Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Significance of Amazon Book Reviews


Authors Gwen Perkins and Anne R. Allen recently wrote about book reviews on Amazon. One of the most important points they make is that a lot of Amazon's customers don't realize the significance of reviews. It's a fact that reviews on Amazon aren't just there for the shopping experience. Even if you never read reviews, they affect what you see when you shop on Amazon.

Amazon uses a series of algorithms to determine which books will be suggested to customers. A minimum number of reviews is required before a book is added to the "You Might Like" or "Also Bought" lists. What that means for unknown authors is that, without reviews, it's a struggle to get the word out about their books. That's when reviews become critical.

Perkins points out that reviews don't need to be lengthy and Allen states that a minimum of 20 words will qualify as a review. She also says that the Amazon star system is unique in that anything less than four or five stars does nothing to get a book onto the "Also Bought" lists; it's used differently than a star system that would be used to rate restaurants or films.

So please consider visiting Amazon to spend a minute or two sharing your thoughts about a book you've read. The author will certainly be grateful and potential readers will appreciate it too. It's quick, it's painless, you don't even have to use your real name, and it will allow newer authors to meet Stephen King and Suzanne Collins on a somewhat level playing field. Game on.


April 21, 2012

I'd like to acknowledge the reader who commented here and all of the KindleBoards users who assert the claim that book reviews have nothing at all to do with Amazon's algorithms. What remains after all the discussion is over is the fact that no one, aside from those who dwell deep inside the nerve center of Amazon, knows exactly how those algorithms are actually used. We can only venture a guess based on anecdotal evidence and that, of course, leads to a variety of personal opinions.

The good news is that all of those personal opinions led to this blog receiving literally ten times the normal Internet traffic last weekend and that tells me that I should be writing about controversial topics a lot more often. So you can look forward to several future posts on politics, religion, intimate relationships, and whether toilet tissue should hang over or under the roll.

That won't actually happen, but what I will do is continue to follow the lead of Gwen Perkins and Anne R. Allen, the authors whose blog posts I drew my information from to begin with. They're writing and blogging and continuing to discuss the issues that matter to writers and Amazon customers. It's a wild new frontier out there and somebody's got to populate it with books.

And finally, many thanks to those of you who are writing book reviews. They really do matter.


  1. Great post, Todd. Best of luck to you with your books.

  2. Thanks, Hollister Ann Grant. (I love your name, by the way.)

    1. Thanks, my crazy lawyer dad named me after a hall where he went to law school. It could have been worse!

  3. Customers Who liked Cujo may also like Blue Hill!

  4. Stew, that actually made me laugh out loud.

    I'd be honored if Amazon would say, "Customers who liked 'The Body' (Different Seasons), may also like Blue Hill."

  5. Todd, I don't know where you got your information but you are incorrect about a few things. The "Also Bought" list has nothing to do with how many reviews you have, it is based on how many times a customer purchased one of your books as well as the other books. I have several books that have under 10 reviews and are on a number of "Also Bought" and "You Might Like" lists.

    Reviews can be helpful in encouraging helping people to decide whether they want to buy a particular book but they have nothing to do with ranking or with those lists.

    1. Kathleen, thank you for commenting. My information came from the two sources that I mentioned and linked within the post.