How much do reviews (good and bad) affect your choice of reading? If you see a bad review of a book you wanted to read, do you still read it? If you see a good review of a book you’re sure you won’t like, do you change your mind and give the book a try?
Great question! I’ve only been blogging a year, so I primarily rely on reviews at Amazon.com — and All About Romance for, well, romance. On Amazon, I look at both the highest star and lowest star ratings the book received. If the reviews are articulate and well thought out, particularly the negative ones, I weight the reasons why the book “wowed” the reader/disappointed the reader against my own expectations and pet peeves. A “This book sucked, don’t waste your money” review doesn’t tell me anything; and neither does “Great read!! Highly recommended.” Generally, if it’s a book I’m interested in has more 5, 4, and 3 star reviews than 2 and 1, there’s a good chance I will add it to my list.
In the last year, I’ve discovered book review-centric blogs and started blogging my own. So far, these have had less of an impact on my decision to read a particular book. The majority of the time, books reviewed/recommended on individual blogs fall into one of the following categories: books I’ve already read; books I’ve already decided to read based on other sources — even factoring in the lower ratings; or books that I’m not interested in to begin with — and all the positive reviews in the world could not induce me to read it. That doesn’t mean I haven’t found books on personal blogs. I have picked up books based solely on a recommendations from blogger reviews without looking beyond that. The best example of this was last year’s eHarlequin.com’s 10,000 Book Challenge. The challenge required at least half of the books be from their imprints. Since I was relatively new to the publisher, I relied on those who have similar tastes for recommendations.
It’s not a perfect system, but I’ve had more success than not, so I will continue to use it.