Do you trust reader reviews?

Most sites that sell a wide range of products gives customers the ability to write reviews of products  to help others make a decisions on what to buy.

But can those reviews be trusted?

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to a New York Times article about people who are hired to write positive reviews for books. Kind of makes you wonder if you’ve ever purchased a book based on a review written not by an average consumer, but by a professionally paid reviewer.

In the Times article, a data expert even “estimates that about one-third of all consumer reviews on the Internet are fake. Yet it is all but impossible to tell when reviews were written by the marketers or retailers (or by the authors themselves under pseudonyms), by customers (who might get a deal from a merchant for giving a good score) or by a hired third-party service.”

I don’t always trust reviews by average readers because everyone has different tastes and something one person likes another could hate. And I used to think I could weed out reviews that weren’t by the average reader. But this article makes me think maybe not.

Even the Huffington Post had a story this week about a famous author, RJ Ellory, who was caught faking reviews on Amazon for his own books, and writing negative reviews about competitors books, too. That’s a scumbag move if there ever was one.

I think I’ll leave it to plot summaries and friends’ reviews from now on when looking for new, good reads. I can usually rely on NPR and Book Riot, too, for good reviews.

Where do you go when looking for your next read?


4 thoughts on “Do you trust reader reviews?”

  1. I’ve come to trust a handful of blogs for good reviews. I read amazon reviews, but I weigh them according to whether the reviewer has written other reviews and whether the reviewer purchased the book from amazon. I’m suspicious of reviews from people who received freebies from publishing houses unless I’ve grown to trust that person’s reviews. I would like to see Amazon allow ratings only from people who purchased the books (others should be allowed to write reviews but not give a number of stars).

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