There’s a lovely piece in The Guardian today by Christina Martin about Amazon reviews. Apparently, there has been more controversy about authors writing their own reviews (how could they – the cads!) and whether the reviews are really reliable.
She makes the valuable point that they may or may not be real. It doesn’t really matter. You can fairly easily tell which ones are genuine and which ones are fakes by the way they are written, and whether the person has reviewed similar books. And they open up the debate about books to lots of new voices. After all, before we had to rely on the reviews on the back of book jackets – and they were often fairly fictitious as well.
Most authors have an ambivalent attitude to Amazon and other online reviews. Personally I like them. I’ve had good ones and stinkers, and although none of us like being criticised, I can take that in good spirit. The internet is full of nasty stuff, and there is no reason why authors should be exempt. Online reviews are one of the few ways we have of getting feedback on our work, and of judging how much impact it is making on the world.
The more of them the better – even if they aren’t real.