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Previously on Amazon.com

I’ve seen some 24 tie-in novels at What the Book in Itaewon, and, while I’ve been tempted to try one, I’ve also been wary of potential literary trash. Well, out of curiosity, I just googled ‘operation hell gate 24 review’ and found a link to Amazon.com not the best source of reviews, but I thought I’d try it. The first couple of user review were quite positive and I was starting to think maybe I’d try it. Then I read:

Having been obligated to read “The Grapes of Wrath” in high school, I cannot honestly say that “Operation Hell Gate” is the least-enjoyable book I’ve ever read. It is, however, the worst-written.

Maybe I won’t, then.

  1. 16 January 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Since Amazon accepts reviews from anyone, it has something of a problem with publicists, authors, and friends of authors posting shill reviews of various works. However, there are also a large number of very serious and quite competent people who post reviews there, many of which a better and more objective than some of those published in things like the New York Times (note that this group does not include the supposed #1 reviewer on Amazon, Harriet Klausner). This group frequently discusses the problems Amazon has with shill reviews over on the Customer Review Discussion board, and has probably been helpful in getting Amazon to implement some changes that will hopefully reduce said shill type nonsense.

  2. 17 January 2007 at 4:15 am

    I know. But when you do a search for something, Amazon usually comes up at the top of the page and it’s just easier to click on it. I’ve read a comment to the effect that any book with an Amazon rating of less than five stars isn’t worth buying.

  3. 17 January 2007 at 3:52 pm

    That statement is very definitely not true. While Amazon’s rating system and review process makes for somewhat inflated ratings (the average should be 3 stars, the actual is about 3.8, as most people review things that they like!), there are many books with 4 star ratings (and a few with even lower ratings) that are well worth reading. Controversial books especially seem to attract both the praisers and the detractors, which lowers their star ratings (as an example, see something like Samuel Delany’s Dhalgren, which has reviews at the 1 and 5 star level and everywhere in-between). I’ve found I really can’t go by the ratings, but need to find a perceptive review that tells me enough about the book that I can determine if it’s something I’d like to try. There are a few reviewers there that I look for, as I know that they always deliver this type information. If none of those have weighed in on the item I’m considering, I frequently take a look at the other reviewers other reviews to see what their general output is like (this process usually weeds out any ‘shill’ reviewers).

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