Call me naive, but I never considered book reviewers as being part of a business. To me critics/reviewers were performing a kind of public service and many still are, but there’s a seamy side to all of this. Did you know that you can buy book reviews? For a fee ranging from $99-499 these companies businesses to organise written reviews for an author’s title. This service is mainly aimed at the self-published authors, however, anyone that pays can buy reviews, authors and/or publishers. If an author and/or publisher is prepared to pay for sufficient number of good reviews it’s clear it’s possible to convert a crap book into a cracker. In other words through online opinion manipulation more commonly known as corruption.
Sadly though this is not the only area of corruption in the book business. Online customer reviews at the major stores which permit such things are clearly being manipulated. Obscure books with hundreds of reviews, A-list authors with very few reviews and original proper 1 or 2-star negative reviews swamped by 5-star reviews. In some cases all reviews under 4-star removed altogether. One has to ask what’s going on, but one major advantage the established monopolies have is that they answer to no one. Legally organised crime syndicates where the shareholders are God and the customer cannon fodder.
There’s not much else to say except that now I understand how the book review is being used to manipulate peoples buying decisions and the market as a whole by simply mass purchasing bogus review I am seriously less likely to bother reading any again except from old school trusted sources such as newspapers and established magazines. Bloggers and online book review sites will have to prove total impartiality before I will believe them again. In my humble opinion only of course.