Saturday, April 15, 2006

Reviews -- Do they really influence readers?

FictionDB doesn't review books. Why? There are so many sites out there already who do a pretty good job of reviewing new releases. We do, however, provide links to over 60,000 reviews. Which brings me to the point of this post.

A review is just one person's opinion about a book. We all have different tastes, hot buttons, and ideas about what constitutes a great read. I've read reviews for years, but a single review rarely influences my purchase of a book. What does influence me is volume. If 5 reviews say the book is great and one says don't bother, I am more willing to try it.

This past week, I added RT's reviews to the FictionDB database. As I was going through them, I noticed that they had given one of my favorite Regencies 2 stars. This is a book that I have given to many people who have all loved it. The book is Lord St. Claire's Angel by Donna Simpson. RT's reviews are only 2 or 3 lines which is why you won't see them as review buttons . Given their brevity, it is often difficult to determine the reason for the rating. This gets back to using a single review source. Several other sites loved this book as much I did, so looking at a variety of reviews gives a better idea as to the quality of the book. I also tend to look at who is reviewing the book. There are some reviewers who I always disagree with -- we just have different taste in books. I think in the case of Lord St. Claire's Angel, the RT reviewer didn't think the hero's actions were acceptable for the time. I didn't get this impression at all. The setting of the book is a country estate. If we were talking about behavior in the middle of a ball in London during the season, I'd be much more of a stickler. But even if this were one of my hot buttons, I wouldn't downgrade a book this far -- I certainly didn't for the Samantha Saxon books that did hit my hot button. A good story and great characters can overcome almost anything!

So, can a single review really influence buying behavior? Let's hope not!

That's why you'll see links to several review sites on FictionDB. We've now made reviews searchable. Visit our Advanced Search page to search by review site, rating and more.