Reviews - Losing their Value?

They're sort of a staple in both the book world and the movie world. But honestly they seem to be losing their value - at least to me.

Let's take movies, for example. I've seen a handful of reviews in the paper by critics who admit somewhere in the review that the movie they're reviewing isn't their sort of movie. Puzzles me why they'd bother, but whatever. The thing is they seem to have a problem with remaining objective, which to me makes the whole review completely useless. Just because you don't like the genre, doesn't mean the movie itself sucks. Not all reviews mind you, but you can tell who's ragging on a movie because they think it's stupid as compared to someone who's saying a bad movie really is that bad. Then there's the review comments on movie trailers. Every single movie since June has been dubbed the summer's hottest movie. Seriously, I highly doubt that. Especially with a movie like The Last Airbender which is getting a lot of bad reviews (which is a shame - it sounded promising when it was first announced).

Then there's the book world - most specifically I'm talking about Amazon reviews. In theory they're a good idea; people sharing what they thought of a book can often be a determining factor for some readers as to whether they'd give that book a chance. The problem is they've become so subject to abuse now. Look at how many people will post a review that essentially says nothing more than it sucked. Or how many people will get family and friends to post favourable reviews just to make their book sound good. Or how many writers are resorting to sockpuppet accounts to either provide favourable reviews to their own books, or rip on their competition. Sure you do get some reviews that are detailed, but their value seems to be overshadowed. Reviews aren't high on my will-I-buy-this-book checklist, but I have to admit I give a book that has lots of trade reviews more weight than one with a bunch of Amazon reviews. I've heard quite a few tales of self- and vanity-pubbed authors especially who spent a lot of time on Amazon trying to build up reviews and hype and it's not worked out for them. Unrealistic expectations or putting too much merit on an any-review-is-a-good-review? Probably a bit of both, I suppose.

From what I've gleaned researching, Amazon reviews don't hurt sales but they don't necessarily improve them either. I guess the smartest way to go about them is if you get nice reviews on Amazon, fantastic. Be happy. But is it worth wasting valuable writing time trying to aquire reviews from members? Eh, probably not.

4 comments:

Falen said...

i pretty much don't read any reviews any more. it just takes the fun out of the anticipation

Stephanie said...

Honestly, I usually read Goodreads reviews after I read a book...so I can see who agreed with me and who didn't. Books, movies, even restaurants..it's all so subjective. I would rather form my own opinion. Because there have been many many times I've seen something or ate somewhere with the great review from a close friend..someone who's opinion I valued..and I hated it. And vice versa...we've loved things other people have hated.

BUT...I do sometimes find new books I might not have found otherwise by reviews.

M.R.J. Le Blanc said...

@Falen - I usually don't either, but if I do I can at least appreciate someone who took the time to say 'this is what I liked/didn't like' without some kind of ulterior motive.

@Stephanie - I've never checked out Goodreads, but it sounds like you find it valuable so I think I'll check it out :) Reviews really are subjective, you're right. I've loved stuff most people hated, and hate stuff most people love sometimes.

Aelwyn said...

Amazon reviews are always hit and miss--and I TOTALLY agree with the movie reviews.

Book Of Eli was supposed to be this awesome action movie...and it was not (unless you're of Christian persuasion, it will likely not interest you at all). I'm glad I didn't see it in theaters and waste that money.

 

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