Monday, December 05, 2011

Blindside by Ed Gorman; The Ugly Truth About Consumer Book Reviews

Ed Gorman. Severn, $28.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8025-3
Shamus Award–winner Gorman’s absorbing third mystery featuring Dev Conrad (after 2010’s Stranglehold) finds the Illinois political consultant stepping into a congressional match between liberal incumbent Jeff Ward and Ward’s blustery right-wing opponent, Rusty Burkhart. As a favor to Ward’s father, Conrad agrees to spend a couple of days with Ward’s campaign to try to discover a spy within the organization. Conrad doesn’t like either of the candidates—Burkhart because of his stances and Ward because of his arrogance and tomcatting. When the shooting death of one of Ward’s senior advisers threatens to derail the campaign, Conrad discovers that both candidates have secrets that might end their careers. After analyzing the good and the bad—mostly the bad—in current political campaigns, cynical, sharp-witted Conrad concludes, “We still had a country that we could be rightly proud of.” Readers should take that message to heart as the 2012 election cycle heats up. Agent: Dominick Abel. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/05/2011

The Ugly Truth About Consumer Book Reviews: Part One
Posted: 12/ 5/11 10:36 AM ET

For IndieReader, by Terri Giuliano Long:

Love it or hate it, this is an exciting time in the publishing world. Technological advances have made the long, arduous process of publishing a book cheap, easy and fast--giving voice to millions of new authors and providing readers with a richer, more interesting selection of books.

That's the good news. The challenge is, with so many new choices, how do readers determine which titles to pick?

With indie books, it can be especially hard. Only a handful of indie authors have been around long enough to have an identifiable "brand" (think James Patterson or Nora Roberts). To buy a book by an unfamiliar author, even if it costs only 99¢, readers must take a chance. This perception of risk is amplified by the stigma still associated with self-publishing. Complicating matters, traditional media rarely (if ever), review indie books, forcing readers to rely on consumer reviews--putting disproportionate authority into the hands of consumer reviewers.

Why is this bad? While the majority of consumer reviews are genuine and well-intended, anyone who has visited a review site like Trip Advisor or Yelp knows that they can also be unreliable and-- sometimes--downright dishonest. Some reviewers will lower a restaurant's rating because their server happened to be in a bad mood. Others fake their own glowing reviews or post reviews intended to damage a competitor's reputation. One popular up-and-coming restaurant received caustic reviews on Yelp--posted, it turned out, by a restaurant owner down the street, infuriated because he thought the new guy was "stealing" his business.

With the industry in tumult, publishing has become a free-for-all, akin to the Wild West. Eventually, a new hierarchy will emerge and rules will be set in place. In the meantime, the rules are ambiguous and loosely enforced. In a highly competitive environment, uncertainty and lax regulation offer people plenty of incentive to game the system

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Troy D. Smith said...

I never tire of whining about those several amazon reviewers who gave my 99 cent short stories (which were clearly described as such) one-star reviews and nasty diatribes -because they weren't full-length novels. This is not just disturbing because of the incivility or the short attention span involved in not realizing what you just bought, or even for the potential impact on sales, but for the broader picture: the public is being guided toward believing you should get a full-length novel for under a dollar or you've been cheated.

I said I wasn't tired of whining about it, I never said all of my friends aren't tired of listening to me do so. Carry on.

RJR said...

Good luck with Severn, Ed. I'm doing my third book with them. I like 'em.