Wednesday, September 23, 2009

$9.99 boycott & 1 star reviews

Many Kindle owners in community forums have stated the lower priced eBooks as a factor in their decision making when purchasing a Kindle. Indeed, there are frequently many free or very low priced eBooks available in Kindle format. Certainly I've saved myself a small fortune on books over the past few months, even though I read more than ever.

However, popular new releases & NYT bestsellers are often priced at 9.99 or higher - with many priced in the high teens or even over $20. Readers at Amazon Community Boards staged a 9.99 boycott, adding boycott tags to books that they felt were overpriced. And I say by all means, put your money where your mouth is: complain to publishers, to authors, to Amazon. Buy elsewhere if & when you can find cheaper. There's never anything wrong with keeping price setters on their toes!

But is it right to use the Amazon review process to lower the rating of a book because you don't like the price? Even when you haven't read it? Many readers - or consumers of any product - use the star rating to decide whether to even click open a product page - nevermind read through the ratings to see why low ratings where left. If a product has less than 4 stars, I don't even bother to open the page.

So how disappointed was I to find that often a rating of 1 has been left by someone who has never read the book or used the product?? Now, I've no problem whatsoever with a poor rating based on experience. Or if you bought an item and felt that, after using or reading it, it just wasn't worth the money. Go ahead, rate it accordingly. That in itself can be helpful.
But there's nothing useful in a 1 star when you don't know the product - whether it's a TV, car, microwave or a book.

Case in point: Diana Gabaldon's latest release An Echo in the Bone - started out a few days ago at $16.50 on Kindle, now at $13.20 & probably down to $9.99 before the week is out. Of the 10 reviews on there, none have finished the book. 2 are 1 stars from people who haven't read it but want to complain about the price & the 7 are 5 stars simply to balance out the complainers, and wanted to read a review of the book, not the price. One review actually discusses the content. Overall it gets a very skewed & odd 4 star rating.

Personally I don't need those 1 stars to tell me if any item is too expensive or not. I can be the judge of whether or not I can afford something. And if it has glowing reviews based on it's quality, I may be prepared to splurge, to open my squeaky-tight purse a little further and spend a whopping $16.50 on a book I've waited months for. And if the readers tell me it's poorly written, or badly formatted for Kindle, I can make the decision to wait until the price drops.

That's what is useful in a review... I'd go as far to say that now I disregard all 1 star ratings on a book - which is a shame, because many are very valid. I'm now more likely to look at how many 2 stars it has versus 5 stars. And to bring down an author's rating for something you've never read, is not only unhelpful to other consumers, but potentially damaging to sales, damaging to the fan base & lets face it, can hardly be much of a boost in pride to the author!

Personally, I didn't buy the Kindle for cheap books. There are a dozen reasons why I love my Kindle and cheap books is a great bonus. And if I find that a new release is too expensive, I do what I have done for the past few decades of reading - I wait until the price drops. There's a whole bunch of those on my Wish List... and that's fine because in the meantime there are few thousand others out there in my price range to keep me going.

No comments :

Post a Comment