The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What If Everyone Who Read Books Had to Review Them?

Books in the Douglasville, Georgia Borders store.
Books in the Douglasville, Georgia Borders store. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


















       In a recent post at Tossing It Out I asked the question "What If You Wrote a Book That Nobody Wanted?"    Here is the comment left by Christine Rains:
Great post. It's hard to say who will like what. I've hated books that were best sellers, but loved ones that nobody is interested in. I'd love for a lot of readers to like my books too, but I'm in a little niche at the moment.

        In my reply to Christine I speculated:

I'm the same way. Sometimes I think a lot of people who buy the best sellers don't even really read them. People have a tendency to jump on a bandwagon and just do what they think they're supposed to be doing because everyone else is. If everyone was required to give an honest book report/review on the books they purchased, I wonder what the Amazon review section would look like.



     This got me to thinking a bit more about this scenario. Thinking back to our school days most of us probably recall having to write book reports on books we'd read or worst of all for many of us, we were required to stand in front of the class to deliver the dreaded oral book report. I wonder what would happen if everyone who read a book was required to give their personal review on the book.

    Now, to disallow any discussion about the cheaters who might not really read the book or give disingenuous reviews--since some of you like I did sometimes merely skimmed the book or read the CliffsNotes style summaries and managed to get by with a passable book report--let us postulate that everyone was honest about their reading or there was a credible way of being sure that books had been read. Let us also discard any notion that people would stop reading to avoid book reports. In our fantasy scenario everyone would be required to read X number of books per month and present an honest review/report on each one.



         Using our imaginary society of readership model, would we see less 5 star reviews on Amazon?    Would the majority of books that are now published never make it to the market because of a fear of receiving poor reviews?   Would the best-seller lists look different than they do now?   Would this society see the emergence of smarter more discriminating readers?

           

91 comments:

  1. Well I think that it's subjective. Some people will love a book while others hate it. There's really only one way to find out of a book is good or not and that's to read it and see if it piques your own interest. I have no interest in 50 Shades of Grey, and I have friends who both loved and hated it. I've seen disparaging comments about what a bad writer JK Rowling is, yet I can't imagine my life w/o Harry Potter and I can't stop re-reading the series. 15 years now and I'm still re-reading the books over and over.

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    1. Of course it's subjective if it's an honest review coming directly from the person who gave it. I'm talking about using the same standards that are used in school literature classes when the literature and critiquing is taken seriously.

      Lee

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  2. Interesting thought experiment. I think we'd see a sliding of the meanings in (say) a one-to-five star system, with a greater number congregating in the middle ground of 2-4 stars than hitting the extremes, due to less reactionary behaviour. That's just a hunch though, I don't have a reasoned argument for it.

    I don't think fear of bad reviews would put people off publishing, but it might result in books being withdrawn from publication much more frequently.

    I think I'd like that system though. Getting reviews is nice, especially good ones, and it's always satisfying to give a good review - because it's a sign you got a good read!

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    1. I like your use of the term "reactionary behavior". So much of the time this is what the review amounts to--little thought process with visceral reactions prevailing. Honest in depth reviews would eliminate extremes like "Great book!" and "Hated it!"--reviewers would have to explain why they felt this way and would lead to more discriminating reading and evaluation process.

      Lee

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  3. I don't think it would affect it much. Some people don't even read reviews, so bad ones wouldn't deter them.
    Five books a month? I guess I'll just scratch sleeping off my list.

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    1. But a mandatory read/review process would undoubtedly have a huge impact. If we were expected to read and write reviews that were "graded" in a sense, that would assuredly lead to great care in writing reviews and reviews that were more interesting. There might be people reading the reviews and a site opened to review the reviews. A thinking public? What a novel idea!

      Lee

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  4. Yes, the reader may become more discriminating themselves. And thereby think about putting themselves on the line and be prepared to give their honest review. Not sure that an author would be afraid of being published though - interesting thought!

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    1. I think authors would put greater care into the quality of what they produced and more attention would be given to editing.

      Lee

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  5. Sorry, Arlee. Not my fantasy. If I had to review every book I read, my reading list would go wwwwaaaayyy down.

    Life & Faith in Caneyhead

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    1. But if reading and reviewing were mandatory your reading list would on the contrary go way up. Keep in mind that my proposal is essentially a dystopian fantasy of sorts. Probably more realistic than the stories like The Hunger Games. Just look at some of the things our government has proposed and things they've actually put into action. Never say never.

      Lee

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  6. Interesting thought, Lee. I guess if reading and reviewing were mandatory there is a chance it'd go up. But the downside may be, if it's not very good, readers will abandon them mid-book so they don't have to review them.

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    1. But if say each of us had a specific number of books we had to read, would we be more careful about choosing the books we had to read or maybe even would choose from assigned reading lists like in school if we couldn't come up with our own lists. I for one tend to finish a book that I've started whether I like it or not and then review it on the basis of my reaction. That's how I end up with a few low rated books with poorer reviews.

      Lee

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  7. I guess I'd have to stop reading as widely as I do if I was forced to write a review for every book I read. Some books I can't finish. I'd have to review those, too? And how about the ones that were so poorly crafted that I read with my pen in hand, marking as I went so I could refer to them later as "what not to do." I feel the pain already.

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    1. But if the reading was mandatory as it was when most of us were in school you would have to read and review. In the scenario you present we'd be far more careful about finding flaws in writing. It would set up tougher standards for authors.

      Lee

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  8. Not terribly sure what it would do to the ratings. How many people have the courage to write a bad review in the first place? I'm not very good at reviewing a book anyway. I think it would put me off reading altogether if I had to write a review every time.

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    1. I'm amazed at the ridiculous bad reviews of the nature of "I was sent the wrong book" or "I expected this book to be a fiction but it was non-fiction" or some such nonsense. If those types of reviews were eliminated we'd get a more realistic perspective of assessment. Likewise if we no longer had the author friend and family 5 star reviews were based more on the relationship to the author than the merit of the book. In my dystopian reading world you would be required to read books just as we were often required to read them in school.

      Lee

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    2. In fact I choose a book from the blurb and very seldom do I even read the reviews. Those reviews you mentioned I would just ignore as being from very stupid people anyway. Actually I am not sure I ever had to do a review in school. Often had to write a précis, but not a review I don't think.

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    3. The word précis is new to me. I think a book report done properly would be intended to be more like a review but usually they just ended up being summaries of the story.

      Much of the time these days when I buy books (which is rare considering my economy) I do so because I've read a review in the paper or heard the author interviewed somewhere. When I used to buy through the mail order "book clubs" I'd buy according to genre and blurb description. Most of the books I buy now are at places like Dollar Tree where I can get new hardback copies of books for $1.00. I don't get too many of those either, but sometimes they have some good ones by authors I want to read.

      Lee

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    4. Which, of course, is exactly what a précis is.

      Do you not have a good library nearby? We have an excellent one here. If they do not have a book I want, they can usually borrow it from another branch. They also rent out ebooks and DVDs and because of me and one other they have an excellent sci fi/fantasy collection. I frequently put in requests to buy and mostly they follow my suggestions.

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    5. A few blocks from me I have a library that is part of the Los Angeles County Library systems-- a pretty good one I'd say. I can go online and do just about everything and just go to pick things up when they notify me that they received it at my local branch. I haven't used them in a few year which I guess I should get back into the habit of doing. Right now I have so many books here at home those could keep me very busy reading for many years even if I read steadily.

      They just finished the brand new library building last year so I probably should visit them and see what the new facility is like (actually the old one they tore down was pretty nice).

      Lee

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  9. If everyone was required to read, we would see smarter people in general. I think reviews would change. Lots of people like me don't write reviews if the book deserves a one or two star. I just don't do that but lots of people would. I think we'd see lower scores in general.

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    1. What a horror! A population of smarter people! I don't know about the lower scores, but maybe more discriminating scores from smarter people who were reading smarter books. Maybe not such a bad thing!

      Lee

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    2. I'm with you, Susan, on not reviewing things I'd give one or two stars to. Maybe I'd just stop reading them instead, though.

      Interesting idea, Lee!

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    3. However if the low reviews are accompanied by logical intelligent qualifiers as evidence then that can be helpful in many ways. More than once I was expected to read a book I hated--usually that's when I resorted to the CliffsNotes--but maybe I would have been better off to have actually read them. When I first started reading Pride and Prejudice I found it to be a tedious bore, but I persisted in finished it and in the end I was rewarded such that I ended up loving the book.

      Lee

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  10. Reviewing a book is *work*, not necessarily pleasure, for me and I read them more critically.

    I rarely read a book that everyone is raving about--much of that is PR publicity generated. The book has to interest me as a reader. If the storyline doesn't grab me, I don't read it regardless of WHO wrote it or who says it's great.

    Actually, I'd love a system that would allow you to rate it by stars only and not HAVE TO write a review.

    I've read a few books that honestly generate a 5 star review but most books are in the 3-4 star range. Still good books but not 5 star. Some of the 5 stars are deceptive. They're written to generate buying and are written by people who are friends of the author or of PR people. Sad but true. If you're reading a book just based on the star rating, then don't just look at the 5 stars, read the 2 and 3 stars as well. It give you a better view of the overall product, imo.

    I hate to have to give a review on every book I've read. I like just buying and enjoying or going ewww and tossing, lol!

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

    If honest reviews were required...I don't think it would affect the publishers or authors from putting up the book for sale. Actually, I would love a system where you could give out the stars without having to write the review.

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    1. But the problem with a stars only system as you indicate would be the unqualified assessments. It's nice to know the reasoning behind the ratings and not that it's just an arbitrary dishing out of stars.

      Lee

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  11. I used to dwell on these things and worry about my own book sales and reviews. Then, I learned that Herman Melville sold only 300 copies of Moby Dick in his lifetime. Be sure to save this post so that someday you can tell people you actually blogged with me!

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    1. I probably won't be alive by that time. And neither will you!

      Lee

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  12. Lee: I'm sorry... I can't help but see this from a different angle... and it's scary.

    Are we talking only "purchased" books, or do we include library check outs, gifts, and ones we borrow from a friend? (smile) If reviews are mandatory, then sooner or later, "the required form to submit your review" will accompany each book. (You might receive this form at the time of purchase, or visit Amazon, like now.) Either way there will be a method of keeping record on who buys what and when. Maybe we'll be given a date we must return said review into authorities. Would there be a late fee? No show fee? Given these possible factors, you'd definitely want to be more discriminating in what you read. Say there's a $250 fine for not reviewing Dr. Suess on time? How many parents want to go there? We might actually stop reading all together. Or, as you've stated: "Would this society see the emergence of smarter more discriminating readers?" Maybe so.

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    1. There you go! I like this line of thinking. When the government (or big business) gets involved who knows what scary things can happen. A totalitarian reading system could be plausible considering some of the other things people have come up with.

      Lee

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  13. I read a lot of free books from Bookhub through the kindle app. At the end of the book it gives you the option to rate it 1 to 5 with stars on amazon. I will rate it star wise if I do not write a review. I am no generous with my ratings even though a lot of the time the book will come with a good review of over 100 or more 5 stars on amazon. I think it would be interesting to be required to review books, just wonder who would monitor compliance.

    Betty

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    1. With the government they can usually find a way to force compliance--especially in some bizarre dystopian reading world.

      Lee

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  14. When I read a book that is awful and I wonder why or how this book was published by a publishing house, I take notes throughout the reading. I usually find my answer in my notes.
    If I read a book that I consider outstanding, I highlight those parts that amaze me.

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    1. You're much more observant than I.

      Lee

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  15. I have never had to write a review of a book-since book reports in grade school, that is.

    I would have a hard time in that role, since if a book does not grab me, I put it down and move on.

    In my teens and twenties, I loved science fiction and fantasy, and somewhere in my late twenties, I purchased a newly released "Shannara" novel, struggled to read the first couple of chapters, and gave up.

    In that scenario, I would not be able to (in good faith) attempt a review, nor would I try to soldier on to be able to write one-what chance would Mr. Brooks (the author) have?

    Even though my primary blog site was set up for the purpose of reviewing music, the handful of times I was given a review copy of a CD I did not lie, I simply did not review it.

    I loathe to say something bad about someone's art-as many voices above have said, it is so subjective.

    Those who can, do...those who can't....review.

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    1. Yes, but do you read reviews if you are considering buying an album or book. Or have you read a review that made you curious enough to seek out what was reviewed. I think good well written and well argued reviews can be very useful in helping me discover works that I might have previously overlooked.

      Lee

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    2. Are you reacting to the last line? A joke!

      Funny-I read reviews on music, and sometimes buy based on them, but not so much with books. No idea why.

      I often judge them by their cover (or the blurbs on the back cover)-only partly a joke.

      The automated Amazon recommendations steer me to a lot of music and books, but for books I probably discover more through a couple of blog sites (McCarthy's was one). I do not read as much fiction these days, and what I do read is by a handful of authors I am familiar with.

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    3. I realize that last line was a joke, but there is a serious side to it as there is in many jokes. I've heard that in relation to teaching I think it was.

      I don't read all that much fiction of late and whatever I do is either what I have on hand or what bloggers have sent me. I don't look at much else since I don't buy much anymore.

      Covers and blurbs are partially intended to sell books so it make sense that we would judge them. I remember buying record albums on the same basis sometimes. I've bought many an album based on some of the side musicians who played on them and more than once have been disappointed while many times I was pleasantly surprised.

      I seek out books, movies, and music for many reasons such as the ones you mention and often on the basis of a review that I've read.

      Lee

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  16. Depends on what is required in the review. If there is a specific amount of info that has to be touched on, then perhaps there would be less 5 stars. But if a reviewer only had to summarize if they liked the book, well then there are lots of ways to say something like "I enjoyed the book, it kept me entertained for X amount of time, I give it five stars and think others will like it too." Very generic, and still hurts nobody's feelings.

    However, forcing everyone to write a review would make the review process useless. Kinda like all the customer service surveys consumers are required to fill out for EVERY purchase online or for service calls such as PG&E and cable. I give everyone 10 to get it over with and not get anyone fired; unless someone seriously was rude (really really really rude) and I give all 0.

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    1. An honest written review becomes more subjective than an anonymous survey that someone just checks off boxes in. I enjoy getting differing perspective on what people really thought about something, but often we don't get the truth.

      Lee

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  17. Unfortunately, I don't think reviews matter that much. I think people buy what interests them and some buy what's hot. The best sellers are usually written by people really, really, really good at marketing.

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    1. That is the way it is now, but if greater discrimination in taste were required with honesty as a standard then we might see things in a very different light. Honest reviews might eradicate marketing deception, but that's in the totalitarian dystopian reader scenario.

      Lee

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  18. Because I don't really have time to respond at the moment, I'll make it very short.
    I think if more people read more books, the very popular books would stop getting so many good ratings. People who read who don't read much (most people) may think bad books are good just because they have nothing to compare them to. When you read a lot, and you actually read -good- books, the merely popular books stand out because of their deviation. When the Twilight series is the only thing you've read in the last decade, of course you think it's good.

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    1. You're correct. Discriminate reading comes from more reading experience. Of course though if your reading consists of hundreds of the same kinds of books then you might only discriminate on variants of quality as opposed to quality content. The good thing about school reading is that there is usually some guidance given as to what is generally accepted by the academic community to be good reading Sales charts don't always reflect the same thing.

      Lee

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  19. When I read your comment at the beginning all that came to mind is that book "50 Shades of Grey" . I think this must be a perfect example of a badly written book that became a big bestseller because of all the sex etc... It is a Harlequin book with sex. I picked it up at the book store and read certain passages and then put it right back. I wouldn't waste my time on that. I think people would still find a way to cheat and not read and I still believe people would still try to write their report in the way they think people would want to hear. Very few will want to be honest. I would hope that people will read a book and make their own judgement because one book may not be liked by one person but another will love it. It depends on the genre, writing style etc...

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    1. A standard would have to be adopted in this fanciful scenario, maybe combined with a test of some sort to be sure the book was actually read

      I wonder if the popularity of books like 50 Shades of Grey is more due to the readership being more susceptible to hype that promises lurid reading or the dumbing down of readers looking for easier to read book with not intellectual investment. Or perhaps a bit of both?

      Lee

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  20. I really liked Dixie's comment... the idea of being forced to write a review for Amazon (or any other source)... I think it would discourage reading altogether. Particularly if there were a fine involved.

    As for reviews... I tend to not review books. Sometimes I will make a point of doing it if I really like a book OR I really don't like a book (so long as it isn't a friend). If I read a blog friend's book and don't like it, I simply will not review it. Period. I'm not in this blogging thing to hurt feelings. Plus, I don't want to hinder someone. They may become an excellent writer some day and they've written some less than stellar stuff along their journey. But that doesn't mean they should quit (due to overwhelming bad reviews). I read some of my early stuff and cringe. If I'd not known any better and published it (received a ton of negative reviews)... well, I might've just quit. That would be a shame since I think my writing is improving. Slowly improving. But improving.

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  21. I don't want to hurt feelings either, but the reviews should be intended not to massage the egos of authors but to help guide potential buyers of books. When I read a review it will either encourage to read or not read a book or not care one way or another. I've read many books that I might not have found if it had not been for reviews and from that standpoint I think reviews are important. Especially now with the greater scarcity of brick and mortar book stores I don't have an opportunity to leisurely peruse books that are on the market.

    If an author is hindered by bad reviews then they need to reevaluate what they are doing by trying to be an author. A bad review that is not an attack on an author or something with nothing to back it up should be a learning experience to help the author grow. Authors also need to be aware of the source of the review. Many reviews are very poorly done and often the more stars the dumber the review and that makes me suspect about the motivations of the reviewer.

    If a writer has enough drive and belief in what they want to achieve, the bad reviews should not hold them back. If negative criticism hinders them then maybe they need to look at all aspects of their personality and how they react to other aspects of critical advice in their lives and address those issues. Being in the public eyes requires a bit of thick skin and a willingness to listen, learn, and ignore when necessary.

    Lee

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  22. I'm thinking this way- for the reader, it's about enjoyment. If they get enjoyment out of a brief perusal, they only cheat themselves. Some of them might be buying best sellers just to tell their club, "Yes, I do have it. Wasn't the end exciting?" while crossing their fingers no one wants an analysis.

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    1. I wonder what a lot of readers really get out of books. I've read so many books (or watched so many movies) that I quickly forget and I wonder if was just a matter of cheap thrills with no lasting impact. Then there are the books and movies that make me think and stick with me. Those are the amazing experiences that I want to have. Shallow reading vs deep reading can be a problem, but, hey, if I'm an author and I'm selling tons of books, do I care that much?

      Lee

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  23. The pessimist in me thinks such a requirement would definitely cut in to sales...

    But the optimist thinks it would be a happier world if more people had thoughtful discussions about all of the media we all absorb: art, film, literature, TV, music, theater, architecture, etc.

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    1. Wow, what a cool world that sounds like. Art would seem to have more meaning and in turn might increase in quality.

      Lee

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  24. I sort of review them before I read them. First thing is to open the book up and if I like the style of writing and how the words flow I'll look into it a bit more serious. There are many I buy based off past experiences and once in a while I a letdown.

    The massive amount of info generated by this dystopian society's book reviews would most likely thwart any plausible results. Unless it was computed into a numeric value and each book was then assigned a series of numbers.

    Then we would never judge a book by its cover but only by its number.

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    1. I'm sure the data geeks could come up with some measurable to give readers something to go by in choosing their reads. I tend to read more books by an author whose work I have enjoyed. And if I'm in a store looking for a book I'll typically read the fist page and then glance through the book to see how it looks. That combined with the blurb tells me mostly what I want to know.

      Lee

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  25. I'm not sure if that would bring a wider variety of reviews. What if it made people read less because they didn't want to bother with a review?????? o.o

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    1. But what if the reading and the reviewing were made compulsory by the government. Other things are government compulsory. What if it were like jury duty or filing taxes? It's the dystopian government of intelligentsia.

      Lee

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  26. I never read books.
    I just wait for the movie.

    Besides that, I'm not very opinionated, so any book review I'd write would probably just be a boring synopsis of the story.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. I figured as such. I'll bet your book reports in school were a hoot.

      Lee

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  27. This is hard for me to say because I'm a not a big reader. Every since motherhood, I find it extremely difficult to read anything longer than a magazine article. My mind gets too distracted. I always think when I read someone's book review, then they are giving their honest opinion of it. Are you saying that perhaps they aren't? GASP! Of course, you might be on to something with all these New York Best Sellers lists, etc because I NEVER listen to critics regarding movies. The ones everyone raves about are most of the time not good in my opinion. Of course the key word is "opinion". What is good in one person's opinion isn't always good to another. Good post!

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    1. Generally I trust the opinions of the public reviewers more than the professionals, but I don't think the public does so hot either. But hearing other opinions can be fun, especially when they're incredibly stupid.

      Lee

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  28. I will have to admit to utilizing a couple Cliffnotes in my day...but book reports (that's what old time reviews were called) were not my forte. :)

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    1. I think I usually managed to get A's on all of my book reports, but I bluffed my way through them and I think mine overall were probably better than most. I don't know that many of the other kids were actually reading the books.

      Lee

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  29. It would help people expand their analytical thinking and articulation (one would hope).

    Many books would end up with a more middle-of-the-road score but wouldn't change the bestsellers. Lesser-known books would be given more coverage, though, which could really assist struggling authors.

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    1. I would also hope that thinking and articulation would expand, but it could result in governmental or some other manipulation in steering people toward what they should read. We could only hope that the lesser known books would get a better chance in the marketplace.

      Lee

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  30. Interesting thought. I know I don't review the books I read mostly because I don't like having to put feelings into words. I'm the one who always skips the comment box on everything--especially the dreaded professor review at the end of the semester.

    How would books then rate? You'd probably get more of a bell curve for each. There would be outlier scores--every book would get a smattering of 5s and 1s. But I don't think every book would rate a 3. There are some books that are better than others, and those would get higher ratings, although there would still be a distribution curve on it.

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    1. It would be interesting to see how some of the heavily marketed books that hit bestsellers lists in recent decades would fare under such a system. You are probably correct that we see more middle of the road reviews if greater honesty in reviewing became the standard policy.

      Lee

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  31. If book reviews were required - I think a lot of readers would be discouraged and never even pick up the book. Many readers read to escape and writing a review might not feel like escaping to them. As a writer, however, I wish everyone would write a review. :)

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    1. Would they go to jail or pay a fine in lieu of writing the book review? If they got used to reviewing the books pretty soon they'd just accept it. I'd like to know honest opinions in the reviews.

      Lee

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  32. I think there would be less five-stars out there if everyone was brutally honest, especially in the Indie world. I have read books that everyone raved about but just couldn't get into them. Did I trash the writer on Amazon - no. I figured it could just be me, that the story isn't my cuppa tea.

    I do recall one book from a favorite (famous) writer of mine that got ripped apart on Amazon. The writer re-released an old work and slapped a new cover on it and called it new without disclosing it was a re-release. There was so much up roar on Amazon, that they added a paragraph explaining it was re-released.

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    1. Sounds like a possible marketing deception. If that were the case I could understand some outrage.

      Lee

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  33. I would absolutely hate it. For the same reason I don't do a lot of reviews. It bothers the life out of me to say something hurtful to someone and we all know that bad reviews - no matter how much we try not to let them - hurt. I did read your earlier comment on "hurting feelings" and part of me knows you're right but...I am who I am.

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    1. An honest review doesn't have to be hurtful if it tries to be constructive and weigh good and the bad. I don't think I've read anything that was all bad. Just the act of a work having been thoughtfully created is one positive in my thinking.

      Lee

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  34. Well-written 1-, 2-, and 3-star reviews mean more to me than a bunch of mindless 4- and 5-star reviews just regurgitating the same old platitudes over and over again. I'm far from the only Amazon reviewer who's gotten a bunch of "not helpful" votes just because I gave a negative, honest review to a popular book or sacred cow. Why should we have to pretend we liked something just because it's a bestseller or it's been drummed into our heads that it's a classic?

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    1. Yes! I agree so much with what you've said. And why an honest review would be tagged as "Not helpful" is just downright strange.

      Lee

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  35. I don't even read reviews before I buy a book. I like to form my own opinion. Sure, I may download a book like The Girl on the Train because it's getting lots of buzz, but if I don't like it, I just assume it's not my thing. I attended a workshop last fall where an agent strongly spoke against authors leaving bad reviews for other authors. She said it could be a HUGE career mistake. That's what I always suspected...but once I landed my book deal, I figured it was now my responsibility to keep my big mouth shut when it comes to what I think of other books. In other words, "If I have nothing nice to say, I say nothing at all!"

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    1. I think a "bad review" depends a lot on intent and the quality of helpfulness in the review. I don't think it's a good idea to go out of one's way to give negative reviews, but if an author is writing a professional review for a publication then it should be honest and kept to a scholarly standard.

      I like to read reviews when I'm trying to decide about buying a book that I'm not sure of, but the review may or may not influence my buying decision. It really depends on the book as well as the general tenor of how readers have reacted. I avoid the dumb reviews of adulation or attack.

      Lee

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  36. What I love about this concept is that writing a review would slow us down just a bit. Instead of slamming one book shut, and opening another, we would take just that bit of space to reflect on what we read.

    I have begun to write reviews on Goodreads of books I read, but I rarely summarize the story, as most reviews do. When I read what others have said about a book or a movie, I want to know the why, more than the what.

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    1. Exactly and I think that reflection is the important part of the reviewing process.

      Your method of reviewing is also one that I follow. Why give the summary when that is already available with the blurb and all. The review should tell us what a reader thought about the book and whether or not they would recommend it to others with a reason for their opinion.

      Lee

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  37. You make a good point that not every book which is bought gets read. I have way to many to count that I've bought or been given remaining in my reading pile. For me, writing honest reviews is the only way to go. It not only helps potential buyers, but also the writers themselves. I've had more than a few authors send me a note of thanks, and even a second book to review, because they want to know if I like this one better, and they took me at my word, knowing I wasn't trying to bash them or their work, but rather, I was simply sharing an honest opinion with pros and cons about the book in my review.

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    1. You're right. Reviewing should not be about bashing or even thought of as such as long as the review is fair and honest. The review is mainly for other readers to help them decide if a book will be worth their investment of time. I find it easy to separate the quality reviews from the meaningless dreck. I don't want to waste time if a book seems clearly to be mindless and a good review should be able to convey what I'm looking for. The problem often is a matter of finding truly intelligent reviews. Those are the kind I try my best to do.

      Like you I have so many books still to be read and I plan on reading all of them eventually. I hope at least.

      Lee

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  38. While I would love loads of readers and reviews, I don't think making a review a requirement to read is a good idea. I think it would discourage many people from reading and defeat the purpose all together.

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    1. The Hunger Games weren't all that great of an idea either but the government did it anyway--well in the story at least. I want to read the book about the mandatory book reports.

      Lee

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  39. Those are excellent questions Lee, to your insightful post.

    I can tell you I would not write what I didn't truly feel about a book. What would be the point.

    I have heard of reviews being written just to bring the value, or sale-ability of a book down. That's such bad karma.

    After reading Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, I made no bones about how disappointed I was with the ending. I was shocked at how my frankness about it was not well received by some friends that just "gushed" all over the place about what a great book it was.

    I stuck to my guns. Then, this past Oct, when I attended the SIWC, the book came up on one of the classes. I did not hesitate to state my disappointment. Funnily enough, though much of the class was giving it glowing reviews, the fellow giving the talk, stopped, and reflected on what I had said, which was…

    "the story was strong until the halfway mark, then, the author got lazy, and the ending was an utter sham - no effort was spared. Had the book continued with the same strength the first half had I would have really enjoyed it"

    His reply was that he agreed. He had liked the overall story, but when he looked back at the ending he had to agree. It was at this point a timid lady in the back spoke up… "thank goodness, I disliked the ending too".

    People should stick to writing from the truth and not get all caught up in what other reviews have said, or even friends.

    It's like writing comments - I write mine first than go back and take a read of some of the others to see what is being said.

    Again, great post, very thought provoking.

    Cheers, Jenny
    2015 A to Z Challenge Ambassador
    @PearsonReport

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    1. AMEN, Jenny!! We just watched the movie last night and I called *every* twist in the thing! I was so frustrated. I'd expected something really great and instead... Not so much. I was hoping maybe the book might be better but after reading your comment I won't even give it a try.

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    2. I haven't read the book or seen the movie though I imagine I might eventually do the latter since it was hyped so much and it's less of an investment than reading an entire book.

      I do think a lot of times people are talked into thinking something is good or great because "everyone else" thinks so. That's one reason why there are certain things I never read or see. The excitement of discovery is a magical part of reading or seeing a movie. If I go into it with little in the way of preconceived notions then I can judge the work based on my own criteria.

      Lee

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  40. There would be far fewer five-star reviews if everyone had to review the books they read. But people review books that move them. I'm reminded of the suggested law from a satirist I heard about a few years ago: Those who choose to eat meat should be forced to slaughter one animal a year to qualify for a meat-eater's licence. If you had to review every book you read, I feel by the same token that there would be fewer readers.

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    1. Hadn't heard the meat eaters thing before. Yeah, we'd probably see an increase in vegetarians.

      Seems like serious readers would revel in reviewing. Why read a book if you don't want to tell others about it?

      Lee

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  41. Interesting to think about. I think we tend to review when we either love or really dislike a book, but seldom in between. I enjoy Goodreads because it feels more like a community as opposed to someone making sales pitch (although I know that probably goes on there too). You don't buy through Goodreads though, so it's a little different.

    Also, we've had such a busy few months with my daughter's wedding, but I always enjoy reading your other blog too. Lots to mull over when I leave there. Looking forward to the A-Z...thanks again for making it happen.

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  42. What a wonderful question, wonderful thought. What if...the world would change.

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    1. And maybe even better: What if everyone read books? I think there are a lot of people who rarely read much of anything.

      Lee

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  43. I always try to be honest in my reviews - but if I don't have much nice to say, I really try to tone it down and not go all out bashing the book. I don't want to be trying to destroy anyone's spirit, so I'm more of the "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say much at all" camp.

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Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
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Lee