I came across this article in the NY Times that, in short, says that online reviews really tell us nothing. Actually, less than nothing as independent research on the quality and reliability of products often contradicts the reviews.
Especially on places like Amazon.But not limited to it. It stretches across all reviews, from Yelp to Good Reads.
The article found certain recently released books were rated significantly higher than classics like Pride and Prejudice that have withstood the test of time. Some authors were a bit embarrassed or worried about their next work being as well received.
The researchers surmised about the biases in play, as well as people paying for reviews. There is some evidence that once a product starts to get good reviews, new reviewers are less likely to give bad reviews. Priming, which is a sales tool, also says if you can prep someone to want or like something, they are much more likely to to want or like something.
All of this does little to help those of us trying to decide what to buy. It does explain how some horrible books I’ve read lately have such high ratings.
For larger purchases, I will take a look to see if there are other reviews out there. For example, the Father’s Day gift for my husband I researched at a couple of different sites that concurred, including Popular Mechanics.
What I don’t know is how to use this information to find good books to read.