Apparently, there’s a 60-year old retired librarian in Atlanta, who’s posted 7 Amazon book reviews a day… for more than a decade. She’s up to 28,000+!
What makes her significant – besides the fact that she’s one of the most prolific freakin’ reviewers in literary history – is that she’s at the heart of a raging debate over the validity of the Amazon book comment/rating system. Plenty of people argue that her reviews are fake and that she’s been hired by publishers and authors to push certain eBook/book titles. The jury’s still out.
In case you haven’t heard, these types of supposedly fraudulent reviews are known as “sock puppets,” and they’ve become a kind of “bête noire” of sorts to Amazon. They’ve been used effectively to increase sales for some authors and, in many cases, to pretty much kill any chance of success for others.
How can prospective book buyers trust the recommendations on the site? Or any other site, for that matter?
This is the type of conundrum that’s particular to the digital age in general and to social media in particular, where opinions often fall under the umbrella of free speech – regardless of their accuracy. It affects other retailers like Diesel, of course, as well as some in different industries, like Yelp. Basically, it’s at an epidemic level.
Here are a couple of interesting, recent articles on the topic – one of which outlines some of the steps Amazon is taking or plans to take to tackle and curb the rise of those darn sock puppets. Read them here , and here.
Short of banning reviews altogether, I say good luck to that. Hey, we certainly don’t have any solutions. That’s for sure. It still isn’t much of an issue to our particular business. So, we’re just pointing things out.
But personally, the only sock puppet whose opinion I would implicitly trust is Triumph the Insult Comic Dog ’s.