Monday, March 11, 2013

Why My Ratings Differ by Platform

It occurred to me last night, as I worked on a book review on Goodreads, that my rating system might be a bit confusing for people who don't understand the way that my mind works, or the way that I review books. My full policy isn't up yet (I'll get to it soonish), but I wanted to cover this ground with you because I think that it's important to understand and important for reviewers to understand the way that their review affects such things as the author's sales.

I generally review books on several sites, but always make sure to post a review on Hubpages, Amazon, and Goodreads. Soon I'll be adding reviews to my blog as well. This is a lot of work, but I do each of these reviews for different reasons. 

The reviews on Hubpages are written as a message to the author and to potential readers. These are very detailed reviews, the purpose of which is to analyze the novels that I read and break down what I liked, what I didn't like, and why I liked or didn't like these different things. They are usually written from the point of view of the person I'm recommending the book for, so that I can instruct other people that even though x didn't bother me, it might bother you. I review on Hubpages on a generous 1-5 star scale, meaning that if I liked a book, I generally give it five stars. It takes a lot for me to give a low review on Hubpages.

On Amazon, I review books in order to help the buyer decide whether or not the book is worth buying. I review on Amazon in order to help out the author, and I review on a 1-3 star scale (using one, three and five stars in order to make my point). If I think that a book is worth someone buying, I rate it five stars. If it's iffy, I rate it three stars. If I think that it should be avoided or is really bad, I rate it one star. (Note that this is a new policy that I am implementing for my reviews, so if you're looking at my older reviews on Amazon, you're not going to see this as a trend).

And on Goodreads? That's where I'm honest. It's on Goodreads that I really lay it all on the line, what I liked about a book, what I didn't like about a book, and whether or not I want to risk recommending it to my friends when they might not like the book that I enjoyed. I rate on a brutal 1-5 scale, where only the best books get my five star rating and only the worst get a one star. These are the books that I recommend to my friends, the people I really know and care about.

(By the way, is Goodreads down for anybody else?)

So since it's Monday, I figured that I'd do the It's Monday, What are You Reading? thing. 

It's pathetic this week. I'm still reading Beautiful Creatures. I ought to be finished with it this week though (like, tonight) so Divergent is up next on my list. If I manage to finish that, the next one up is Before I Fall. Are you noticing a book-to-movies theme here? Well there isn't one, at least not exactly. I got these books through recommendations, then found out they were being made into movies!

Image is credit to Andrew Xu on Flickr..


  1. I recently finished Beautiful Creatures and really enjoyed it. Same with Divergent - although I didn't love Before I Fall as much - took me a wile to get into it, but I got there. I hope you enjoy all these books and look forward to seeing what you think.

    Tanya Patrice

    1. I've tried to read Before I fall once before, but I had a hard time getting absorbed into it. I think I'll enjoy it once I can get through it though. At least I hope so!

  2. I used to use Amazon reviews as a reference but found that they were often inconsistent and ill considered. I find goodreads is a much more consistent forum for reviews with consistent quality information and I have a list of blogs and bloggers I consider reliable, sometimes I will buy and read a book just because of a recommendation from one of those.
    Not a big fan of star ratings especially on Amazon as to many seem to be one extreme or the other either 1 star or 5 without quality information in the review to back it up.
    And having said all that I will admit to being quite lazy on goodreads and often writing only a brief comment on the book and giving a star rating, generally a 3 or 4, sometimes a 5 but rarely a 1, in fact I don't think I have ever encountered a book that warrants a 1.

    1. I've never quite been able to get away from star ratings, mainly because I haven't come up with anything better. Five stars isn't quite enough to finesse the rating, though, and I've thought of going to a ten-point scale with the books that I read in order to allow for more detail.

      That being said, the fact of the matter is that the star rating means almost nothing. What one person doesn't like I might love, and vice versa. I did not like Beautiful Creatures and it gets very good reviews generally (on both Goodreads and Amazon).

      I think that with Amazon, there's a lack of personal connection that makes it easier to just brush over your reviews, because you're not reviewing for your friends, or for the people who actually matter to you.

      Regardless, I feel like at a certain point it's important to give the author that boost, if the boost is well deserved.

  3. I paste my reviews between a few places and the rating system is different in each one. I just use my best judgment I guess.

    I hope you enjoy your reading choices this week!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out