Edgar Allen Poe, Criticism, and Amazon Book Reviews

I am still thinking about my visit to the Poe Museum earlier this week. Poe made himself unpopular with the literary establishment of the day by being brutally honest in his criticism of other writers.

Poe railed against writers who got their friends to write them glowing reviews. He probably would embrace Amazon book reviews.  Gregory Ferenstein wrote in May 15, 2012 TechCrunch article, “Amazon Killed The Book Reviewer Star.”

“Authors no longer have to impress stodgy English majors to get their book a quality review: new research from the Harvard Business Review shows that the aggregate rating of Amazon reviewers are every bit as good as professional book critics.

Professional book critics, on the other hand, suffer from nepotism: critics give more favorable reviews to their colleagues, authors who agree with their ideological slant, and if the book has been given an award by other critics. The result, implies this new research, is that Amazon has democratized the book reviewing process, with consumer reviewers less beholden to special interests and more representative of the book-reading masses. Perhaps most importantly, it rebuts critics who have claimed that Amazon is nothing more than a cauldron of corrupt and uneducated opinions.”

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About medievalphyllis

I love history and I love writing. I've been working on an historical novel about a medieval viscountess, Ermengarde of Narbonne since 2009. It has been quite a journey and the journey isn't over. Previously I written 6 historical novels for kids, but this is a new challenge.
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2 Responses to Edgar Allen Poe, Criticism, and Amazon Book Reviews

  1. robinelevin says:

    I do a lot of Amazon reviews, 64 to date. I think that there is a certain distortion built into the system. Having some books on Amazon myself I am reluctant to post negative reviews for fear of retaliation, although I did recently post a two star review of a book I found extremely violent. In some cases the distortion is obvious, as in the case of Reza Aslan’s Zealot, The Life and times of Jesus of Nazareth. It received 366 five star reviews, 215 one star reviews and only 127 in between. Seem that there was a campaign on the part of fundamentalists to discredit the book for religious reasons. Ironically, the negative publicity made the book shoot up to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list despite an aggregate rating of less than four stars.

    • Hi Robin,

      I am aware that there have been some manipulation of product reviews. I suspect abuse is inevitable. And yes, people have political agendas. I’m just hopeful that in the aggregate, the reviews will reflect the quality of the books. I guess if I wasn’t an optimist, I’d never write books.

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