Sunday, July 14, 2013

Reviews: Should We Rely On Them?

Reviews: should we rely on them? With the popularity of the Internet growing, many review sites are popping up everywhere. Amazon encourages their customers to write reviews. Most of the reviews I have read appear to be a fair account of that reader's experience. Because they have room to explain, we often know why they liked or didn't like a book. And, because we all have varying taste, one person may not like a book, but five others may have enjoyed their reading experience. I rarely rely on one review when deciding whether or not to purchase a book and I won't let one or two bad reviews prevent me from buying a book if there are just as many positive reviews. I will also read the blurb and the excerpt.

I admit, when I read reviews about Audiobooks, I do keep an eye out for complaints about the voice of the person presenting the story. If I'm hesitant about purchasing the download, I will listen to the sample to make sure the voice of the reader won't ruin the experience.

Do I rely on reviewers? I believe in looking at more than one review when deciding if I should purchase a book. It is now going to be my practice for choosing movies as well. My husband and I were trying to decide on a movie and I looked at the newspaper reviews. Once before, I wondered what standard this reviewer used to judge movies. After last night, I don't trust his reviews for my viewing pleasure. I had been thinking of going to see the new Lone Ranger movie, but he only gave it two stars. He gave Heat, which I enjoyed, three stars; so when he gave This is the End four stars, I thought it had to be a great comedy. He doesn't give out many four star ratings. To be fair, the movie is making a lot of money at the box office. The movie is a satire of both horror films and celebrity lifestyles. I did laugh and even screamed, so it wasn't a total waste, but it was also crude, very crude. I decided the reviewer must enjoy what I call teen boy humor. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, only that if I were pitching the story, I would say it is aimed for young males. I wish I had known this when he wrote his review. I didn't appreciate spending $30-$40 at the theater for this viewing experience. I probably would have watched it on DVD because of the trailers and not have been upset because it wouldn't have cost so much. Walking out of the theater, I wished I had seen The Lone Ranger. I learned a valuable lesson: read more than one review for movies, too.

So, should we rely on reviewers? Not totally and not just one reviewer. Word of mouth from people who share your taste, several reviews, excerpts, trailers...can all be combined to help you make an informed decision.

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