Reviewing for Amazon and Goodreads

Before I joined Goodreads, I had no idea how popular a site it was. I decided to do a little comparison of other places people rate books, and it looks like nothing else comes close:

What Happens in London, by Julia Quinn

Borders.com, 2 reviews
LibraryThing, 26 reviews
Barnes & Noble, 86 ratings, 35 reviews,
Amazon.com, 108 reviews
Goodreads, 1,324 ratings, 255 reviews

Lover Mine, J. R Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood Nhumber Eighht)

Borders.com, 23 reviews
LibraryThing, 22 reviews (372 members) 23 reviews
Barnes & Noble, 739 ratings, 215 reviews
Amazon.com, 343 reviews
Goodreads, 4,495 ratings, 877 reviews

Crazy For Love, Victoria Dahl

Borders.com, 0 reviews (?)
LibraryThing, 4 reviews (34 members)
Barnes&Noble, 11 ratings, 6 reviews
Amazon, 25 reviews
Goodreads, 140 ratings, 54 reviews

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson, 72,133 ratings, 18,012 reviews

Borders.com, 3 reviews (?)
LibraryThing, 752 reviews (12, 597 members)
Barnes&Noble, 2,951 ratings
Amazon.com, 1,816 reviews
Goodreads, 72,133 ratings, 18,012 reviews

Another surprise was seeing people who have (or had) book blogs writing reviews for Amazon and Goodreads. It’s possible to write one review and have it appear on all three sites.

Thinking about all of this, I have some questions:

Why do you (or don’t you) write reviews for Amazon and/or Goodreads?

If you blog, do you find it is good for your blog to post reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads?

After looking at these numbers, I am thinking it might be a bigger help to authors (and fellow readers) to post reviews (well, positive ones anyway) on Goodreads or Amazon.com than on our blogs, especially us smaller bloggers who don’t generate massive traffic anyway.  And before anyone gets huffy, I am not saying readers have to help authors in any way, but if we wanted to (hey, all that angst about the midlist has me worried), out of the fangirlygoodness of our hearts, it seems like that would be one way to do it. Confirming this suspicion, an author who had a release this week asked Twitter followers to go to Amazon and post reviews.

What say you?

30 responses

  1. In addition to Smexy, I post my reviews to Amazon and Goodreads. I love GR – it is the first place I go to check out reviews for a book…I have had great discussions there..so I post there more for myself…but I think it definitely helps my blog.

    I post to Amazon because I think authors appreciate it..otherwise I wouldn’t do it. I think I like GR better because I get to know the people on there…you can start trusting their judgement..Amazon is much more impersonal.

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  2. I’ve read where authors will say to reviewers and bloggers to post review on Amazon, either good or bad because apparently Amazon is the holy grail for most authors, although less than 10% of items bought on Amazon are books.

    Goodread is become more noticeable for reviewing and the Sony has a new deal with Goodreads for anyone to bring up their reviews on an ereader.

    I’ve been posting reviews on Amazon since 2002 and only on Goodreads since last years. And once I post a review on my blog, it’s very easy to post on Amazon and Goodreads. I do this with all my reviews, both positive and negative, although the comments people have been leaving on Amazon reviews have become down right nasty and immature.

    I couldn’t say if posting a review on Amazon or Goodreads helps my blog traffic. If it does, I haven’t noticed.

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  3. I think the “reviews” for Goodreads is a bit deceptive. They call any rating a review. In most cases it’s not an actual review but just a star rating by someone.

    I think Amazon has a “rating” system without a review but it’s hard to see what that is. If you go to the book page, it only shows the ratings of the actual real reviews posted.

    So I don’t think you can completely compare Amazon with Goodreads on that level.

    I used to post reviews on Amazon before I started my blog but started my blog because I didn’t feel I could be completely honest on Amazon or use language that might get me deleted on Amazon.

    I also don’t like so much the “Is this review helpful” thingys. I’ve had people do a string of this is NOT helpful and then tell me that my review sucked because certain actors weren’t in the film. WTF? So I got pissed off with posting on Amazon and the flaming.

    I prefer Goodreads because people don’t seem to be so petty there. I use it manly to keep track of the books I read or have, but I like that it’s more casual and less backbiting.

    On Goodreads you can just give a star rating, say a few words, or write a whole review and it’s all good.

    I’ve linked my Goodreads account to my blog and vice versa but I haven’t linked my blogs to my Amazon account because I’m more particular about what I post on Amazon and I review other genre’s like music, movies and such.

    I’ve read and heard that authors prefer or like if you post a review on Amazon since it gets the most mainstream traffic. If I’m asked to, I will post a review I did on my blog on Amazon. But I don’t go out of my way usually to do so.

    Ultimately, I prefer to post reviews on my blog the most since I’m free to write what I want. My blog is specific to readers of f/f and lesbian romance, so I will often include specifics in that area on my blog review that I will not on Goodreads if it’s a book that includes m/f.

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  4. I’m a little more willing to post on Goodreads these days than on Amazon. I did the Amazon game for a few years and it just started to get nasty over there in review comments, as it still can these days. I resorted to my own blog as a result (one of a few reasons). I haven’t posted many reviews on Goodreads yet. Mostly use it for me, to keep notes on the books I’m reading. I would be willing to post more there than on Amazon, though. Although things can certainly degrade on Goodreads in comments as well. At least I don’t have to put up with that at my blog if I don’t want to.

    Oh, and clearly you’re a mind reader. Some of us were just discussing this subject, in a way. Between this and the timeliness of your Mean Girls post, you cannot convince me otherwise! Quick – what color top am I wearing tonight? You know, I know so. ;)

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  5. @LVLMLeah: I was going to say the same thing. Not all of those GoodRead reviews are what would normally be considered reviews.

    I dabbled in amazon, decided I didn’t like the reviewing culture there. I like GoodReads a lot.

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  6. Goodreads is not kerfluffle free … or so I’ve heard. For me it’s a place to keep my books straight, to read the opinions of others and mostly just to sort out, comparatively, how one book — in MY lexicon — compares to another (again, on my personal bookshelves). Authors are on Goodreads and in fact, when reviewing one of their books, Goodreads lets you know that. So question for Jessica: if you post a good review to Goodreads (and why not, getting more mileage and readership seems like a “good” thing), does that mean if you read a book and don’t enjoy it that you won’t review it on Goodreads? By review it I mean, enter it into the Goodreads system and give it a rating. I shouldn’t say “you” because I mean “me” too. It’s a helluva lot easier to rip through a long list of books by an author knowing that they’re not on goodreads. Should it matter?

    This came up on the Book Lovers board and here’s a link: http://members7.boardhost.com/bookreviews/msg/1284300059.html I thought good issues were raised.

    Lastly, I think the goodreads ***** are too positive — by that I mean I wish there was more room for nuanced assigning of grades. Why not half stars? I guess I’m worried that a place that I see as a bookshelf organizer, mostly for me, might morph into something different, altho the aspect of goodreads that I really like is the chance for different opinions to come forth. Example: there’s an Osborne book that I liked somewhat more than two popular bloggers & the gal today who reviewed it on goodreads had yet another approach to it. Goodreads at its best is intensely democratic with many voices prevailing.

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  7. I try to rate every book I read at Goodreads, although it’s sometimes hard to keep track. I review some of them, and some at Amazon, usually when it’s a book that I think is under a lot of people’s radar and I want to bring it more attention, but also just if I have some time on my hands or something particular I want to say. Or if I read an ARC, because I know traffic at those sites is much higher than at my blog.

    I occasionally post the same review on my blog as on another site, but I don’t have my blog linked to either Goodreads or Amazon. I talk about things other than books on my blog, and people who want to find it usually can, but I would rather that trolls who disagree with my Amazon reviews not come over to my place. So I guess I’ve deliberately chosen not to have my reviews elsewhere increase my blog traffic.

    I don’t read comments on my reviews after I post them at Amazon. I don’t have the notification feature on, and I don’t go back and look. I never think to pay attention to that at Goodreads — I just went over and checked, and of the 266 books I have rated and listed as “read,” I have actually written review-like comments for 31 of them, and no one has commented on my reviews. I do my conversing in other venues.

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  8. I’m pretty new to GR – I don’t think I’ve done any reviews or ratings yet. When I find some time, I’d like to put the blog reviews on GR too – it’s probably easy but I haven’t looked into it yet. Other than that, I put reviews on NetGalley when I’ve picked up a book from there but they are on my blog too. I’m fairly new to blogging too – I only started putting up reviews this year, so I’m still learning “the ropes”.

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  9. I’ve sometimes posted reviews from my blog on amazon, but usually of old out-of-print or little known books which haven’t got much information on their pages. I haven’t done it for the authors though, but for the benefit of other readers. I was inspired by someone who’s posted really good, in depth reviews of old Mary Balogh regencies which I found very helpful, and I wanted to do the same.

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  10. The nastiness on Amazon that Katiebabs mentioned is also discussed by Laurie Gold on her blog:

    I think, but can’t be sure, that an anti-fan is determined to screw me over on Amazon (click here for my profile page). Yesterday I received five “unhelpful” votes out of five votes in total, and what really makes me believe I’m actually not paranoid is this: My review of Alison Kent’s upcoming release (in other words, the book is not yet available for sale) for the new True Vows imprint of reality-based romances is one of two four-star reviews at Amazon. The other has one of one helpful votes. Mine has just one helpful vote…of four.

    This is the kind of thing that has kept me well away from Amazon thus far.

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  11. it might be a bigger help to authors (and fellow readers) to post reviews (well, positive ones anyway) on Goodreads or Amazon.com than on our blogs, especially us smaller bloggers who don’t generate massive traffic anyway.

    Yes, and they don’t even have to be positive reviews. A couple of studies have shown that more reviews = more attention = more sales.

    There are ‘influencers’ whose solo blogging can sway the public. E.g. when MJ Rose ‘hand-yells’ books on Buzz, Balls, Hype, she probably has much greater reach than the average blogger. However, even a large blog may not influence enough people *to buy* to make up for not being a major point of sale; I have a feeling that’s partly logistics and partly because many users’ intent in reading a blog (read) is not the same as in going to Amazon (buy).

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  12. I’ve been thinking about this since I posted my comment last night. I *have* thought about posting on Amazon again….maybe I will from time to time, or if an author requests it. I mean, I guess you don’t have to respond to the comments on Amazon. I’d started doing so less and less. Amazon’s where I started reviewing. I dunno, it used to be fun. Eh… but the point of helping authors out is a good one and I certainly agree with RfP that it doesn’t have to be positive reviews only. Something to ponder I suppose.

    I will say that Amazon’s, or anyone’s, idea of rating the reviews themselves seems silly. But maybe especially Amazon because there’s always been controversy over their system not being especially….well, helpful. It’s too easy to abuse.

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  13. Thanks for this awesome comparison!

    I just wanted to chime in as a newbie author who’s incessantly trying to gather data on the effect of Amazon and Goodreads as well as guest blogs and such.

    Goodreads seems to have a more visible reader community with their to-read lists. Amazon has a similar list function, but readers don’t seem to use it in the same way. Also new books and giveaways seem to get visibility and reach beyond just your “friends” on Goodreads.

    Based on that, it does seem like Goodreads reviews result in more interest than on Amazon or individual blogs. However, that’s likely because there is a metric you an easily use on Goodreads, i.e. the number of users who have added the book versus purchases on Amazon (since interest does not necessarily result in an immediate buy) and versus comments on guest blogs. Again, the interest is not easily visible from blog traffic and comments.

    On Amazon, reviews are not allowed until the release date so this also makes it harder to rate GR and Amazon side by side. I can’t say whether or not growing sales on Amazon is in linked to reviews at this point.

    Also this is correlation and not necessarily causation. The growing number of ratings and reviews on Goodreads may simply coincide with growing interest in the book as the release date nears. And effectiveness of the book blog community in driving traffic to Goodreads and Amazon hasn’t been accounted for.

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  14. Because most of my reviews on Amazon are for romance, I’ve gotten into some altercations for less than stellar reviews for horror books I’ve posted where I was told that I had no right to review books outside the romance genre because I don’t have any clue what I’m talking about.

    I’ve also noticed on Amazon if you give a negative review for a book that has mainly positive reviews, the trolls come out and do whatever they can, to make you feel stupid.

    Also this whole getting upset about a group giving you unhelpful reviews and are out to get you for some reason seems silly if you ask me. I review on Amazon just for fun and don’t really care if Joe Schmoe gives me 100 unhelpful clicks. What’s the point in getting upset over something so small?

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  15. One thing I’d like to add about a difference in Amazon and Goodreads is that it’s easy to see when an author and his/her friends gave a book a great rating. There is a trend on Goodreads that authors rate their own books.

    I don’t get that. It looks a bit pathetic to me. But as a reader it makes it easier for me to suss out which are real reader reviews vs. author and friends reviews, which I completely discount. With Goodreads you can easily click on the people who rated a book and see if they are authors and if they are friends with the author whose book they rated.

    @katiebabs:

    You are right, it’s not worth getting in a tizz about. However, it’s just stupid and petty and if I write a review for a book and spend the time doing it to give other readers an idea of a book, then getting flamed for it by people just being childish and spiteful is a huge turn off and I’d rather not post my reviews there then. It’s why I stopped posting on Amazon and started my own blog where I could have meaningful discussion of books.

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  16. @katiebabs … touching wood here since I haven’t been trolled by anyone. I wouldn’t characterize feeling like someone had a vendetta against me as having a tizz. That’s scary stuff. You know how ghastly it is when bizarros post comments to blogs: why else would we all have filter software?

    In “real” world, I’ve seen corporations masking themselves as individuals to try to hop onto to popular sites and ride their popularity. I wish it was all sweetness and light (or catty criticism and cackling) … but all from and by rational, real people but sadly there is a bit of a lunatic fringe out there.

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  17. Janet W: Amazon has become unsettling in some ways because there are rumors flying around that corporations are paying these top Amazon reviews to review their products and in order to get their paycheck they have to keep other reviews down, which means popping up and being catty and clicking that unhelpful button.

    I wonder why Harriet Kalusner still only reviews on Amazon and not Goodreads? But then again she or them have become such an on-line urban legend.

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  18. As an author, I’ve found it very difficult to gauge how useful Goodreads reviews are-or Amazon, for that matter. It’s so hard to know what sort of promotional activities actually results in sales. While I think word-of-mouth is still probably the most common and effective way for a book title or author name to gain popularity, unless you hit one of the major best-seller lists (very difficult for an author writing in my genre, erotic romance), we don’t have much information to go on. Seeing here how readers use the review functions on these sites is probably the most accurate touch-stone I have, so thank you for posting this topic-very helpful!
    Can anyone comment as to whether or not they follow the Amazon or Goodreads author blog posts? I’m still unsure as to whether this is a good use of time for an author-and lately Amazon has not been letting me post (some software malfunction) which is very frustrating.

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  19. @Eden Bradley/Eve Berlin: I don’t know how Amazon works, but GoodReads author blogs don’t have to be for GoodReads alone – in other words, you can have a regular blog and GoodReads will import it for your fans there. So you get more bang for the time buck.

    I wouldn’t know how to quantify it, but I do think GoodReads has some result on sales. I get ideas about what to read from my friends and groups there and I see it happening with others. A very positive review will get people interested. (And vice versa, of course.)

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  20. I don’t write reviews on Amazon or Goodreads for the reasons I don’t blog…I’m lazy and, while I’ve always been a voracious reader, I’ve never liked writing. I find it easier to join in a conversation by commenting on a blog or message board rather than initiating the discussion.

    I’ve only recently heard of Goodreads. I’m sure I’d seen it mentioned, but I never paid any attention until now. After browsing the site for a few minutes, I don’t think I’ll be spending much time there. While I obsessively read Amazon reviews of all kinds of things, books have never been on the list. I prefer blogs and dedicated review sites for books. I like to “know” the people who’s book reviews I’m reading. The ratings and reviews from a large number of people on a site like Amazon have never been helpful to me. And because I sometimes forget that not everyone thinks like I do, I don’t bother rating or reviewing, because I figure nobody will find it useful. I never thought about authors’ opinions on this until this post.

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  21. I’ve been on GR for a year or so but just figured out how to become a “Goodreads author.” I kept seeing blog feeds and I was so puzzled about how authors were adding those. I even asked Carolyn Crane how she did it! haha. Anyway. I love the site because it’s a giant virtual library + social media. Two of my favorite things. Only problem is same as always: so many books, so little time.

    Amazon is too big and impersonal, I guess. On GR I can see what my friends are reading.

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  22. I just discovered Goodreads earlier this year, but I spend a lot of time on it now. I love that my “friends” post status updates on books and we can debate or laud certain points. I’ve seen status updates turn into hundred comment threads. All of your friends see your post on the status update (unless you specify otherwise) so more and more people jump into the conversation.

    It’s what I’ve always wanted, but could never have because none of my friends read my style books. I just wanted a place to chat about books. Posting reviews is even more helpful because it sparks your friends’ interest and then they’ll probably read the book too. Then you get to chat more about ti. :)

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  23. I am too lazy to cross-post reviews. However, one site I review for requires cross-posting on amazona and goodreads, so I have no choice.
    Other than that I only post on goodreads if I really loved the book and think the author should be supported that way (not that I think my little review is a big help, but you know what I mean).

    No, posting all your reviews on GR is probably not good for your blog’s traffic.

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  24. Excellent post. As a writer and a reader, I prefer goodreads. I get a lot more general public feedback there and it the end that’s what really counts for me. I love knowing what worked and what didn’t. I also try to leave similar feedback to those I read. Goodreads has a wonderful, supportive community.

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  25. Rikki-your review *can* be a big help -if it’s positive, of course…:) I’ve heard from readers who have bought one of my books for the first time because a friend recommended it-and that can mean in a conversation with them, or in a review they’ve posted somewhere: GR, their blog, etc.
    As I mentioned before, word-of-mouth is still the best way I know of for an author to gain new readers, so every ‘little review’ can have a big impact. Thanks to all of you who do post reviews! I know it takes time and effort, and as an author, I truly appreciate it.

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  26. I post my wee reviewettes on my blog and as comments on my books at LibraryThing. I’m trying to get better about adding them to GoodReads. For me, GRs is mostly social, while LT is where I actually manage my library. The data geek in me can’t resist how databasey LT feels.

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  27. Popping out of lurk mode.

    I have been on Goodreads for nearly 2 years! (OMG!) ANd I love it.

    I have tracked and rated every book I have read since 2008. I like the fact that you don’t have to review a book to leave a rating. I am a lazy blogger at best. Non-exsistent at my worst. This way I feel like I am contributing a little. I do occasionally leave little reviews. I have met so many people and found other blogs from goodreads. And they also split the reviews into reviews your friends have done on a title and the rest of them. I usually find the average rating for any book is a good barometer for me and if I am not sure about a book, I always check it out on Goodreads first to see what the rating is.

    There is a great community feel there and I think there is a bookswap facility (at least in the US) which is good. I haven’t seen too much trouble and I have my goodreads linked to my Twitter and Facebook and Blog.

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  28. As a voracious reader, I go to Goodreads several times a day. I search recommendations, and read reviews on Amazon as well, but I rarely leave a review on Amazon. I always leave a review on GR. My biggest reason is that on Goodreads I’ve compiled a contingent of “friends” that have similar reading tastes. So, when I look up a book on GR, I see what my friends had to say about it as well. When my friends leave a review, I get an email notification.

    Also, GR is a lot like Facebook in that you can update your status while reading. It’s fun when friends are reading books concurrently to discuss them. Goodreads just has more traffic and usability than the other sites. You can also send book recommendations on GR.

    I think that authors wishing to get the word out about their books should embrace Goodreads as a much better platform than Amazon. Although, Amazon, of course, still remains the “place to be.” GR has many functions that Amazon, and blogs, do not.

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