Amazon customer reviews drastically affect sales?

Obsessed with its rank on Amazon, Allison Burnett watched sales of her his novel plummet after a customer named Jack spearheaded or personally posted a string of negative reviews that caused the novel’s rating to fall from five to three stars.

The review war commenced when Burnett reacted to Jack’s first review:

Although I knew that this one bad review was not going to hurt my book and that it was foolish to let it get to me, I was shaken by Jack’s attack. Until then, Christopher had received 20 customers reviews, all of them five-star. The dozen mainstream reviews, including a full page in the Los Angeles Times’s Sunday Book Review, had been universally wonderful. No one had ever hated my book before. Not to my face. It hurt.

The only way of commenting on a review is to click either “Helpful” or “Not Helpful” in a box above it. I clicked “Not Helpful” above Jack’s, then, to ease my anxiety and to inspire, perhaps, a groundswell of righteous indignation among the wise and the just, I forwarded his review to 200 of my closest friends. The next morning I awoke to find that two readers had joined me in clicking “Not Helpful” atop Jack’s review. I breathed easy. The tide was clearly turning.

Or was it? Evidently, Jack was exquisitely sensitive, because he struck back the very next day, charging in a new one-star review that “Allison Burnett obviously has a mafia of people ready to attack anyone who doesn’t like his crummy book.”

(Via Collected Miscellany.)

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