|Outside Naworth's gates|
Word of mouth has always been touted as the best promotional exercise in selling books, and was always largely a matter of luck. If people liked a book, they told their friends, who read it and told their friends. Now we read the reviews of strangers and wonder if we should take notice or not. If their views on life are different to ours, its likely that we won't share their reading taste, but how are we to know? They may be the author's best buddy, their doting auntie Joan or their worst enemy. We've all seen the title that has ten good reviews, and then tucked in among them, will be the one review that trashes the work. Follow that reviewers name, and you may well find that they trash every book they read.
Amazon.com is aware of the problem and has created a badge system to identify a cadre of reviewers who can be trusted. Go to Amazon, click on any recently published book and page down beyond the "official reviews" to Customer Reviews. If the reviewer identifies himself as regularly reviewing or blogging about specific genres, it is possible that this person’s judgment is reliable and enlightening, and more importantly, co-incides with your reading tastes. It’s worth your time to click on the link that says “See all my reviews,” or on the badge beneath the reviewers name.