Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A Book Review of Mine Creates Some Buzz on Amazon

Here we go again. This is the second time an author has contacted me about a book review I wrote and published on Amazon.com that they didn't like. The first time I was contacted via email because I used to have my email visible on Amazon.com. This time this bestselling-book author commented on the Amazon review.

The consensus at the Book Blogger Convention 2010 held last week was that it is thought to be a bad idea to contact amateur book reviewers or even professional book reviewers about book reviews on websites, blogs, or on booksellers websites like Amazon.com. Most authors said they don't even read reviews and basically concentrate on doing what they do: writing and creating.

I have a major issue with the branding of this book and mixing a book series that was for ages 9-12 for the books that kicked off the series then having mature content in the next installment. The author stated on Amazon.com in response to my review that he thought the age range for readers was 14 and up. On the day my review was published the publisher's site said ages 18 and up. This makes no sense for a book with "for boys" in the title to suddenly be marketed to ages 18 and up and also a series that starts for ages 9-12 to suddenly move to 18 and up. I'm sorry that is deceptive. Who stands to be hurt by this? Kids who perhaps don't need some of these concepts put into their heads.

Today I mentioned this in a blog post comment that has negative opinions of Amazon Vine reviewers, accusing them of always writing 4 or 5 star reviews just because they got a book or product for free. So now one comment rolled in soon thereafter.

Let the criticism of my review continue!

Here's my review as published on Amazon.

If anyone has something to say, especially in support of me, consider commenting too. You might as well chime in too.

Dangerous Book of Heroes for Boys book review for Amazon Vine by ChristineMM published on Amazon.com

Maybe I'm getting burned out of this reviewing....I'm asking myself: why do I bother? For now I continue to feel that some people out there appreciate my views. I've been told that not everyone votes on the Amazon customer reviews even when they do find them helpful and I should not look to the number of helpful votes for verification that my views are appreciated.


Kathryn said...

I read the reviews all of the time. If there is a review that is somewhat negative, I want to know why and from what perspective are they looking at. This is of course to help me to decide yay or nay on whether or not I want the product -the intended reason in the first place. So thank you and keep voicing your opinions. People need them from time to time.

Stay At Home Mom at Work said...

I read the comments on Amazon, from the author and yourself on this book. Speaking from a mother who has a 8 year old son who loves his 'Dangerous Book for Boys', I would have definately bought this Heroes Book thinking that I trust the authors to market to the same audience level. Boy would I have been irrate to find these things in it, that my son would have come across! There definately should have been a disclaimer on the front cover: "For ages 18 and older".

Having read the comments to my hubbie, though, he wants to get the book for himself to read.....at age 35!

Thanks for your review, it helps to make good conscious decisions when at times, we trust all too often authors to consistantly put out same age material.

Rob said...

You're right. The author is wrong. Tone matters, branding matters, and you are absolutely right to point out the origins of the "Dangerous Book" series.

I've reviewed them in the past myself. I liked the book for boys. The book for girls was problematic. It contains descriptions of how to use a Ouiji Board and conduct a seance. NOT appropriate for the audience for my reviews.

I actually LIKE the historical fiction that the author has published - He has an multi-volume retelling of the life of Julius Caesar and another on Genghis Khan - but they are NOT appropriate for children.

You review does a great service for readers and potential buyers by alerting them to what's in the book. The author is way out of line to challenge it.

C T said...

I appreciate your reviews. They seem quite fair. Criticism is an expected part of a review, so please keep including it when warranted!

admin said...

There are several things I didn't like about your review although I did think it was helpful in alerting parents to the mature content. I dislike nothing more than accidently giving my nine year old inappropriate things to read by accident.

However, your review did not come across as objective in some important ways.

Firstly, you start the review by telling us that you "hated it by the third story" and that you had not read the whole book.

Apart from my dislike of the imflammatory language ( I constantly reprimand my children for using the word hate) if you are going to review an authors work in such a public manner, and potentially affect their sales you should at least have the decency to read the whole thing through.

Next, you say "I am totally CONFUSED as to why the publisher would even have the word "BOY" in the title". There is only one problem with this. The book doesn't have the word "boy" in the title. The title is "The Dangerous Book Of Heroes". There is a title amongst the series that is for boys, but there are other books that aren't. Just because an author aims one title at boys doesn't mean they are then precluded from writing for other groups. As the other titles have had great success it would be a little harsh to expect the author not to relate the titles.

I don't understand your point about the book being confusing because it includes heroes from old times and modern times. It is a book about hereos, why should it limit itself to one period in history.

The final part of your review comes across as bizarre and without foundation. Particularly the part about the kama sutra as pornography.

Your review made me feel very sorry for the author. They wrote this as a book for adults and you have reviewed it as a children's book. As a reader I wondered whether you had some personal disagreement with the author that would make you write such an unbalanced review.

christinemm said...

This is the first review I've published on Amazon when I didn't read the whole book. I usually read it cover to cover. One reason I put off publishing this for about two months was I hated the book so much for all the other reasons (boring, bad pace, story details not fleshed out enough, etc.) and couldn't do it. How much is enough? If I disliked multiple stories in a collection, which is different than a novel which is one story that arcs over the span of the whole book. Why should I force myself through the whole thing?

One time I forced myself through the whole memoir to be "fair for the review" which I gave 3 stars and said it just wasn't for me and it was also largely content not in the marketing materials. The author attacked me via email with really nasty comments. Two customers of Amazon attacked me, one because the author was a favorite actor of hers from a popular TV show (never mentioned in the book or bio and I'd not even known that fact not that it matters but...) and the other outright stated anyone giving the book 3 stars or less got a 'not helpful' vote and a rude comment added. I wound up deleting the review.

Also there was enough mature content in the Burton story for me it was enough to not put the book in my child's hands.

RE: this book I felt the issue of mature content was an issue that needed alerting and for that reason I felt I had enough info with what I knew from the partial reading to publish my review based on what I felt after a partial reading.

Lastly, upon reflecting on this over the last few days after seeing people's opinions I stand more firm that this book should have been published with a different title by the publisher and not a part of a SERIES that began for children aged 9-12. Therein lies the problem.

There is only one reason they did that: for profit, based on the large success of the first book "Dangerous Book for Boys". I am sure they wanted to piggyback off that and make more sales to parents and grandparents to give to children.

SassyMom said...

Well... I hate it when that happens! I wrote a comment, but when I tried to post it, it gave me a webpage error message... It figures! I can try recalling what I wrote, but in order to avoid repeating myself, I will wait to hear from you on whether you did receive that original post or not. It was regarding your review on Amazon.com of Theodore Wade's The Homeschool Manual.

In any case, thank you!

SassyMom from Pennsylvania. ;-)