Word-of-mouth was a primary way to assess whether a piece of work was worth the time, effort, and money. That would soon change with the advent of internet 2.0. and the rise in prominence of online shopping which includes customer reviews and book reviews.
Amazon – a company that began operating from a garage in Bellevue, Washington, almost 30 years ago – soon became a central hub for online commerce claiming a whopping 37.9% of the online retail sales market share according to last year’s data. This is a huge deal for retail sellers who make use of this marketplace, no matter the target audience they’re commercialising their products to.
With that in mind, more and more people nowadays rely on reviews to analyse a product for one obvious reason: They can’t inspect the product physically! The product reviews section gives potential buyers a degree of assurance that people before them have already tried it and can attest to its quality. This is especially valid for consumer goods of a more intellectual nature, such as books.
Why Reviews Matter
To understand why an Amazon book review is so important, we must first examine how consumers normally behave.
To give some perspective, a recent survey showed that 91% of people read online reviews and 84% of them trust these customer reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends. 68% of surveyed individuals claim to form a quasi-definitive opinion on a product after reading up to six reviews online.
This data shows how those who browse products on the web seek some form of social proof before moving on with a purchase. These prospective customers find value in reading unbiased opinions devoid of the usual aggrandisement that many vendors make of their own brands and products.
Another important thing to factor into the equation, specifically within the context of online book sales, is the target audience. Book enthusiasts love reading, so they’re expected to follow this trend in consumer behavior better than most others.
From the viewpoint of the book retailer or author, customer reviews are not only crucial tools for building up confidence about their output but also for developing brand recognition and increasing their reputation. Moreover, authors with multiple books on sale could, in the event of one well-reviewed book, bring awareness to the rest of their catalog.
Shifting toward the readers’ perspective, customer reviews are valuable resources for exercising quality control and fostering a healthier and more competitive market environment. Through this medium, they can promote an author or book that they particularly care about and want to see succeed or, on the contrary, avert other prospective customers from flipping the pages of a book that may not be worth their money and time or that is not what it purports to be.
How Does Amazon Show Reviews?
When you open a product page on the Amazon website, you are shown a brief description of the product and an abridged specs list. In the case of books, this list will show the page count, the release date, dimensions, language, and the ISBN (International Standard Book Number).
As you scroll down, you’ll be immediately greeted by the book review section, which is formatted to appear prominently at the center of the screen, with the overall ratings on the left-hand side. Amazon gives utmost importance to reviews and places them center stage (quite literally so), putting vendors under public scrutiny. For this reason, traders are incentivised to not dismiss their customers lightly.
Amazon Reviews in Marketing
It is customary for many merchants nowadays to encourage their customers to leave a review on their product page, owing to all the reasons exposed above. What’s more, a high number of reviews and ratings will help position a product in front of potential buyers, especially in a market as overcrowded as the book market.
This is especially palpable when using a mobile app, for example. It’s not strange for apps to prompt a popup window encouraging users to give their feedback. Furthermore, they also tend to ask questions when a person rates the app negatively. This is a technique that developers utilise to let consumers know they care about their opinions, in an attempt to boost engagement.
In the case of Amazon reviews, this feedback has to be gathered in a more organic way. The book author is ultimately responsible for engaging readers so that they’re stimulated to jump over to the product page and leave a review.
Nevertheless, Amazon oftentimes asks buyers to leave their feedback about a product they just bought (either through an email or app notification), which is a very handy feature for both vendors and consumers.
Quality and Quantity
People are inclined to emphasise quality over quantity in most aspects of life. When it comes to product reviews, however, these are both crucial criteria.
We’ve just explained how, the more reviews a product gets, the better it will fare in users’ search results. Yet, these reviews ought to at least touch upon basic aspects of the book, for books are not just any category of consumer goods.
A book is a product of the intellect that demands a more detailed assessment because it’s often the case that the information contained in one portion is better understood after reading its remaining parts (this is predominantly the case with novels and other similar works of fiction.)
The saying goes: “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” a saying that rings extraordinarily true here.
Should All Reviews Be 5-Star Reviews?
It’s rarely possible to dodge bad reviews, for books are frequently prone to subjective criticism and are not capable of pleasing every single reader. After all, we all come from a wide variety of backgrounds and approach subjects in dissimilar ways.
With that said – and as strange as this may sound – having only 5-star ratings and reviews can be a blessing and can help to drive sales for the author. Whilst writing a book may seem to only cost the author time it does cost actual dollars to get to publication. This is due to the cost of editing, formatting, cover design, purchasing ISBNs and registering with a publisher. For this reason the more books an author can sell the more likely they are to at least break even on the cost of publication.
If you have purchased my book please add a review on the platform you bought it from; I would be sincerely grateful!