New search tip: sort by Most Reviews

New search tip: sort by Most Reviews

I think a lot of times, people go into the Kindle store looking for a “mainstream” book. They want a “People Magazine book”, as I call them: one that would have been reviewed in that publication. They want what they consider a “real book”, a popular book.

You can’t sort in the Kindle store by Avg. Customer Review and find that…you’ll find many faith-based titles at the top of the lists (I think people tend to give those higher reviews), but not necessarily well-known ones.

Sorting by publication date doesn’t work, either. Not only are obscure indies added every day, but publication date is what the publisher puts on it…not when the book was originally published. A bestseller from 1942 may have a 2014 publication date: that’s just up to the publisher to choose. I see people asking sometimes why Amazon doesn’t put the date on there. Well, that’s a surprising amount of work. You’d have to verify that the book was the book you thought it was…that it wasn’t a new translation, or a book with the same name, or that a new introduction hadn’t been added to it. Then, you’d have to search publication records.

It might sound easy, but all of that would add to the cost of selling it, and would introduce another area for error on Amazon’s part…better to let the publisher choose, I think.

Interestingly, a strong indicator is the number of reviews.

I don’t think I’ve seen a book in the Kindle store with, oh, over 5,000 reviews where I hadn’t heard of it.

Up until recently, that hasn’t been a sort option.

I was surprised to see it today…at least for the Kindle Matchbook program books:

Kindle Matchbook sorted by most reviews (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That program lets you buy an e-book if you buy (or have bought from Amazon in the past) a p-book (paperbook). That’s only true for a certain set of books…45,297 at time of writing.

Here are the top books that appear:

I’m guessing you’ve heard of all three of those…and I might have had the three of them in the window when I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore.

Unfortunately, as I was looking around the Kindle store, I wasn’t seeing that as a sort option. It could be that they are just rolling it out, or testing  (Amazon does that a lot) to see how it impacts sales and how often it is used.

However…

I did notice something when I did the search!

At the end of the URL (uniform or universal resource locator)…the web address, there was this phrase:

&sort=review-count-rank

I went to the main Kindle store listing, swapped out the sort at the end with that phrase…and it seems to have worked!

USA Kindle store books sorted by most reviewed (at AmazonSmile*)

Here are the most reviewed books in the USA Kindle store, based on that:

  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins…32,047
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins…32,047
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green…31,372
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James…26,937
  • Good Girl by Gillian Flynn…23,221

Certainly, those are bestsellers which have been part of the cultural discussion.

There are multiple things which drive the number of reviews. Here are a few…I don’t have statistics on this, this is just my guess:

  • I think more recent books tend to be reviewed more (people don’t usually go back and review a book they read a decade ago)
  • I suspect that young people tend to write more reviews than older people
  • Degree of emotional reaction to a book (pro or con)

Now, I know some people tend to reject things that are popular, but I think this may be one of the best ways to identify an…impactful book (on society).

I’m certainly going to try this again in other places!

Try it out in areas of your expertise, and imagine if someone had come up to you and asked to read some books so they could be part of the conversation…not necessarily the best books (those might be obscure), but just to understand what the “buzz” is.

I think this tends to work in part because the number of reviews will include other formats…so p-books affect this. That may also mean that indies (independently published books) are at a disadvantage on this, but they generally aren’t going to be those People Magazine books anyway (not yet, anyway).

I just tried it on some other searches, and it does seem to have worked.

Always love to find something sort of hidden like this and share it with you!🙂 I’m hoping they add it to the dropdowns generally so everybody can use it, but until then, enjoy!

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

10 Responses to “New search tip: sort by Most Reviews”

  1. Anne Says:

    I appreciate tips on sorting and searching, since it is a bit new to me. I couldn’t even find the October freebies for Prime users until I came back to your blog to find the link (oops your link in your later Oct post says Sept) to remember it is called First. But I notice the star system can’t be trusted. I would get a lot of romances if I relied on the stars, I noticed. And you mention religion books which I would want to read either.Plus overall my impressions are that books are too generously starred in general, if 5 is the max, I’d reserve that for ‘one of best I’ve ever read’ and I don’t think people do.

    But who knew that People magazine had book reviews? I’m flabbergasted, I just thought it was celebrity marriages and breakups and such. I guess my first thought if you think popular book would be NYT bestseller. But of course there will be plenty there that won’t appeal depending on your interests and tastes.

    I do read Entertainment Weekly and they review books (as well as movies, tv and music.) They are pretty good with other media, so I’d rely somewhat on the reviews until proven otherwise. I’ve only been going to the library and new books are not often there until later so I’ll have to see if I can look up old EW reviews now that I have a kindle and a limited budget.

    For a ‘real’ book, I’d look for Man Booker, National Book Award and Pulitzer lists.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Anne!

      Sorry if the text was wrong on the link: I copy and paste some things from previous articles (not significant content, but links and some context), and I must have done that in this case. The Kindle First books have always been in the same location on the website (so far), so the link should still work.

      As far as the ratings system goes, that it always a bit tricky. I worked in a place where we were rated by our students on a scale of 1 to 10. We were supposed to maintain an average of 9.3. Any system like that will present a temptation to manipulate the scores, and that did happen on occasion.

      As a manager, though, I was fine with people explaining what the scale meant. We would have students say that it was the best class, and that they couldn’t imagine anything better…and give a nine.🙂 They were reserving ten for perfect, which naturally wasn’t going to happen. Some of the trainers would explain it that it was like a grade in school: 91% was an A, 81% was a B, and so on. That seemed reasonable to me.

      Based on that, on a five point scale (if you expect an even distribution opportunity), 20% of the books should be given five stars. A quick check shows that only about 14.7% of the books are rated five stars (in an http://www.ereaderiq.com search…I think the “five stars” will really be 4.5 or 4.6 and up)…showing that five stars are lower than one might expect (again, if we expect them to be distributed evenly). I think many people sort of mush together 2, 3, and four, and reserve 5 for extraordinarily good and 1 for extraordinarily bad.

      I tend to think of it this way:

      5=loved it
      4=liked it
      3=it was okay (“meh”)
      2=disliked it
      1=hated it

      That’s sort of the internet scale.🙂 The Amazon owned site GoodReads skews the stars higher than the above, by doing this:

      5=it was amazing
      4=really liked it
      3=liked it
      2=it was okay
      1=did not like it

      Their “meh” is at 2, rather than 3…a three at GR indicates a better reaction than a 3 being “meh”. Of course, that may be because readers are more enthusiastic about the product generally than, say, people buying socket wrenches.😉

      People Magazine does all sorts of content reviews, and as a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I can tell you that it did have an impact. Customers would sometimes bring in the People magazine to ask for a book, or say they read about it there. People strives to be (in my opinion) solidly mainstream…they want to write about what they think is most in the public’s mind. They won’t write about Snowpiercer if they can write about Guardians of the Galaxy, and they won’t write about an obscure horror writer if they can write about Stephen King.

      Does People “make” a book? I think it may be that they enlarge an already big audience: they don’t want to be a place of obscure discovery, they want to be a recognizer and chronicler of existing trends.

      The New York Times positions itself as somewhat “high brow”. The NYT Books section prides itself on spotting things that the average person wouldn’t have seen, and to be seen as an arbiter of significance, not just a recorder of popularity. Again, just my opinion there.🙂

      I read EW every week. As with all reviews, I think the key is to become familiar with individual reviewers. That’s more likely to give you a good indicator of whether you will like a book (or other content). For example, if you know you always disagree with so-and-so, a bad review may be a strong recommendation.🙂

      I do expect Pulitzer books to be quality books…but I also look to genre awards (Edgar, Hugo, RITA) as worthy of consideration.

  2. Most reviewed Kindle Unlimited books by category | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] use “most reviewed” (which is a sort I apply myself…see New search tip: sort by Most Reviews for information about how I do it) because I find that tends to net me the most […]

  3. For Valentine’s Day: most reviewed books with “love” in the title | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] I don’t think I’ve ever used one of my own tips more than when I figured out how to get search results at Amazon to be ranked by most reviewed! […]

  4. Swapna Says:

    Thanks a lot for helping me with my kindle ! The url modification idea was brilliant🙂

  5. The Land of 10,000 Reviews | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] reviews at Amazon (I figured out and reported on a way to sort search results by most reviews here: New search tip: sort by Most Reviews), you’ll find that they don’t match up with […]

  6. jubunam Says:

    hey just a question, i looked at this and mockingjay only has 19k reviews, what is that all about?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, jubunam!

      Well, at that number it is (as I look right now), the tenth most reviewed book in the USA Kindle store…out of more than 4 million titles.

      Clearly, very few people who read a Kindle book write a review on Amazon.com.

      Why is that?

      Hm…that may be worth a post in itself; thanks for asking!

  7. Why don’t people write reviews of Kindle books? | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] New search tip: sort by Most Reviews […]

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