Amazon’s new review filters

Amazon’s new review filters

There has been lots of discussion about review at Amazon…people paying for reviews, “sock puppets” (where an author essentially tells other people what to say to get good reviews and comments), and so on.

I’ve written about the subject some here, and I was pleased when regular reader and commenter pointed out a recent change.

It might at first seem like the change that was noted might not be good, but Amazon is giving you a lot of options now…they just didn’t make it obvious that they did it, so it might…mislead you a bit if you thought it was still going to work the same way.

The change you might initially notice is that you click to read the reviews on a product page…and not enough reviews appear to be there.

That’s because the new default is to only show you “verified purchasers”. That clearly can cut down on “fake reviews”…if the account has to have purchased the item, it makes it harder to sock puppet accounts (and certainly, more expensive).

For example, let’s look at the recent John Grisham book

The Whistler (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They used to just show you the reviews, and you could pick most helpful or jump to critical or particular star ratings (I used to look at the one stars, for example, to see if I disagreed with the reasons).

Now, you get a lot more choices.

At time of writing, there were 1,312 customer reviews, with an average of 4.1 stars out of 5.

Top customer reviews show first…those are the ones voted most helpful, whether they are positive or negative. In this case, 118 voted for a 3 star review, then the next one was 53 people voting for a two star review.

On the other side of the page were the ten most recent reviews.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

There used to be a link that takes you to all of the reviews…now, it (and it is labeled this way) you first see verified purchaser reviews only.

Whoops, the numbers changed while I was writing this! So, there are 1,338 reviews now, and 1,211 of them are verified…that means not quite ten percent of them are not verified. There is a link right there to see all reviews if you want.

There is a sort option which defaults to Top, and you can choose to sort by most recent.

Then, there are three more controls:

  • Verified Purchasers or All Reviewers
  • 5 star only or 4 star only or 3 star only or 2 star only or 1 star only…or all critical or all positive
  • Finally, I could choose to see All Formats or just the Kindle format (I was on the Kindle format page)

That’s interesting! 1,211 reviews were available for all formats, and the Kindle format was 1,096…again, about 90.5 percent of them are Kindle. My guess is that’s largely a result of it being very easy to write Kindle reviews…they encourage you to do it every time you finish a Kindle book. If you read a hardback, you’d have to remember to go to Amazon and write the review.

This means that we could actually compare the different formats…so it may be possible to tell if the Kindle format is less well-received than the hardback. That used to happen sometimes, because it might have been less well-formatted. I think that’s less true now.

For example, 632 of the Kindle only reviews are 5 star out of 1,167 (all reviewers, not just verified). That’s 54%.

Switching over to the hardback format, 48 of the hardback only are 5 stars, out of 119…which is about 40%. That means a lot more Kindleers rated it 5 star than hardback readers.

Flipping to 1 star reviews, that’s 12 of the 119 for the hardback: about 10%. For the Kindle version, 48 out of 1,167, about 4%. Definitely seems like people like the Kindle version better. Now, does that mean it is better, or perhaps that Kindleers are less critical? Perhaps less expensive books are reviewed more highly, although the difference here is under $2.50 (worth noting that the Kindle book is under $15, and the hardback (after the discounts) isn’t.

Overall, I think this is a very good thing! It gives us more information, and more options…and I do thank Lady Galaxy for helping people go into it with eyes open!

What do you think? Do you like the new changes? Do you think you’ll use them? Feel free to tell me any readers by commenting on this post.

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* 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

7 Responses to “Amazon’s new review filters”

  1. Ann Von Hagel Says:

    By way of clarification; when you finish a book on a Kindle, you are prompted to rate it. That rating goes to both Amazon and GoodReads. But I don’t believe you can’t easily leave a review from the device, and, to my knowledge, I’ve never been prompted to do so.

    If you finish a book on a Fire, you’re prompted to rate AND review. Which makes sense since the Fire is essentially a tablet and has a fully featured browser and even the smaller ones have a somewhat usable keyboard.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Ann!

      That’s a valuable distinction. I think the numbers I was quoting were for ratings, not just for reviews. I should look into that more, though. I can say that I never see a separate number for ratings which is higher than that for reviews (at least on Amazon).

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I wonder what happens if I pay for a Kindle book to be given as a gift to a friend who also has a Kindle. Would that gift book count as a verified purchase to me, who paid for but did not read the book, or to the friend who read the book but didn’t purchase it?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I’ve asked Amazon for clarification on both your questions…haven’t heard back yet. I’ll let you know after I do.🙂

  3. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Another thought. What about those of us who borrow books through Prime or KU? Would our reviews be treated as non verified purchase readers?

  4. Ann Von Hagel Says:

    Lady Galaxy — my understanding is a book received as a gift is not a verified purchase to the recipient, nor one to the giver. And borrows through Prime/KOLL/KU are not ‘verified purchases’ either. Neither are books borrowed via your local library and Overdrive.

    Interestingly, if you ‘buy’ the book when the price is $0.00, that is a a verified ‘purchase’. But not if you receive it as a free giveaway from, say GoodReads.

    You might want to send feedback to Amazon regarding this — kindle-feedback@amazoncom. It’s been my experience that they do respond to customers.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Ann!

      I appreciate that! I’ve asked Amazon for clarification…I’ll share it after I get it.

      One thing they make clear is that if you are given a book for free or greatly discounted to encourage a review (such as one would do with sock puppets), you are not a verified purchaser.

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