Do Reviews Really Influence Your Book Buying Decisions?

I wrote about book reviews yesterday, so why not today too?

No. They don’t influence mine one bit. Because typically I read a book and buy the next in the series without looking at anything on the product page besides the price. The price influences my decision much more often than the reviews do. Why? Cause I’m perfectly fine spending $7.99 on a book. I’m not always fine with spending $9.99 on a mass market paperback. What is that, like a 25 percent increase? No.

Quite honestly, are reviews really all that important. I think they’re more important when you’re someone like John Green and your books have thousands of reviews that largely say the same thing. But if you’re a nobody like me and your book has 23 reviews, then I think someone not buying the book because of the reviews is just making an excuse not to buy it. Which is fine, but I’ve never known someone who decides which books to buy based solely on the reviews.

And, reviews are completely irrelevant if you go to the bookstore without knowing which book you’re going to get. I mean, if you’re browsing away and you come across a book that catches your eye, are you really going to open the Amazon or Goodreads app on your phone just to check the reviews? You might. But I don’t think so.

To me, the importance of book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads is greatly exaggerated. Because I don’t think readers read them as much as we all like to think.

Do reviews really influence your book buying decisions?

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20 thoughts on “Do Reviews Really Influence Your Book Buying Decisions?

  1. That’s a really good question and I hope we get some answers.

    For me, well, I do take a glance at them but I can’t say I’ve ever let them unduly influence me. Now that I’m more ‘in tune’ with the industry as an actual writer and now reviewer myself, I’m getting to be less concerned about reviews. That seems pretty hypocritical, I suppose, but I know now that a lot of reviews are, er, fluffed up that I now tend to suspect any review that doesn’t come from a truly trusted source.

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  2. I rarely read reviews for books. If something in the bookstore catches my eye, I’ll look it up in my local library before deciding to buy.

    For me, the decision to buy a physical, honest-to-god book is decided by the question: Do I feel like carrying this around in moves between now and forever? This more than price or reviews is the deciding factor.

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  3. Reviews don’t influence my decision on buying books, seeing movies or eating at a restaurant. Now buying a car, well, you got to have your priorities straight. But I do agree with you, I check genre, covers, they gave have a good cover, and I read the synopsis on the back.

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  4. I’ve found that my opinion of books doesn’t usually jive with the masses on goodreads. So I don’t pay attention to it as I’m shopping. I think part of the excitement of buying a book is the uncertainty. When you’ve never read a book there’s all sorts of possibilities inside it’s pages. One of those possibilities is that you may not like it. I don’t want to ruin anything for myself by looking up reviews.

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  5. In my opinion, reviews are good for the author’s ego and not much beyond that. They actually don’t do much to influence a buying decision. What does more than anything for sales is knowing the author. My point is there are literally millions of books to choose from so, most importantly, isn’t it more logical to give potential readers something to search on that will aid in finding a book in the first place. How can you read a book that you can’t find, hummmm.

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  6. Well, since I discovered Goodreads, I won’t read a book without looking at the reviews, let alone buy one without consulting first. There’s just too much literature of varying calibres available and a series of reviews can help weed out the disappointing books.

    And the beauty of amateur reviewers is that they’re not paid to do it. There’s a real integrity to their reviews that let’s you know what kind of reader is reading the book. So not only are you hearing about the book, but you can discern what type of reader resonated with the book.

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  7. Reviews are actually influential to me, sometimes. I don’t care when I’m buying cheap used books, if I’m buying a classic, or if I’m buying something from an author I already like/a series I’m reading. And I agree with you that looking to the reviews on indie books is a waste of time, as half those reviews will be the author’s friends anyway.

    Nor do I depend on reviews to tell me whether a book is good or bad – that is subjective. Merely, I look to see if the reviews say, “hey, this book features *insert trait that Michelle likes/dislikes in books*” It’s more for me to learn some non-spoilery stuff about the book, as some summaries can be misleading, than to gauge its quality. Still, I do not buy books *solely* based on reviews. I don’t care how many people say The Goldfinch is awesome – its summary does not sound at all amusing to me, and I can’t see what would captivate me about it. A book still has to catch my interest FIRST.

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  8. I don’t even know people who bother to review a book, even one they really like. I usually end up reading something because someone I know and like has told me it is good. Second, if it’s by a favorite author, I might read it. Third, if it’s a subject I’m interested in, like travel or food or writing, I might try it.

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  9. I will look at reviews when I am going to buy the book. It doesn’t necessarily influence if I buy it or not, but I do like to see what others think of it. If there are a ton of negative reviews I will buy it anyways, just for the possibility of disagreeing with the majority. It’s in my nature to disagree with people, I like to challenge others opinions.

    Look back at it, I have never bought a book just because it had amazing reviews, nor have I decided not to buy a book because of bad reviews. I just like to see what others think, and call them idiots (to myself) when I disagree with their ignorant reviews.

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  10. Sometimes I like to skim through to get a sense of if everyone gave it a similar rating or if it seems to have polarized people into love it/ hate it camps. Then I’ll usually skim through a bad review or two to try and get a sense of why the reviewer objected- if it’s for an issue that would also bother me.

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  11. If I’m sceptical about a book and see a good review, I might pick it up even if I wasn’t planning to. But usually I read books based on previous knowledge, cover design and a quick look inside. I do find GoodReads really helpful for sharing opinions once I’ve read a book – sometimes other people can phrase what I’ve kind of picked up from a novel, but couldn’t really put my finger on.

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  12. Reviews are helpful if you’re unsure whether or not to buy a book. It’s another version of your friend going, “This is amazing! Try it!” If 25 people agree that Product A is amazing, you’re going to want to know why and if you’ll share that opinion.

    Reader feedback is important to for any budding author, so reviews are a quick and simple way to provide such details.

    That, and I’m pretty sure the amount of reviews that you get on Amazon affects how many times your book may pop up on someone’s radar. It was explained to me once…but I’ve forgotten since then. Or I could be wrong. What do I know? I’m just a writer. 🙂

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  13. Personally, I review books on my blog because I decided I wanted to think a little more about why I like or dislike a book, and I enjoy sharing that. However, I hardly ever read reviews. I enjoy reading well written, snarky reviews for books I don’t like, such as Twilight. Sometimes I read reviews of books I’ve never heard of, just because. But the only time I’ve been talked out of a book by a review is if I wasn’t sure about it already. If I happen to come across several bad reviews, I’ll just save myself the time. But mostly, I’ll decide what I want to read just based on the description of the book.

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  14. I guess the best way for me to answer this question is with a yes and no. If I am familiar with the author and like their books anyways, I am not going to be persuaded by reviews they receive on their books. With unknown and new authors, if their work really interests me, I will also not be persuaded by the reviews they received. However, if I am somewhat interested or curious about their work, but not solid on whether I should read it, I may look to the reviews. With reviews I will look at the overall opinion.

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  15. Pingback: I Don’t Have a Catchy Title for my November Recap | Write me a book, John!

  16. I do tend to read reviews and I guess they do influence my decision to some degree … but honestly I’ve no idea how much, and I realise there are many other factors involved – opionn of author’s previous books, subject matter, blurb etc; cover not so much. Sometimes I check out the ‘look inside the book’ feature on Amazon to see if the first page or two grab me.

    Even when I do read reviews, though, I don’t do so uncritically. Reviews vary greatly in usefulness and quality, e.g. suspicious five stars (“The greatest book ever!!!”) or irrelevant one stars (“My book arrived five months late and was covered in pond slime! Amazon suck!!!”). I usually take most notice of reviews between he two extremes, e.g. three stars, as they tend to be more thoughtful and balanced. The most useful reviews are the ones that say exactly why the reviewer liked or didn’t like the book, as that helps you decide whether that will apply to you or not.

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  17. I don’t even get free digital books for Kindle without checking the reviews! Libraries are great—Free books you DON’T have to keep + make permanent room for! Then you can judge it for yourself. If I’m going to pay hard cash for a physical book that will take up space, it had better be one I’ve already read + WANT to keep.

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