Title Fight: Goodreads vs Amazon

Authors love Amazon, more than not. That’s where the money is. But Goodreads also has links for acquiring books with Kindle and Amazon buttons on each book’s page. I prefer Goodreads, for both writing reviews and reading reviews.

Obviously, I post more reviews to my blog than to Goodreads, since I also cover short stories and novellas that don’t always have separate listings. But when I can, I’ll also post to Goodreads and include Goodreads’ link to the book in my blog post. I like that Goodreads and my blog allow for formatting that the Amazon site does not. Maybe they like the no-frills review without special attention to block quotes, but it drives me crazy.

Maybe I’m the only one . . .

When an author submits a book for review to me, and specifically asks that I post to Amazon, I comply–begrudgingly. For all the money they make, Amazon should allow for better user formatting. In my humble opinion.

Do you use Amazon or Goodreads or both? And how? I’m most curious.

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1s & 5s: Rating and Reviewing

When my younger brother was very young, he would go through the JCPenney’s 2-inch thick Winter Catalogue and circle every toy in the toy section in response to Mom asking us to create a wish list. Every toy. Not a very discerning child. I would mark the few things I really wanted.

I think of this when I see that someone rates every book they read as 4 or 5 stars. Pure grade inflation. What if the newspaper did that for movie reviews? Likely, I’d stop reading the reviews if they thought every movie was amazing. For the Chicago Trib and its 0-4 star scale, 2 is a good movie. 3 is better than good. 4 will likely earn an Oscar though most of the nominees probably fell in the 2.5-3.5 range. 4 means something for them. And me.

I use the Goodreads 1-5 star scale. “3 stars” has the hypertext “I liked it.” That should be the solid like. 4 is “I really liked it.” Self-explanatory. 5 is “I found it amazing.” This should be rare. But some people use it like my brother used the JCPenney Catalogue.

At the convention this past weekend, I was talking to an independent author who boasted of her “first troll.” She clarified that she meant her first 1-star rating. [Not usually something to boast of.] But she felt it was a rite of passage. Goodreads’ 1-star says “I didn’t like it.” I replied tactfully, “Not all 1-star raters are trolls. Perhaps they didn’t like it.” The author countered, “If I don’t like something, I give it 3 stars.” How does that help anyone??

I think raters should give at least a partial review to explain anything other than a 3, but really always. Otherwise, the rating can’t be contextualized.

I also think people who stop reading something without finishing it should be blocked from rating it. They should not be able to give a 1-star for an unfinished book. Maybe there needs to be separate stat for not finishing a book with a multiple choice explanation section. This, too, could be telling.

As much as I want to make an informed decision about what I am buying, acquiring etc. I also want an informed view of the reviewer-rater. Differences in our perspectives could be more telling than the review itself.

Readers, Reviewers and Spoilers

You’ve seen it: the *SPOILER ALERT,* whether in a book review or movie review or television show recap. Seriously, one should not be reading re-caps and commentary on their shows if one is worried about spoilers. But, nevertheless the spoiler-averse culture has emerged. If you missed a season-finale, you need to avoid Facebook until you’ve caught up for such shows as Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Orphan Black . . .

I’ve a confession, I don’t care about spoilers. I don’t. But many do, so I avoid printing them inadvertently. I don’t even put up warning, I just don’t write the spoiler. But it vexes me, as I studied literature and merit how a story is told, over the what. With movies, and shows, I care how the scene is shot and the written material honored. If the worth of the story is in the surprise, what is the re-watch-ability? Why re-read anything?

Romeo’s gonna die. Done, I said it. Spoiled it, I guess. And only centuries after it was written. There has to be a time-limit to a spoiler, in my opinion. If you missed the end of Six Feet Under or The Sopranos, I’m sorry but you cannot chastise anyone for spoiling it for you. There is a statute of limitations.

At some point in the last year, I went from being largely a reviewer of already published material to a pre-viewer of material before it becomes widely published. This makes the spoiler issue all the more important. The last ARC I reviewed, Alive, came with a warning to not spoil ANYTHING. Fair enough. So, I played the game and didn’t write any. Concurrently, I dig for as much critical analysis as possible. I want to be spoiled, so that I can watch the clues emerge. I don’t want to re-watch or re-read anything for complete understanding. But that’s MHO.

Where do you sit on the spoiler issue? Do you avoid reading them? Writing them? Do you warn people?

And what is a proper statute of limitations for a spoiler? Can we at least agree that there needs to be one? Because in the end, Juliet dies too–OOPS.