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Amazon's change to 'highly rated' book lists. Writers and readers beware.

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Offline Steve Robinson Reading
13 Jun 2012, 12:41 PM | Post: #1

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Amazon's change to 'highly rated' book lists. Writers and readers beware.

I noticed yesterday that one of my books, which was recently at the top of the crime, thriller and mystery category when sorted by average customer review, was suddenly near the bottom. I trawled through and found my book listed below every book that had a single 5-star review and so I asked Amazon if there was a problem. At the time I thought it was just my book. They came back and said that a book with 1 5-star review had a higher average rating than my book, which after 115 reviews has an average of 4.7. Yes it does, but what about the 92 5-star reviews readers have given my book? Do they count for nothing? I've gone back to them and asked that question and while I'm waiting I dug a little deeper.

At present, if a book's average rating drops below 4.8 it goes to the bottom of the pile behind every single book in that category with a single 5-star review. I'm flabbergasted at the logic behind that. This only affects Amazon UK. In the US they sort by both rating and number of reviews which is completely logical and works well.

This link will show you what I mean. It's the Police Procedural category sorted by average customer review.

http://www.amazon.co.uk...

Clearly Amazon have made a major blunder here. Scenario: you put a book out. someone gives it 5 stars and suddenly it's better than Crime and Punishment (not to mention all those other books). As a reader looking for a good read I want to know about these books that have been buried at the bottom of the pile. They have a lot of good reviews and 4.7 out of 5 for books with hundreds of reviews is a very good rating. As a writer of course, it can be very damaging to a book's visibility and sales.

I thought I should make this widely known because readers aren't getting a true picture and writer's who books are doing well are getting a very rough deal. Not to mention reviewers whose ratings no longer seem to count for much. Common sense tells me that they will see this for the gaff it is and change it soon, but I don't know. I've complained about it and maybe a few others should too. If you're a writer with a book that has an average of 4.8, drop 0.1 and it's a very quick ride to the bottom of the list.
Steve

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Offline LindaGruchy Reading The Chandelier Ballroom by Elizabeth Lord
13 Jun 2012, 01:04 PM | Post: #2

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RE: Amazon's change to 'highly rated' book lists. Writers and readers beware.

That is appalling. I've seen some single 5 star reviews of some terrible books, obviously written by friend or family. It also makes the author vulnerable to malicious 1 star reviews.
Offline TresaC Reading Submissions! A N Other
13 Jun 2012, 01:05 PM | Post: #3

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RE: Amazon's change to 'highly rated' book lists. Writers and readers beware.

Seems a crazy way of doing it. Looking at Crime and Punishment as an example, it has over 200 reviews in total, 143 of those are 5 star but the average is 4.4 so it goes below loads of books with only 1 5 star review.

As you say. let's hope they see it as a gaff and sort it soon.
Offline LindaGruchy Reading The Chandelier Ballroom by Elizabeth Lord
13 Jun 2012, 01:16 PM | Post: #4

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RE: Amazon's change to 'highly rated' book lists. Writers and readers beware.

How long has it been like this? DIFM has gained as it has 4 5star reviews, but DISW has lost out. I was thinking that DIFM was being bought by people who had enjoyed DISW and feeling rather pleased that people were buying my work. Now I'm not so sure.
Offline lyndawrites Reading The Twopenny-Hat Detective by Brian Sellars
13 Jun 2012, 01:31 PM | Post: #5

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RE: Amazon's change to 'highly rated' book lists. Writers and readers beware.

It get's sillier.

If you click on the drop down box (on the right of the screen) and select 'sort by: publication date', then at least half the books on the first page haven't even been published yet. Some of them have publication dates of ... 2036! Big Grin

It would help too, if Amazon implemented something that authors have long been asking for, viz: to be able to select the same categories when you upload for publication as actually appear in the Amazon store.
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Offline Lou Reading Ryria Series by Michael J Sullivan
13 Jun 2012, 02:36 PM | Post: #6

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RE: Amazon's change to 'highly rated' book lists. Writers and readers beware.

Hi Steve,

Oddly enough I've just been looking at ratings/reviews to build a ranking algorithm for the US free books site. It's quite a tricky one to quantify, however seeing as Amazon have much more data to work from (ie the individual reviews and rankings rather than the aggregated total) they should find it much easier.
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Offline Rosen Trevithick Reading
13 Jun 2012, 03:00 PM | Post: #7

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RE: Amazon's change to 'highly rated' book lists. Writers and readers beware.

That's statistically invalid.

They should apply mathematical tests to check for confidence and rank books by the probability that a book's quality matches 5 stars. This would take the number of reviews into consideration.
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Offline Lou Reading Ryria Series by Michael J Sullivan
13 Jun 2012, 03:04 PM | Post: #8

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RE: Amazon's change to 'highly rated' book lists. Writers and readers beware.

As someone who works a lot with Amazon's data, they definitely have some very strange issues. This no doubt arrives from the complexity of their stores and how they interact on a global basis. If you search free books at a certain time of day, you will see loads with prices next to them. They appear as free in the search before the actual prices are changed (almost like a premonition). If you check back later, the prices will have caught up.
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Offline Rosen Trevithick Reading
13 Jun 2012, 03:57 PM | Post: #9

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RE: Amazon's change to 'highly rated' book lists. Writers and readers beware.

I've got into a debate with mathematicians about the statistics behind this. Uh oh...
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Offline Steve Robinson Reading
13 Jun 2012, 04:09 PM | Post: #10

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RE: Amazon's change to 'highly rated' book lists. Writers and readers beware.

This post was last modified: 13 Jun 2012 04:10 PM by Steve Robinson.
The solution looks very simple to me. Just do what Amazon US are doing! Big Grin
Steve

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