Have you ever wondered about the people who review books and things on Amazon.com? Who exactly are these top-50, top-10, etc. reviewers? How do they determine who these people are?
I have occasionally reviewed books on Amazon, just for fun, but since I started this blog I haven't had the time. I just came across this article on Slate, called "The Murky Demimonde of Amazon's Top Reviewers" by Garth Risk Hallberg. It is fascinating! I can't say I ever thought much about the reviews on Amazon - I doubt they have a lot of influence on my reading habits, since I tend to use sources that are better known and trusted than anonymous reviewers, and ever since I heard about the Amazon review fiasco in Canada, I've taken them with a fistful of salt.
Hallberg writes: "...Amazon had been hailed as a harbinger of 'Web 2.0'—an ideal realm where user-generated consensus trumps the bankrupt pieties of experts. As I explored the murky understory of Amazon's reviewer rankings, however, I came to see the real Web 2.0 as a tangle of hidden agendas—one in which the disinterested amateur may be an endangered species."
He goes on to talk about how these top reviewers write an insane number of reviews. The "number 7" reviewer, for example, has reviewed 3,500 books, CDs, and movies on Amazon. And the "number 1" reviewer, Harriet Klausner, "has averaged 45 book reviews per week over the last five years—a pace that seems hard to credit, even from a professed speed-reader." Forty-five book reviews per week? If I can review three or four books in a given week here on my blog, I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. But 45 a week? That's just silly.