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leahzero
04-18-2010, 11:31 PM
This is probably miscategorized. Mods, please move! Thanks.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/apr/18/amazon-orlando-figes-books


"Historian", who it transpired also generated a profile on the Amazon website under the username "Orlando-Birkbeck", had not only rubbished Polonsky's book, but also other works going back years and including books by Oxford University's Robert Service, biographer of Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin. The book on Trotsky was a "dull read", that on Stalin "disappointing" and his history of communism derided as "rubbish" and "an awful book".

By contrast, Figes's 2008 work, The Whisperer, was, according to Historian, a "beautiful and necessary" account of the Soviet system, penned by a man possessed of "superb story-telling skills" with this eulogy ending with the fervent wish: "I hope he writes for ever."
This is becoming more and more of a problem. The credibility of online reviews is rapidly approaching nil.

When reviewing the work of an author with a large online fanbase, I've noticed that criticism of the author often results in stunning backlash. My reviews have been savaged, vicious ad hominem attacks left, and the rancor has even bled through to lunatics sending hateful email or comments on my personal site, etc.

The flip side to this is that there are many fake good reviews, posted by friends/family of authors, the authors themselves, marketing companies hired by the author, etc.

Amazon has a good idea with the "Verified Purchase" stamp next to reviews from consumers who actually purchased the product through Amazon. IMO, only these reviews should be allowed on Amazon. There are sites like Goodreads for aggregating book reviews without having an inextricable connection to the sale of a book.

I have been disappointed again and again by glowing Amazon reviews (and those from B&N and other booksellers, as well as blogs that receive ARCs, etc.), only to find that the work is not of the quality advertised. And then, when I post a critical review, it is of course buried, and personal attacks follow.

What a sorry state the online review scene is in.

When booksellers' sites are rife with fraud, bloggers are untrustworthy due to personal interest or compensation, and "professional" reviewers little better, where are we to turn for honest reviews to help guide purchasing decisions?

I'm not concerned so much by the actual monetary cost of a bad book, but rather the investment of my time, something that can never be compensated.

Sophia
04-19-2010, 12:45 AM
I'm ashamed to say that I actually read the reviews by "Historian" around 18 months ago (I recognize the quotes) and partially based my decision to buy The Whisperers over the other books upon them. They were convincing; to me, anyway (and the book was excellent). I agree that the "Verified Purchase" consumer reviews should be the only ones displayed on Amazon, although I can imagine ways of possibly getting around it (e.g. buying the book, and then returning it). I can't think of a more honest source of reviews, however, than people who have bought the book. If there was a way of grouping the reviewers in terms of other books they liked, so you could search for reviewers whose taste aligns with yours, that might be a good way to do it. I'm sorry to hear about the personal attacks!

Silver King
04-19-2010, 03:05 AM
This thread seems like it would be better suited for our friends in the Roundtable forum, so we'll move it there from Office Party.

Mr Flibble
04-19-2010, 03:09 AM
I made a thread about this in novels

Totally bloody bizarre, but it's 'car crash tv' I can't not watch :D

Silver King
04-19-2010, 03:20 AM
I made a thread about this in novels...
Had I seen your thread (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=177655) before making the move, it would have resulted in a nice, squishy merge with this one. :)

veinglory
04-19-2010, 03:24 AM
It seems to me that people know how to weight reviews based on their content and their origin. I don't see why a person can;t buy the book somewhere else or get it as a gift, but still post a review on amazon.

icerose
04-19-2010, 03:43 AM
I decide on a book how I've always decided. I look at the cover, I read the back or equivelant, and then I read the first page or so. If I'm hooked and can afford it, I buy it. If not, it goes back.

Jamesaritchie
04-19-2010, 03:55 AM
Anyone who pays attention to anything on Amazon deserves what they get. The whole review sytem on there has been a joke for years.

HisBoyElroy
04-19-2010, 04:01 AM
I have my own personal list of pet peeves that stop me from buying a book. So I look at 1- and 2-star reviews and see how many of them cite my peeves. The glowing reviews I ignore because 95% of them are totally bogus.

Chris P
04-19-2010, 04:04 AM
Why is anyone still surprised that not everyone on an open online forum is who they say they are?

In scholarly publishing, there is a movement to have peer review abandoned in favor of open comments. This type of thing is exactly what will happen, and will turn scientific publishing into a joke. Thanks for the link! It will come in very handy.

veinglory
04-19-2010, 04:08 AM
I had no idea such a thing was being considered. But to avoid it a few more people need to pick up the slack and act as reviewers. I am getting buried in requests.

leahzero
04-19-2010, 05:26 AM
It seems to me that people know how to weight reviews based on their content and their origin. I don't see why a person can;t buy the book somewhere else or get it as a gift, but still post a review on amazon.

Content, sure. When a review is too light on detail and reads like a book jacket blurb, I ignore it. But what is the "origin" of a review?

And despite content, it is not always possible to distinguish a real review from a fake. Have you never bought a highly-rated book from an online bookseller, only to find out it was terrible?

Why only allow purchasers to post reviews on Amazon? Because Amazon uses the reviews to sell books.


Anyone who pays attention to anything on Amazon deserves what they get. The whole review sytem on there has been a joke for years.

I don't agree with most of your posts, but this one is just needless. Why did you even post in this thread? To show us how far above it all you are?

You're wrong, anyway. There are still legitimate, thoughtful, intellectually provocative reviews posted on Amazon, and on other bookseller sites. It's just that fraud is creeping in at an alarming rate.

I'm not talking about Amazon reviews as some infallible, objective measure of quality. I'm talking about them in their capacity to sell books to readers. Fake reviews are essentially false advertising. There are laws in the US and many other countries against making deliberately misleading claims to sell products. Books, as objets d'art, are exempt from this standard. But why? Why even permit reviews on works of art at all? Clearly the reviews are being used to make buying decisions. Some degree of commodification of art is occurring here, and thus standards of commerce should be established and followed.

The article I posted is an extreme example of how fraudulent reviews can actually approach libel. Yet Amazon turns a blind eye until lawyers contact them. This could be throttled significantly with stricter reviewing requirements.

Silver King
04-19-2010, 06:00 AM
I wouldn't be surprised to learn when the dust settles that the author may have known what his wife was up to regarding the bogus reviews. He might have even put her up to it for all we know.

Doesn't matter either anyway, as both their reputations have been tarnished by this affair, and the two of them will suffer together.

BenPanced
04-19-2010, 06:32 AM
People don't pay attention to/care about reviews when they decide which movie they're going to see tomorrow night, which DVD they're going to buy the night after, or which TV show they're going to watch tonight. They certainly aren't going to let a review influence which book they're going to read next week or which Broadway show they're going to see next month. In fact, they make a big deal over how stupid they think reviewers and critics truly are; go take a look at Rotten Tomatoes as another example.

ishtar'sgate
04-19-2010, 06:43 AM
I decide on a book how I've always decided. I look at the cover, I read the back or equivelant, and then I read the first page or so. If I'm hooked and can afford it, I buy it. If not, it goes back.
Me too and with the ability to look inside the book on Amazon I can decide if it's for me or not. I read the reviews more to get an idea of the content than of the reviewers likes and dislikes.

Horseshoes
04-19-2010, 07:20 AM
I just read that article and was just coming to start a thread on it. It's interesting and I'm glad it's posted. The public, non-professional review thing is worth considering. I like it and want it to continue and I'll admit to being influenced by anonymous strangers' thoughts on a book, but I've no way of knowing if those people are being honest or even if their tastes are meaningful to me.

I've read numerous reviews that rubbed me the wrong way, sometimes because they were ridiculously positive and some that were patently mean-spirited and from a frustrated wannabe to boot.
FWIW, I don't post many reviews but never do when I would give a negative review. I feel kinda cheesy about that...but it's not that I wouldn't express a negative opinion of a book if any one asked me directly. I just can't bring myself to write a permanent open letter telling why I think the writing was sloppy or the character cardboard or the plot contrived or whatever. I see no good purpose in my doing such a thing, so I don't do it.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
04-19-2010, 07:46 AM
Reviews only tell me someone else enjoyed the book. Doesn't mean I will, so I generally ignore them. Book blurbs and such are often a greater indication of whether I'll enjoy the book.

gothicangel
04-19-2010, 10:51 AM
I agree with James.

Authors have been getting friends and family to post bogus reviews on Amazon for as long as Amazon have been around.

Then there are the idiotic reviews on Dan Brown's latest: 'I'm giving this book five stars to balance out the one star ratings even though the book hasn't been published yet.'

Amazon reviews contain more spin than a Westminster Cabinet. :D

aruna
04-19-2010, 11:31 AM
I can't think of a more honest source of reviews, however, than people who have bought the book. If there was a way of grouping the reviewers in terms of other books they liked, so you could search for reviewers whose taste aligns with yours, that might be a good way to do it. I'm sorry to hear about the personal attacks!


Anyone who pays attention to anything on Amazon deserves what they get. The whole review sytem on there has been a joke for years.

Actually, alongside the "free-for-all", Amazon has an excellent reviewer quality ranking in place (http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers). I know, because I used to interact with these reviewers years ago, before I came to AW. They are serious reviewers who really care about writing good, unbiased reviews. You can identify them by the reviewer ranking behind their name; for instance, top 10 reviewer, or top 50 reviewer. The ranking is determined by the amount of helpful votes they get from customers. Of course, even the voting system is corrupt, with people giving negative votes just because the book was by their best friend or daughter, but still, in the end we do get a fairly fair ranking.
Some of these top reviewers were my virtual friends, as close as many AWers, and yes, some of them reviewed my books. IMO Amazon should prmote them more, and customers should be made more aware of the system, in order to properly weigh a review. It would help us to get honest and unbiased views; we could determine our favourite reviewers, those who have similar reading tastes to us, and so on.

ImogenAnn
04-19-2010, 11:51 AM
I am going to be as honest as I can here. So please be nice.

I've got quite a few reviews on amazon for my book (on the .uk site anyway, the book doesn't come out it the US till next year). Lots of them are thoughtful and well-written, and I appreciate people taking the time to comment. Also lots of them make good critical points that I will bear in mind in the future.

On spin: When I'm buying from amazon, I often look at reviews. They aren't my first and only guide, but they do have an influence, so I recognise their importance for me. When someone comes up to me and says they really love the book I have found myself saying (with a smile, not mad-eyed), 'Thank you very much! Please feel free to tell everyone you know and write it up on amazon too!'
Is that wrong? It does mean two of the 28 reviews up there are from people I know.

On the negative side, I was gutted when I got a one star review, and had to restrain my boyfriend from posting a 5-star review, to balance it, or hassling our friends, the ones who have said how much they like the book anyway, to review too.
It's tough. I couldn't help being upset, I'm only human. He couldn't help wanting to defend me. It may be rubbish but when someone really dislikes the book and says so in public like that, it is like getting slapped in the face. Takes a lot of deep breathing and repeating to myself that you can't please everyone to get over it. A friend also sent me an article from Salon (http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2010/04/02/mean_amazon_reviews_open2010) about classic books with one-star reviews. That made me feel better. So I licked my wounds and got on with the day.

At least one review though contained multiple spoilers. That bothered me.

I guess what I'm saying boils down to this.
Figes wife seemed to be vindictive and stupid. However much it would be done out of love for me, if Ned pulled anything like this I would throttle him, but I can understand the impulse.
We're only human and it's hard not to care, deeply, about what people are saying about your work on a public forum. That said, I know we just have to take it and only whine to a limited and trusted circle of mates.
Amazon reviews are a very dodgy system and easy to abuse. But what would the alternative be? Only newspaper reviewers are allowed to have the right to an opinion? What if you bought the book from another outlet, but still want to review on amazon?

seun
04-19-2010, 03:45 PM
The fake reviews on Amazon are pretty easy to spot. The reviewers who give a really over the top (positive or negative) review on a product and are never seen again, those who do the same constantly for an author, those who give really brief 5 star or 1 star reviews...all giveaways.

brainstorm77
04-19-2010, 03:47 PM
I don't put much faith either way in Amazon reviews.

shaldna
04-19-2010, 03:52 PM
Amazon reviews are great entertainment.

Remember Anne Rice's breakdown on Amazon?

brainstorm77
04-19-2010, 03:57 PM
Amazon reviews are great entertainment.

Remember Anne Rice's breakdown on Amazon?

Didn't that all get deleted? I never did get a chance to read it.

thehairymob
04-19-2010, 06:48 PM
Still reviews do help us decide if we wish to buy or not. Not just book either. We wouldn't buy an album if everyone was saying it was worse than the cats choir, especially our friends. In the end it really comes down to looking at the overall impression of the comments attached to the product that makes up my mind if it is any good. One bad review on its own against two or three good ones would have less weight to me.

The Grump
04-19-2010, 07:56 PM
I hardly look at Amazon. I tend to give my business to the local bookstores. (Yes, we have more than one independent in town.) ... When I go looking, I go to B&N where I look at the professional reviews more than the reader ones.

rugcat
04-19-2010, 11:31 PM
The king of gaming Amazon reviews is surely Robert Stanek (http://www.amazon.com/Keeper-Martins-Ultimate-Robert-Stanek/dp/1575455153/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271703668&sr=1-1)

Keeper Martin's Tale, published by Reagent Press (http://www.reagentpress.com/)has over 200 five star reviews -- most of which sound like the "reviewer" wishes there were more stars to give:


This must be the best book ever. I've always loved fantasy fiction but this has went far beyond anything else. Robert Stanek is the best Fantasy author of all time.

Others, on various blogs, have termed the book "abysmal."

David Louis Edelman wrote a blog post (http://www.davidlouisedelman.com/book-promotion/ethical-self-promotion/)a few years back about ethics in self promotion that cited Stanek, as have many others since then.

Soccer Mom
04-20-2010, 12:34 AM
Oh yes! No discussion of fake reviews is complete with Robert Stanek. If you have twenty minutes to kill, you must enjoy this breakdown of his antics (http://conjugalfelicity.wikispaces.com/robertstanek).

aruna
04-20-2010, 11:41 AM
Some reviews really are good, especially the ones I agree with completely but am too lazy to write one myself! Seriously, though, I like reading Amazon reviews and some of them are very good. As Seun says, it's easy to spot the bogus ones. I put more trust in normal readers than in the professional ones in the Guardian etc.

trocadero
04-20-2010, 12:00 PM
The king of gaming Amazon reviews is surely Robert Stanek (http://www.amazon.com/Keeper-Martins-Ultimate-Robert-Stanek/dp/1575455153/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271703668&sr=1-1)

Keeper Martin's Tale, published by Reagent Press (http://www.reagentpress.com/)has over 200 five star reviews -- most of which sound like the "reviewer" wishes there were more stars to give:



Others, on various blogs, have termed the book "abysmal."

David Louis Edelman wrote a blog post (http://www.davidlouisedelman.com/book-promotion/ethical-self-promotion/)a few years back about ethics in self promotion that cited Stanek, as have many others since then.

I just went and read a dozen or so reviews of Stanek's books, and they sound so terrible I'm tempted to buy one. Or at least see if we have any in the school library. Can they really have bad grammar, spelling and sentence construction? I want to see one!

NeuroFizz
04-20-2010, 03:55 PM
In scholarly publishing, there is a movement to have peer review abandoned in favor of open comments. This type of thing is exactly what will happen, and will turn scientific publishing into a joke. Thanks for the link! It will come in very handy.
Fortunately, there has been nothing of this in the specialized or general science journals I'm familiar with (which spans a wide swatch of disciplines)--either in rumor, proposals, or action of any kind. If a journal moved in this direction, serious scientists would avoid it like the plague, it's citation numbers and impact factor would go in the toilet, and it would have a tough go of it. One journal did avoid peer review back in the 1970s, and it was generally considered a "don't publish there" type of journal. It went back to peer review in the 80s or 90s and it has taken a couple of editors and all of these years to establish enough citation strength to garner an impact factor. Despite that, the impact factor is still one of the lowest around for the appropriate areas covered by the journal, and most good researchers still avoid the journal.

Impact factors are overrated in terms of absolute evaluation of a journal's quality, but they are indicators of citation strength and acceptance selectivity (among other things). Many academic units use impact factors to judge journal quality in evaluating a researcher's productivity, however. It's brought up in hiring decisions, promotion and tenure decisions, and annual evaluations (when merit-based raise money is available, which hasn't happened for a couple of years).

kaitie
04-20-2010, 04:12 PM
I don't have time to read this whole thread, but I just wanted to say that it'd be awesome if we could teach people how to argue legitimately again. It would avoid things like vicious attacks on people who dare speak out against something the fans love.

I think this is a huge problem, btw. I'd like to see real name reviews only, and some way to confirm that you actually purchased the product. This reminds me of people with small publishers (or self-publishers) who go and write reviews of one another's works in such generic terms as to be meaningless and give it five stars.

Momento Mori
04-20-2010, 05:40 PM
Leah Raeder:
Amazon has a good idea with the "Verified Purchase" stamp next to reviews from consumers who actually purchased the product through Amazon. IMO, only these reviews should be allowed on Amazon. There are sites like Goodreads for aggregating book reviews without having an inextricable connection to the sale of a book.

I disagree with this (although I understand your reasoning). I've been posting reviews on Amazon UK for about 3 years now (and am listed as a top 500 reviewer) but many of the books I've reviewed have not been bought from the site (although I do get free books for review via the Vine programme). The reason I post reviews there is because you get instant feedback on the reviews via the helpful/not helpful vote and sometimes people post interesting comments saying why they agree or disagree and also because it might help people to make a decision on whether to buy the book or not. I also post reviews to a number of communities on LJ for the same reasons.

I would not have a problem with "verified purchase stamps" appearing next to reviews made by people who have bought through Amazon, but I don't think there should be an assumption that people who post Amazon reviews (whether favourable or unfavourable) are shills or flamers (as the case may be). Some of us - like you - actually do take the time to write a reasoned review with for a reasoned rating. :)


Leah Raeder:
I have been disappointed again and again by glowing Amazon reviews (and those from B&N and other booksellers, as well as blogs that receive ARCs, etc.), only to find that the work is not of the quality advertised. And then, when I post a critical review, it is of course buried, and personal attacks follow.

I've had situations where my review has been the only negative review for a popular book (or in a minority of negative reviews for a popular book) so I understand the frustration. The personal attacks I usually report for abuse (including the nutter who followed the link to my review LJ because I said why I didn't enjoy Twilight and decided to post a series of highly offensive comments, which saw me ban his/her ISP). The rest I try and shrug off as best I can.

If I'm looking at buying a book on Amazon and it's only got 5* reviews, then I usually check out the profile of the reviewers. If their only review is that book, then I'll give it a miss.

Sometimes I've been caught out by a book that's had good reviews and yet I've found it to be a stinker. Again, I usually shrug this off as being down to experience and will put up my own review on the same.

When we're talking about reviews we're talking about opinions and there's no concrete way of making sure in advance that your opinion will tally with that of the reviewer's.

Amazon has taken some steps to improve the reliability of its reviewers by changing the way review rankings are calculated. The intention is to stop review stacking (whereby people deliberately set up false accounts to vote down certain reviews as being unhelpful). I don't know how helpful that will be in the long run though.

MM

dgiharris
04-21-2010, 12:48 AM
Oh yes! No discussion of fake reviews is complete with Robert Stanek. If you have twenty minutes to kill, you must enjoy this breakdown of his antics (http://conjugalfelicity.wikispaces.com/robertstanek).

That was eye opening.

In general, I am influenced by reviews. But i've become adept at distinguishing real reviews from fake or 'friend' reviews.

Biggest tell is to just look up the history of a reviewer and then trace it back to a book you've both read. I've found this to be the best indicator of the truthfulness and integrity of the reviewer.

And of course, when the reviewer only has 2 or 3 reviews then it is easier to just discount them.

Also, when there is a huge polarization of reviews, like 20 five stars and 30 1-stars, something is not right.

Mel...

timewaster
04-21-2010, 01:39 AM
[QUOTE=dgiharris;4877742]That was eye opening.

Also, when there is a huge polarization of reviews, like 20 five stars and 30 1-stars, something is not right.

I think polarisation is a good sign; most of the books I love fall into that category.

wrangler
04-21-2010, 02:33 AM
Mostly I'll have a glance at the reviews, nothing more.

Besides the moral issues involved, I don't see what was so terrible about what was being done.

Stormhawk
04-21-2010, 03:12 AM
Didn't that all get deleted? I never did get a chance to read it.

Well...when I was first exposed to it, I posted it here, for the enjoyment of all.

So, here, have a read. :) Linky! (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=81276)

dgiharris
04-21-2010, 08:07 AM
Mostly I'll have a glance at the reviews, nothing more.

Besides the moral issues involved, I don't see what was so terrible about what was being done.

It's the moral issue of lying and misrepresenting a product/service that is the problem.

Its also something that can have a direct impact on ANY consumer. And since i'm a consumer, I have a serious problem with misrepresentation. Doesn't matter if it is a surgical procedure, a new technology, or a book review. Misrepresenting a product or service is a sin in a capitalistic society and is a big deal.

Mel...

friendlyhobo
04-22-2010, 11:39 AM
I have my own personal list of pet peeves that stop me from buying a book. So I look at 1- and 2-star reviews and see how many of them cite my peeves. The glowing reviews I ignore because 95% of them are totally bogus.

That is also EXACTLY what I do.
And, sort of off topic-ly, as a masochistic game, I will go find books or movies that dearly dearly love, and then read the one star reviews. Apparently I like to be angry (fun angry?).

Priene
04-24-2010, 01:04 PM
Well, now it turns out (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/apr/23/historian-orlando-figes-amazon-reviews-rivals) Orlando Figes himself posted the Amazon reviews.

Sophia
04-24-2010, 01:27 PM
Well, now it turns out (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/apr/23/historian-orlando-figes-amazon-reviews-rivals) Orlando Figes himself posted the Amazon reviews.

What a crazy thing to do. Why would he do it? I thought The Whisperers was a brilliant book; there was no need to post negative reviews of rivals' work and promote himself, as the book spoke for itself. I wonder how he must have been feeling to risk his job, reputation and possibly marriage like that.

Mr Flibble
04-24-2010, 01:28 PM
Well, now it turns out (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/apr/23/historian-orlando-figes-amazon-reviews-rivals) Orlando Figes himself posted the Amazon reviews.


Oops. Busted. So all those legal threats were just bluster? Hahahahahaha *snort* hahahahahaha.

*Snort* *snicker* Oh dear. One feels his reputation will have a job recovering from that one. ETA: If I was his wife, I'd have given him such a clip round the ear for trying to blame me.

trocadero
04-24-2010, 01:31 PM
I would expect a more highly developed sense of ethics from someone with the profile below at Blackstone Chambers. I hope there are professional consequences for her.

Current Position:
University Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge.
Assistant Director of the Centre for Public Law, Cambridge.
Fellow and Director of Legal Studies, Girton College, Cambridge.
Stephanie Palmer teaches a range of courses in public law and human rights to undergraduates and postgraduates at the University of Cambridge. She is an Editor (developments section) of the leading comparative constitutional law periodical, International Journal of Constitutional Law (I*CON) based in New York and published by Oxford University Press, and a member of the editorial board of the European Human Rights Law Review.

aruna
04-24-2010, 01:32 PM
Not just crazy; downright stupid and childish.

aruna
04-24-2010, 01:33 PM
feels his reputation will have a job recovering from that one. ETA: If I was his wife, I'd have given him such a clip round the ear for trying to blame me.

Possibly she was complicit in the accusation in order to save his face. IN the article it sounds like that.

Mr Flibble
04-24-2010, 01:41 PM
Oh I expect she knew. But I'd still be very unhappy at MY reputation being impugned to save his. I bet he's doing his own laundry now :D

Priene
04-24-2010, 03:07 PM
If he'd carried out his legal threats, he could have ended up in prison. As Jeffrey Archer and Jonathan Aitken found out, our legal system doesn't have much sympathy for mendacious litigants.

Momento Mori
04-24-2010, 05:05 PM
Wow. Orlando Figes is clearly a very classy guy.[/sarcasm]

From the story I read, apparenty his wife agreed to say that it was she who posted the reviews, so I don't have any sympathy for her either. Anyone with an ounce of self-respect should have told him in which orifice he should insert the suggestion and offered to stick it in there for him instead.

MM

aruna
04-24-2010, 05:56 PM
It#s the kind of thing you expect from PA authors or newbie first-time published authors who are not selling well. But from a respected historian... it just beggars belief.

trocadero
04-24-2010, 07:05 PM
Well, now it turns out (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/apr/23/historian-orlando-figes-amazon-reviews-rivals) Orlando Figes himself posted the Amazon reviews.

If she lied, I think it's worse than her posting the malicious reviews. Why would she risk her career? It's hard to tell what really happened, though. Figes' first story was odd, and this one is no less odd. Who knows what really happened in the Figes house? Either way, they both look like ninnies, although she might garner some sympathy for damaging her career to save her husband's.

I suspect they will somehow use this notoriety to their advantage. Perhaps they'll write a book about it. Who will write the reviews?

jana13k
04-24-2010, 08:43 PM
Leah - so what constitutes a "legitimate" review? It's still just one person's opinion. Unless they like reading the same thing you do, it does you no good.

I don't even read reviews of my own books and I have so little time to read that I can easily fill by TBR stack with recommendations from friends who know what I like to read. But then, I'm not a good follower and I tend to like every movie the critics hate, so I see no benefit to reading others opinions on books, either.

PEBKAC
04-25-2010, 10:47 AM
That is also EXACTLY what I do.
And, sort of off topic-ly, as a masochistic game, I will go find books or movies that dearly dearly love, and then read the one star reviews. Apparently I like to be angry (fun angry?).


I do the same thing (reading through the 1 and 2 star reviews) to see what the complaints are. I use Amazon reviews all the time and I'm very seldom disappointed with my purchases.

aruna
04-25-2010, 11:11 AM
An article in the Mail on Sunday (sorry!) by Rachel Polonsky, telling the whole story of how they outed him.


Last week, The Mail on Sunday exposed an extraordinary row that has rocked the usually impeccably-mannered world of academia.

And on Friday, Professor Orlando Figes, one of Britain’s most eminent historians, confessed to posting savage reviews of rivals’ books on the Amazon website.

It was a humiliating climbdown – when he was first accused of writing the anonymous reviews, Professor Figes, an expert in Russian history, first enlisted lawyers to deny it, then blamed his barrister wife.

The respected scholar now claims his actions – which sparked near-warfare among academics – were symptoms of the ‘very deep depression’ he has endured since working on a book about the victims of Stalin.

One of Professor Figes’ victims was writer Rachel Polonsky, whose work he dismissed as ‘the sort of book that makes you wonder why it was ever written’.

Here, she explains how some basic detective work uncovered Figes’ secret, the lengths he went to to keep it, and why she believes that mental illness is no excuse.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1268660/How-I-rumbled-lying-professor-The-story-discredited-don-rubbished-rivals-Amazon--left-wife-blame.html#ixzz0m5t5SUJh

dgiharris
04-25-2010, 05:26 PM
I would expect a more highly developed sense of ethics from someone with the profile below at Blackstone Chambers. I hope there are professional consequences for her.

Current Position:
University Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge.
Assistant Director of the Centre for Public Law, Cambridge.
Fellow and Director of Legal Studies, Girton College, Cambridge.
Stephanie Palmer teaches a range of courses in public law and human rights to undergraduates and postgraduates at the University of Cambridge. She is an Editor (developments section) of the leading comparative constitutional law periodical, International Journal of Constitutional Law (I*CON) based in New York and published by Oxford University Press, and a member of the editorial board of the European Human Rights Law Review.


It#s the kind of thing you expect from PA authors or newbie first-time published authors who are not selling well. But from a respected historian... it just beggars belief.

Actually, i'm not all that surprised.

How could someone do this you may ask???

Ego.

There are very few creatures on the planet that have egos the size of 'certain' ivory tower Academics.

I've seen 60 year old men fight and bicker as if they were five year olds.

One of my favorite experiences regarding ego was two Academics working on a government project (new technology). They put a $40M project at risk because they refused to be in the same room with each other (they were rivals in the same technical field) which was problematic to say the least since they were both needed for the research.

The entire project slipped a year becuase of them and their childishness.

So, i'm not even the least bit surprised that one Academic would stoop to something like this. In his mind, he was completely 100% justified.

Mel...

Momento Mori
04-25-2010, 05:27 PM
aruna - there was also a profile piece on Orlando Figes in the Sunday Times today.

What makes me sick about the MoS article is how Fides (who is now claiming depression - which is such a crock of shit in itself) didn't have any problem with threatening libel against the people who uncovered his petty, vindictive and pathetic behaviour.

Given his complete lack of ethics, Birkbeck College should be carrying out an investigation into whether he has brought the institution into disrepute and by all rights, publishers should be wary of publishing his next work. Sadly though, I suspect that he'll find himself getting bigger advances because of the notoriety that his own asshattery has brought him.

MM

Marian Perera
04-25-2010, 05:50 PM
So he blamed his wife for something he did? What a piece of work.

As for the depression, that reminds me of the owner of micropress Capri Publishing claiming to be depressed when she took on far too many manuscripts and then couldn't deliver.

Horseshoes
07-17-2010, 08:01 PM
Damages!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-10670407

Phaeal
07-19-2010, 05:28 PM
I discount reviews that are frothing either with praise or condemnation, as these tend to be powered by ulterior motives.

Reviews that cite plenty of details, which provide both praise and criticism, and which avoid the emo get my attention.

shaldna
07-19-2010, 07:02 PM
I discount reviews that are frothing either with praise or condemnation, as these tend to be powered by ulterior motives.

Reviews that cite plenty of details, which provide both praise and criticism, and which avoid the emo get my attention.


I totally agree. I want reviews that indicate the person actually read the book.

Libbie
07-19-2010, 07:55 PM
That...and I've personally learned that I tend to favor the books that have a three-star average on Amazon. People either love it or hate it, because it's different enough that it won't sit well with some readers and it will make other readers go nuts.

So one-star reviews won't necessarily put readers off from buying a book. It depends on why readers gave the book(s) poor ratings.

Eddyz Aquila
07-20-2010, 12:18 AM
Wow. Just wow.

Orlando Figes is a well known and respected author on Russian history, and I used his books for my own essays. But this, to discredit your fellow authors, is honestly, low. He just ruined his entire reputation.

IceCreamEmpress
07-20-2010, 01:00 AM
Can a mod change the title of this thread? Because it wasn't Figes' wife, it was he himself (for which he blamed his wife, ew).

Terie
07-20-2010, 01:06 AM
Can a mod change the title of this thread? Because it wasn't Figes' wife, it was he himself (for which he blamed his wife, ew).

I second this request. :)

M.R.J. Le Blanc
07-20-2010, 01:15 AM
What a nice husband, eh? Trash others then blame the wife. He damned near ruined her reptuation!

CaoPaux
07-20-2010, 01:25 AM
Oh, sure, make us work now, will you. :tongue