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Negative Reviews That HELP Book Sales?

SOME of my latest purchases

As I have recently been on a somewhat obscene book buying spree, it occurs to me that some negative reviews might actually help book sales. When I’m browsing through them, I find I’m much more likely to buy a book if it has several negative reviews from people I don’t feel a ‘book identification’ with. Here is what I mean:

1. They can’t construct an even somewhat reasonable sentence.
2. They have slammed several books (although sometimes even just one other) that I LOVE.
3. They say, “I didn’t read past chapter one.”
4. They say, “Based on the blurb…”
5. They are complaining that “This book” is very different from the writer’s other works for which they are a loyal and dying fan (and I wasn’t a fan of that other body of work.)
6. (This is a big, big red flag for me!) They give one or two stars to classics that I hold in reverence and make comments such as, “boring, slow, unreadable, etc, etc…”  

Do negative reviews ever prompt instead of discourage your purchase?

7 Responses to Negative Reviews That HELP Book Sales?

  1. I wouldn’t say it’s ever prompted it, but it hasn’t discouraged it either. I’ve bought plenty of books that have gotten bad reviews.

  2. Jennine G. says:

    I know what you mean. The bad reviews that make me buy/read a book anyway are the ones where the reviewer is completely trashing the book as if he/she was the all knowing last word on the subject. I’m talking harsh reviews – I don’t see the need for such harshness. A simple “I don’t like this book because…” will do. So I guess it’s just my personality working against the haters more than anything.

  3. Fiona says:

    Great post, Rebecca! I have to admit being a little swayed by bad reviews before in a negative sense. However, I’ve also had the exact same experience of coming across bad reviews for books which I think are amazing, so I don’t think we should put too much weight on them! It’s all a matter of personal opinion at the end of the day.

    • Absolutely! And it’s not like I never agree with negative reviews…but the ones that are poorly written, don’t make sense, and sound like the person didn’t even read the book are a problem for me. I think it’s funny that when I read a negative review for a book I loved like a child, I actually have a swell of anger rise up and feel like getting all defensive–for the book! 🙂

  4. Jess says:

    I hadn’t really thought about it, but you’re right! If I saw a review that was poorly constructed and had bad grammar, I think it would make me intrigued, rather than turn me off. I’d probably pay it more attention than I would have if the review only held very generic cheerleading type of statements.


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