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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Up the Amazon

Amazon's recent decision to purge thousands of customer book reviews from its site does seem a tad arbitrary and lacking in logic--especially when the company's only defense of its rationale was almost early Dylanesque: “We do not require people to have experienced the product in order to review.”

Speaking selfishly, although my book Everything Is an Afterthought only received four customer reviews on Amazon, I'd hate to lose them (especially the qualified one by my friend Jimmy Kanakis) or the scant comments they generated. They comment not only on the book as readers, but also as people who knew its subject.

Customer reviews are always suspect. Taste in works of art or entertainment is too personal, to quirky, to be left to a complete stranger. At their worst, these reviews smack of those usually uninformed woman- and man-on-the-street interviews that advertisers use to convince us that we should plunk down our hard-earned cash because normal folk like us did just that. At their best, however, customer reviews create a kind of dialogue that can inform the buyer. And for all that's wrong with the customer review system, it's better than Amazon deciding for us what we should buy.


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