I saw this article today in the New York Times about this guy who set up a business doing paid book reviews for a fee and I thought I’d talk about it. I thought it was quite fitting considering I have just done my first book review on Rude Retro: The Google Story book review.
On the one hand, I am impressed by this guy’s initiative. Todd Jason Rutherford saw a gap in the market and quickly proceeded to fill it. See the details in this excerpt from the New York Times article.
In the fall of 2010, Mr. Rutherford started a Web site,GettingBookReviews.com. At first, he advertised that he would review a book for $99. But some clients wanted a chorus proclaiming their excellence. So, for $499, Mr. Rutherford would do 20 online reviews. A few people needed a whole orchestra. For $999, he would do 50.
It seems like a pretty good business model and he was getting some serious coin from it by the looks of things but I do have a gripe with it. He is selling book reviews, which I think is fine. I haven’t seen his website but I imagine it was pretty clear that he was giving positive reviews, probably with 5 star ratings or equivalent.
On the business side I think it is fine. He is providing a service for a fee. But he is also doing something else. He is deceiving the public. Sure, some of the books that he read may have been good, a few may have even been great but I imagine most of them were average at best. Otherwise why would there be a need to pay someone for the positive reviews.
if you think the product is useless crap, you should also say so
If you think you are reviewing a good product you should convey that feeling, if you think the product is useless crap, you should also say so. In my opinion, if you are not honest, it is not really a review.
If you are writing copy for some product or service, OK. Focus on the positive. People can understand that you are trying to sell a product. I’ve written copy and have written in such a way as to make uninspiring activities seem fun. That said, I did try to keep it as honest as possible which meant leaving out my feelings in most cases and just talking about the facts. Yes, you can still make things sound attractive.
The thing is and many people are aware of this now, is that there are lots of fake reviews (see New York Times) out there. I don’t know about you guys, but I do use reviews to decide whether to buy something or avail of some service and it is time-consuming because we have to read the good reviews, the bad reviews and maybe even check the reviewer feedback to see if they can be trusted. It’s kind of a nightmare.
And it’s guys like this that make it worse. If he is a good writer, his reviews might be the ones to make you buy that book that disappoints you and wastes your time. If his review is the one that made you buy the book that you didn’t enjoy I think that he should compensate you for your time and money.
Todd Jason Rutherford – give us our money back!