Harvard study reveals the accuracy of Amazon book reviews

A new study published at Harvard Business School has found that Amazon reviews are just as likely in some circumstances to be as accurate of a summation of what a book is about as the reviews found in professional newspapers.

Professor Michael Luca and other co-authors of the case study took at a look at the top 100 non-fiction reviews that were published in four different media newspapers including the Washington Post, the Guardian, and the New York Times over the years spanning 2004 and 2007 and found that Amazon reviews were likely to warrant the same results.

In order to craft their findings in the paper titled ‘What Makes a Critic Tick’ the study’s authors utilised data from metacritic.com which takes professional reviews and then gives ratings based on the content within the reviews.

Although they are careful to mention that there is no quality assurance on Amazon and that publishers could submit false reviews as could competitors, they agreed that overall most consumers and experts seem to agree on the quality of a book.

Interestingly enough they also found that Amazon reviewers were much more likely to offer a positive review of a book that is written by a debut author while experts may be slower to adapt and accept books they are not familiar with and authors they do not know. On the other hand, experts were more likely to be positive about well known authors and those who have won prizes for their works.