the amazon book reviews

the amazon book reviews

Analyzing the Impact of Amazon Book Reviews on Consumer Behavior

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1. Introduction to Amazon Book Reviews

Amazon offers customers the opportunity to post reviews of products for sale. These reviews are typically limited to those people who have actually purchased the product from Amazon. Review space is available even for pre-publication book manuscripts offered through Amazon’s “Search inside the Book” program (at this writing, called “Buy this Book” for pre-publication manuscripts, and available as an “invite” only program). Post-publication, of course, they encourage any customer to purchase the final volume while supplies last! Several authors have commented on their customer-based approaches to evaluation: saly properties across differing accWe are the first, to our knowledge, to test a model of the impact of these pre-publication Amazon customer reviews on both the sales and the ratings of books. Using a unique dataset, we are able to examine the impact of the reviews and their “noisiness” on customer behavior in a relatively free of gaming environment. Our results suggest a very limited impact of pre-publication book reviews on the sales of those books.

Customer reviews have potential value as a measure of whether consumers have obtained the experience they expected from a product. When reviews are not widely available, the certainty of this relative uncertainty is reduced when incentives for shilling are small. We exploit a unique case of quasi-randomness in Amazon’s decision to allow customers to post reviews of certain pre-publication book manuscripts. We explore what, if any, impact the reviews have on consumer behaviour, as measured by the ultimate sales of those books. We find almost no evidence that the number of customer reviews has any impact on the sales of the reviewed books when controlling for the rating and the “noisiness” of the reviews. What little evidence we do find is in the opposite direction: negative reviews (not negative ratings), but positive ratings (not positive reviews), have some impact on the sales of books that were not widely reviewed outside of Amazon.

2. The Influence of Amazon Book Reviews on Purchasing Decisions

Yes, you read that title correctly – book reviews on Amazon matter and they matter a lot. This may seem blatantly obvious, but we begin this investigation with a brief discussion of channels through which book reviews can exert influence. The first channel through which book reviews can exert an influence on product demand is simpliciter via the quantity and quality of information provided by the review. This channel is based on a correspondence between what a reader believes constitutes the information set relevant to an evaluation of a book and what factors are believed to play a key role in determining a reader’s purchasing decision. There are also a number of ‘secondary’ channels through which book reviews can exert influence on demand behavior. These occur if learning occurs from the behavior of the reviewer or from the behavior of other potentially successful reader-shoppers on the Amazon site.

3. Factors Affecting the Credibility of Amazon Book Reviews

The following factors greatly influence the perceived credibility of IWOM: anonymous review writers are deemed less credible than non-anonymous writers, as are disinterested third parties whose assessments are more credible. Users are also less likely to consider the information credible and provide positive feedback in the case when the percentage of extreme evaluations is greater than that of low ratings, opinions are less credible, and the quantity of review writers decreases down to a lower boundary. Critics’ credibility evaluations are negative because they only provide evaluations and no factual information. Providing only inside perspectives leads to users judging the opinions as unreliable. Although the writer’s intellectual quality may produce better evaluations, the level of interests would decline if the percentage of extreme evaluations is too high. The larger the discrepancy between the average rating of all writers and a particular writer, the more positive the effect will be. When readers misuse the “unhelpful” button, helpful button or “archive” function, they evaluate the author’s credibility negatively.

The credibility of an information source is one of the major factors consumers take into account. That is, the credibility of Amazon book reviews largely affects consumers’ purchasing behaviors, and authors increase their sales revenues by manipulating their perceived credibility. This research investigates factors that influence the credibility of Internet word-of-mouth (IWOM) reviews. Based on online informational cascades, two studies are employed to analyze factual and numerical material information. Stepwise regression and a logistic regression classification tree are used to verify the influencing factors and illustrate prediction models for Amazon book reviews’ credibility.

4. Ethical Considerations in Writing and Using Amazon Book Reviews

Other questions that should be considered include: – Do others’ views deserve to be part of a secondary data analysis? – How valuable is data present in the public domain? – Is it acceptable to analyze an information source such as Amazon book reviews that was not initially intended for use in this way? – Is it acceptable to use others’ words? – How should conversations between the reviews and any data analysts be managed?

Before writing a review of someone’s scholarly business books, it is worth considering that economics writer and essayist Brad Gallagher (2004), writing in the New York Times, examined business books submitted to seek positive review quotes and endorsements before the books were published. He argued that book reviewers and those who give jackets praise excellent content with honesty, are sponsored or employed only for a particular viewpoint, and have the courage to criticize as well as commend. This is especially worth considering if an endorsement is solicited.

Collecting and writing Amazon book reviews thrusts a person into the heart of ethical concerns involving what others say and do, the use of others’ ideas, and research on Amazon book reviews. Writers of these reviews make themselves vulnerable and may not realize that published reviews are open to abuse in the form of quotes being taken out of context, biting sarcasm, and rejecting a writer’s approach to a subject as presented in the book.

5. Future Research Directions and Implications

Selecting products that are of current interest will significantly influence the generalizability of the findings for consumer search behavior. It also makes researchers think about why consumers consider books in a different way and how they tend to make different assumptions. The reviews that consumers write also help other researchers understand much of the current interests and ideas of these consumers. Future researchers can easily discuss “electronic word-of-mouth” in a single genre, such as selecting “Best-Selling Books of the Year” and analyzing these comments and ratings from online book retailers. Although many consumers may use electronic word-of-mouth to write a review, the ratio of comments to ratings is another valuable channel for further research.

Overall, my study is one of the earliest empirical studies that illustrates how consumers use book reviews when making purchase decisions. The results of my study should shed light on how to approach consumers by altering their behavior in a more favorable way. Books and movies, regardless of the genre, attract a large number of consumers. Therefore, researchers and marketing managers will pay special attention to this specific group of products and issues. As always, a good research study will bring more questions and thoughts that could inspire follow-up research. The findings of this study could benefit literary publishers, writers, and online book retailers from a practical point of view.

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