Link Irresponsibly – Early April 2011

High-quality reviews improve product sales

In our recent paper “Towards a Theory Model for Product Search”, we noticed that demand for a hotel increases if the online reviews on TripAdvisor and Travelocity are well-written, without spelling errors; this holds no matter if the review is positive or negative. In our paper “Estimating the Helpfulness and Economic Impact of Product Reviews: Mining Text and Reviewer Characteristics”, we observed similar trends for products sold and reviewed on Amazon.com.

I think this result holds true for books as well. More than once I’ve avoided books because the reviews I saw tended to be poorly written. This has one immediate application in a part of book marketing that I’ve seen lately: blog tours. If you decide to market via a blog tour, you really want to make sure the quality of writing from your de facto marketers is reasonable. I think also that more subtle quality markers other than grammar will have some effect too. If the blog reviews crappy books (e.g., much of what is self-published), and also reviews your book, there’s some bleed over effect.

Patrick Ness’s top 10 ‘unsuitable’ books for teenagers.

My childhood reading was blissfully unchaperoned. My parents were just happy I liked to read, and so I – in utter innocence – would wander into the public library and pick up any old thing. I read Harold Robbins’ Celebrity when I was 13, for example. It was VERY educational. … All bookish young readers over-reach occasionally, and if they discover they like it, they keep on doing it. What a great way to establish reading as exciting and maybe even dangerous, eh?

My freshman year in the Jesuit high school, my English teacher assigned Jean M. Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear to the class. I’m still a little agog at that. I don’t remember much beyond the general synopsis at this point. However, to this day I remember exactly what pages that contained the sex scene. That selection forever cemented in my mind that there really isn’t anything that is too mature for a reader.

Race, Again, Still by Nisi Shawl.

James Patrick Kelly posited as precursors to SF some nonexistent stories by an 1890s version of his copanelist Ted Chiang. Then Jim asked Ted if he thought he could have written those stories back in the 19th century, without the benefit of an SF tradition. “Assuming I didn’t die working on a railroad,” Ted said. The room exploded. … He had just whisked aside the drapes covering the elephant furnishing this conference’s conversational nook, revealing the racial element missing from Jim’s thesis. There followed questions about cultural and racial assumptions influencing genre assignment.

Nisi’s essays are always worth a read. This one relates some experiences she had with people who made assumptions about her because she’s black. Nisi is the reason I will be going to WisCon this year. She’s the guest of honor.

And how could I link irresponsibly without including some porn for you, book porn.

Seattle Public Library by Gary Lund

Seattle Public Library by Gary Lund (CC By-Nc)

That’s the library I go to. Isn’t it beautiful?

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