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Technology & Innovation

Online Book Reviews Prove to be Unreliable

While online reviews help guide millions of consumers purchases each day, new information shows growing trend of fabricated reviews. 

What’s the Latest Development?

When authors finally get a book published, they look for online reviews to help promote their book. Searching for reviewers can be a laborious and fruitless effort, so some businesses are offering dozens, sometimes hundreds, of book reviews as long as the author is willing to pay for them. One business,, was able to sell 4,531 reviews before it was eventually shut down. While some businesses offer honest reviews, others just offer a swath of positive ones, which then complicates the whole point of reviewing a book.

What’s the Big Idea?

Bing Liu, a data-mining expert at the University of Illinois, Chicago, has estimated that “about one-third of all consumer reviews on the Internet are fake.” When a person looks for purchasing help from reviews on Amazon or other popular online book vendors, a lot of what they may find are made up reviews that were paid for by the author. Jason Rutherford, the owner of, went so far as to say that when looking at reviews, he now will only really believe a negative review. While notable reviews from large publications can be a helpful guide, Amazon reviews and other user-reviews are proving to be less and less reliable.

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