I met Jasper Fforde a couple of years ago – we were on a panel together at the Llandeilo BookFest. I’ve always enjoyed his writing and to meet him in person was a huge treat for me. So, as you can imagine, I was eagerly awaiting his latest book – Early Riser. I’m still kitchenless so now is the perfect time to curl up with a good book.
Looking it up on Amazon, I was amazed at some of the reviews he’s been getting and not in a good way. I think we’ve touched on this subject before – reviews. Good and bad – how important are they?
For some reason – and it won’t have had anything to do with Jasper Fforde himself – the Kindle price has been set at £13.99, while the paperback price is £7.99 and, not surprisingly, there have been a number of adverse comments and one-star reviews. There’s also been a comment from someone who received the book in a bad condition. And that isn’t anything to do with Jasper, either.
I get that people are upset about the price. I get that someone is disappointed their book arrived with torn pages, but why do people persist in leaving one-star reviews complaining about something that is absolutely nothing to do with the author? If you check out the page you’ll see that his agent has taken the really quite unusual step of using the Amazon review page to point this out. I don’t think I can ever remember that happening before but if people will insist on using the review system for a purpose it was never intended then I suppose there’s nothing to stop Mr Fforde’s agent responding in kind.
We’ve all had these sort of reviews. My personal favourite is:
Ordered in error. Couldn’t be bothered to read it. One star.
Thus indicating the reviewer has more than mastered the unbelievably complex one-click Amazon ordering system, read the book thoroughly and produced a balanced and thoughtful review outlining their conclusions.
Authors rely on reviews to sell their books. Good ones, preferably. They’re very important to us. One-star reviews about something over which the author has no control are heartbreaking. I myself am about to break the habit of a lifetime and spend much more than I normally would on a Kindle book out of sheer bloody-mindedness and fellow author support. It is a lot of money and I don’t urge anyone to follow my example, but if you were considering buying Early Riser then perhaps this will help you make up your mind.