ratings and the picky reader



In the interests of continuing to throughly thrash the topic of ratings – oh, yes, it’s possible – I wanted to follow up on the comment a number of people made about their average goodreads ratings tending to be high because they are very selective about the books they buy.


Hey!  I rhymed.  I luv these drugs.


This made me wonder about how carefully readers generally choose their books, particularly when it comes to ratings.


So, are you purely a 4 or 5 stars buyer?  Or do you occasionally slip in a 3 or *gasp* a 2 for curiousity’s sake?  Do tell.  πŸ™‚

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About Kris

Reads, rants, randoms & R+s. You've been warned. BTW, don't follow me if you're a GLBTQQphobic wanker. It won't end well. For you.
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31 Responses to ratings and the picky reader

  1. Chris says:

    I'm all over the place for what I buy. Often I buy before there are ratings… but it's more common for me not to really check the ratings and just take a chance. This can turn out badly. πŸ˜€ Although sometimes the very bad is so very good in its badness, even if I can't rate it about a 1 or 2.

    And if I didn't read some lower rated books, there's no way I could appreciate the really good stuff when I come across it, y'know?

  2. Ingrid says:

    I am like Chris, I often buy before the ratings. Sometimes I do buy based on a rating and I am getting disappointed that way.
    So after when this happens again, I tell myself to trust my own gut feelings but it doesn't always work that way.

  3. Chris says:

    Oh, and the only ratings I really trust are those of y'all, since I've figured out how our tastes do and don't mesh. πŸ™‚

  4. Emilie says:

    It depends on how subjective I think the review is. If a book seemed to have gotten a low rating because it contained content the reviewer disliked, but that is as a rule quite acceptable to me, I might well try it.

    If a review says that a book is historically inaccurate, for instance, I would be more likely to stay away from it. As a history major, I like my historical novels to be more on the realistic and well-researched side. It doesn't have to be so dryly written that all the romance is sucked out of it, but I want something I feel has some period authenticity.

    I read a very wide variety of books because I edit for different companies. I've gotten more into reading books with some themes after editing a number of them, like menage. I've learned to like a well-balanced menage story.

    Some books generally have surprised me with how much I liked them, when the blurb perhaps didn't have too much appeal for me. Others I've seen good reviews for and then realized after I bought them how horribly written they were. That's when I realize it's a reviewer who only gives glowing reviews no matter what, and I want to ask for my money back.

    I have gotten books that some reviewers really disliked after seeing a range of reviews, and realizing that I'd probably like the book, even despite some flaws the book might have, or things a particular reviewer sees as a flaw.

    I will distinguish between reviews that seem more academic or professional to me and reviews by a “layperson.” Mom's a librarian, and I worked as an acquisitions assistant for a while, so I've seen my share of Library Journal reviews. Those are generally more objective sorts of reviews.

    My two cents…

  5. Kaetrin says:

    I don't buy on ratings. I buy a book I think I'll like. In many ways, a low rating is a comment on how many times I've been wrong! πŸ™‚

  6. I buy all sorts of stuff. But now I only post the good ones at Goodreads. This is 'cause I was feeling self-conscious as an author (as if anybody really notices moi) but I didn't want to put myself in a position to engender any sort of attack. So GR doesn't tell my true ratings story.

    I don't purchase books based on ratings. I might make some decisions based on reviews that give me enough info to sway me if I'm on the fence.

    What I read also depends on my mood. Sometimes I just need Doritos books (I think that's what Tam calls them) but I don't given them more than 3 stars (in my private collection)

  7. D.L. says:

    I'm one of those people who is selective about the books I buy, but I've definitely bought 3 or 2 star books despite that. I've even bought 1 star books due to curiousity. For me I just like to know what I'm getting before I purchase something.

  8. Lily says:

    I rarely check the GR ratings before buying a book. I go by the blurb, review/recs from my circle of friends as well as the author.

  9. I'm more likely to buy because of a rec/word of mouth. Rating averages vary from site to site.

  10. Tam says:

    I'm like Lily. I don't think I've ever bought a book based on a GR rating. I have bought some books based on reviews of people I trust who have similar taste to me, but not GR. I usually find out what people think when I go to post my own rating. Surprise.

    When I shop I tend to scroll the list and if something catches my eye, good blurb, etc. I buy it. Then I find out if it's any good. Sometimes I can be sure what I'm getting but more often than not it's a crap shoot. But I'm one of those forgiving readers and it has to be pretty BAAAAAD for me to give it a low rating, or I simply DNF then don't rate it at all.

  11. Tam says:

    Doritos are definitely 3 stars Wren, sometimes even less but youjust can't help yourself despite knowing they aren't that healthy for you. πŸ™‚

  12. Mariana says:

    I don't really buy from the rating, but how some “reviewers” respond to the book. I look at the content of the review and make a decision. If it's something I like (or think I'll like) I usually get it.

    Also, since I've been really reading since high school, I've been able to refine what I like… so I don't really waste time following trends.

  13. zazaekitty41 says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Jackie says:

    I am like Chris and Ingrid, there are a lot of authors I buy from before the ratings come out. Those are from fav authors that I usually give my fours and fives to on a regular basis. I use GR when I'm testing the waters for a new author. I have been burned a couple times with the perfect synopsis and excerpt package, so GR does helps weed those out. However, I never buy until they have over ten ratings. I think that flushes out the friends and families reviewing it. I also have my sis to reco a book and we have the same tastes.

    Still, there are always a few lemons that find themselves in my shelf. Then, I force my sister to read the bad parts πŸ™‚

  15. K. Z. Snow says:

    I read what I think will interest me, regardless of genre. Simple as that. Subject matter, blurb, and excerpt are the determining factors.

    Ratings don't tell me squat, primarily because I've seen too many books praised in spite of serious flaws. I only check other readers' opinions if I have “issues” with a book while I'm reading it. But beforehand? Rarely.

  16. Kris says:

    Chris: Your comment makes much more sense to me this morning now that the effects of the meds have worn off. Hopefully. lol.

    And, yes, I am in agreement that some of the more horrid stuff does make you truly appreciate the good ones.

    “Oh, and the only ratings I really trust are those of y'all, since I've figured out how our tastes do and don't mesh. :)”

    Definitely! πŸ™‚

    Ingrid: “Sometimes I do buy based on a rating and I am getting disappointed that way.”

    I just figure that most of you are too easy on the ratings anyways. πŸ˜›

    Emilie: “I have gotten books that some reviewers really disliked after seeing a range of reviews, and realizing that I'd probably like the book, even despite some flaws the book might have, or things a particular reviewer sees as a flaw.”

    I've done that as well because I've realised that what cheesed the reviewer off is something that won't be a bother to me.

    “As a history major, I like my historical novels to be more on the realistic and well-researched side. It doesn't have to be so dryly written that all the romance is sucked out of it, but I want something I feel has some period authenticity.”

    Well, you already know that I am exactly the same. πŸ™‚ It's also one of the reasons why I had to stop myself from commenting on that review by Erastes where a fews of the fans kept on raving about historicals being fantasy. I think the top of my head nearly blew off.

  17. Kris says:

    Kaetrin: LOL! And do the low ratings you give ever change your mind about your approach to book buying?

    Wren: Who are you again?? πŸ˜‰

    “I don't purchase books based on ratings. I might make some decisions based on reviews that give me enough info to sway me if I'm on the fence.”

    I use GR ratings sometimes if it is a book that I'm umming and arring about. It's when the ratings are all over the place that I tend to buy it. Too many high ratings and I get suspicious.

    So you only rate in your private collection? Does that mean you use Calibre or something similar to rate your books on your PC or device or whatever?

    DL: “For me I just like to know what I'm getting before I purchase something.”

    I absolutely agree with you. I think that's why I'm very conscious of trying to be as consistent as possible when rating and making a comment here and there if I'm fangurling, not fond of a theme, etc.

  18. Kris says:

    Lily: I wonder how many people do use GR ratings then and why they are such a big deal? Maybe another post??

    FV: “Rating averages vary from site to site.”

    I'm totally with you on that one. *ponders* I wonder if that's why I tend to use GR ratings if I'm umming and arring about buying a book; that is, because I assume everyone if going by the explanations they have there for stars and the more the merrier. Or something like that anyways. πŸ™‚

    Tam: “I usually find out what people think when I go to post my own rating. Surprise.”

    LOL. It does feel like that sometimes, doesn't it. That's when I'm usually 'what the fuck was Tam thinking.' πŸ˜›

  19. Kris says:

    Mariana: “I don't really buy from the rating, but how some “reviewers” respond to the book. I look at the content of the review and make a decision. If it's something I like (or think I'll like) I usually get it.”

    As I was reading your comment, Mariana, I realised that when I first started reading m/m I used to read a whole range of reviews quite frequently. Now I tend to stick with the reviewers I trust and use GR ratings to get an overall sense of the responses to a book. Have I become more discerning or just plain lazy I wonder??

    Jackie: “I have been burned a couple times with the perfect synopsis and excerpt package, so GR does helps weed those out. However, I never buy until they have over ten ratings.”

    That's a good approach, which, I suspect, requires a great deal more patience than I have at times. LOL.

    “Still, there are always a few lemons that find themselves in my shelf. Then, I force my sister to read the bad parts :)”

    You're mean. We're going to have so much fun in NO.

    KZ: “I read what I think will interest me, regardless of genre. Simple as that.”

    You've always struct me as someone who has eclectic tastes, KZ, and is as far removed from the bandwagon that a reader can get… despite dipping her toes in every once in a while and wondering what the fuck everyone is raving about. πŸ™‚

  20. I am Legion.

    Kris: “So you only rate in your private collection? Does that mean you use Calibre or something similar to rate your books on your PC or device or whatever?”

    I have a simple excel spreadsheet I use. I can write all the snarky comments I want and nobody gets hurt.

  21. Tam says:

    'what the fuck was Tam thinking.

    See and I'm thinking 'Jesus Christ Kris is harsh'. πŸ˜›

  22. Kris says:

    Wren: But Mumma always told me that it's much more fun to share. ;P

    Tam: LOL! Oh, snap!

  23. Kris: I'm afraid your Mumma was wrong, sweetie.

  24. Kris says:

    Wow. You must be really nasty offline then, Wren. *whispers* Email me.

  25. K. Z. Snow says:

    Yeah, I've done a few toe-dips just to see what all the “wowie-zowie” was about, but I think I'm going to abandon the practice. There's just too much wowie-zowie-ing that leaves me WTFing. In fact, this evening I read an excerpt from a recent wowie-zowie and knew immediately I'd never be able to get through the whole novel. The first chapter was eighty kinds of mess.

    I'll tell ya, it's pure joy to come upon a book like Whistling in the Dark that's fully deserving of all the praise. The work of Manna Francis, Ginn Hale, and some other authors has struck me that way too. It's like the best possible gift!

  26. Kris says:

    KZ: “There's just too much wowie-zowie-ing that leaves me WTFing.”

    Fair enough. πŸ™‚ And I hear ya re: the work of Manna Francis, Ginn Hale and others. Definite wow factors.

  27. orannia says:

    It's more whether the premise intrigues me and what the reviews think. I usually get more of an idea from the why as to whether or not it will work for me. And occasionally I just throw caution to the wind and buy a book. I did that on the weekend. One was…so-so, the other I love, even though it has numerous flaws. It just…works. Which kind of confirms my theory that five star reads are a gut thing for me πŸ™‚

  28. Kaetrin says:

    @ Orannia – what book was the one you loved?

  29. Kris says:

    I'm as curious as Kaetrin. Do tell, Orannia. πŸ™‚

  30. Ferishia says:

    Yes, I am late to this party, but I'm here. LOL

    I use a combination of factors to decide; if my friends that read the same types of books I do, have read and liked/disliked, rating on GR, rating on AMZ (which I take with a grain of salt), and if I read something else from the author. Then there are times when I discount all of that and just go for it. I've bought books that were rated 1 star and enjoyed it and books that came highly recd and I hated it and didn't finish. Some authors are an auto-buy for me no matter what their books are rated by others.

  31. Kris says:

    F: “Then there are times when I discount all of that and just go for it.”

    Yeah. The 'zOMG! I must own this' books you buy for whatever reason and regardless of what anyone else has to say about it. πŸ™‚

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