How A Group Of Michael Jackson Fans Sunk A Book On Amazon

How A Group Of Michael Jackson Fans Sunk A Book On Amazon

To what extent can online book reviews be trusted and what can authors do in the face of 'attack reviews'?

Plus Aziz
  • 25 january 2013

Online book reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads have an immense power over the sales of newly published work, but how trustworthy are reviews?

A new book about Michael Jackson shows the strength of fan groups and how online reviews can be ‘gamed’ to read a certain way. Michael Jackson’s Rapid Response Team To Media Attacks is a Facebook and Twitter group that leveraged their social networks to ask other fans to write negative reviews of the new book ‘Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson’ by Randall Sullivan. Fans were infuriated by the way he discussed what plastic surgery did to MJ’s nose and the author’s assertion that he died a virgin.

In a larger scope, the situation calls to attention to two problems that help us better understand web culture (or at least the Amazon ecosystem). The first is a question regarding online anonymity. This removes the accountability associated with the reviewer by, for example, putting someone that hasn’t read the book alonside someone that actually did. The second problem is that reviewers’ own opinions might conform to what’s already posted; particularly if they’re being directed from a forum or social media dialogue. The second issue is a common problem in other parts of the web like SoundCloud, where a visitor might think a track is good based on the fact that it appears to have received many plays or likes.

Many recognize online reviews as the closest thing we have online to ‘word of mouth’ marketing, but to what extent can such reviews be trusted? Particularly when you’re dealing with mobs of fans? Amazon has not taken any definitive steps to curb mobs of fans, but they have cracked down on writer’s reviews of other writers and reviews submitted by family members, according to the NYTimes. The article frames this issue succinctly in posing the question: is a review merely a gesture of enthusiasm or should it be held to a higher standard?


Transformable Table Maximizes Utility In Small Spaces

Design & Architecture
Syndicated Today

How Fashion Became All About Fonts

Why a new wave of designs have put typography front and center on your clothing

Retail Today

GM And Audi Are Experimenting With Car Rentals In SF

The automakers are trying something new to capture the segment of urban dwellers who don't want to own a car


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Travel Today

This Vertical Forest Hotel Will Improve The Air Around It

An architectural firm is creating a lush mountain lodging in China with so much greenery that it will actually clean the atmosphere

Europe Today

This Company Believes Insects Can Provide Biofuel To Power Our Future

A Polish group is testing out a new factory concept that can provide a source of renewable energy, and even serve space missions

Related Expert

Scott Ballum

Environment, Retail, Online Media

Technology Today

Music Venue Caters To Virtual Reality Events

Boiler Room has launched the first VR hub for content creators to capture special footage for the masses

Gaming & Play Today

Automated Chessboard Lets You Play Against Anyone In The World

Square Off is an AI-powered board that can move the pieces on its own

Technology Today

Contraband Recorder Helps Those In Need Capture Captive Conversations

Designer Marianna Mezhibovkaya created the device to help prison inmates capture crucial evidence of abuse


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed Today

Health Expert: Nutritional Meal Replacements Are A Solution To Corporate Wellness

Ample Foods Founder Connor Young explains why supplements are the next food trend coming to the workplace

PSFK Labs Yesterday

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Advertising Today

A Compelling Brand Purpose Is Never Born In The Boardroom

Strategist and Designer Anna-Rae Morris shares why she believes all brands exist for a reason, and how Snapchat has upended our behavior

Retail Today

Creative Leadership Expert: Experiencing A Seismic Shift From Brand Loyalty To Interface Loyalty

Marc Shillum, founder of Chief Creative Office, explains why product designers must rethink the way they capture consumer attention

Fitness & Sport Today

Editorial Roundtable: The Xs And Os Of Performance-Enhanced Sports

WHOOP, ShotTracker, Rithmio, PlaySight, STYR Labs, EverybodyFights and Lift / Next Level Floats explain that we're only at the iceberg's tip of performance enhancement

Design & Architecture Today

Kodak’s Smartphone Is Inspired By A Retro Camera

Ektra is an Android phone with a powerful lens aimed at photographers

Sustainability Today

Modern Home Created Entirely Out Of Modular Shipping Crates

A project in Ecuador used the ubiquitous material to design a spacious and industrial-chic house

Retail Today

Retail Concept Offers Food Hall Inspired Space For Online Brands

The store will offer a lower cost way for internet entrepreneurs to try physical retailing

Advertising Today

Disney Retells Beauty And The Beast On Snapchat

In a partnership with LACMA, the entertainment platform drew from over 130,000 works in the museum's collection

No search results found.