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Are Bad Reviews Better than No Reviews?

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Here’s an interesting article that says Stanford researchers believe bad book reviews may help lesser known authors.

The key point here is that researchers “looked at the effects bad publicity had in well-known and obscure books over time. Some subjects looked at glowing and negative reviews for a well-known book by John Grisham and reviews for an obscure, made-up title… Subjects who read negative reviews of well-known books were less likely to buy the book. Negative reviews of unknown books, however, did not affect whether or not the subject was likely to purchase it.”

What’s particularly interesting to me is that I’ve never really seen the point of a bad book review for a little known book. If, as a critic, you feel the need to strike a blow against the Harry Potter or Twilight juggernaut, then sure, write a bad review. But if you’re examining some small title that is going to be lucky to sell 2,000 copies, then why waste the space? With precious few inches in magazines and newspapers devoted to literary coverage, I would rather give attention to a book I liked> and want people to know about, rather then waste breath on something bad.

But this article may cause me to re-examine that philosophy…