Fake (best money can buy) reviews

Suddenly it hit him. Instead of trying to cajole others to review a client’s work, why not cut out the middleman and write the review himself? Then it would say exactly what the client wanted – that it was a terrific book. A shattering novel. A classic memoir. Will change your life. Lyrical and gripping, Stunning and compelling. Or words to that effect.

Todd Rutherford placed fake book reviews

Todd Rutherford placed fake book reviews

Does anyone read a book based on a review?

I do not as book reviews are meaningless.

Often they are pretentious crap. Try listening to the pretentious crap on BBC Radio 4 Front Row (especially when presented by Mark Lawson) and you get the idea. A programme that should have been scrapped years ago, as too often scraping the bottom of the barrel to pad out the programme.

A deposit in the Favour Bank. You write a good review of my book and I will return the favour.

A hatchet job, too often a hack who cannot write, and writes a bad review out of sheer spite.

Too often the reviewer has not read the book, or if they have they have completely failed to comprehend what the writer has had to say, but they are on a deadline, they are paid to churn out so many words.

The blurb on the back often bears no resemblance to the book. Did the person who wrote the blurb actually read the book? Probably not.

Books are hyped, could be baked beans, a commodity to be flogged, pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap (as Waterstone’s does).

An excellent example of a hyped book is 50 Shades of Crap.

There is now a new category, the paid for book review. A bit like you have an essay to write, you are not up to it, well why not pay someone to write it for you? It is called cheating.

Step forward Todd Rutherford, he offers the best book reviews money can buy. He even set up a website offering his service. He does not only write the reviews, he will place them for you.

He used to try and get books which his company published reviewed. Hard work. Why not do the reviews yourself, cut out the middleman? Why not go one step better and offer a positive review service?

At first, he advertised that he would review a book for $99. But some clients wanted a chorus proclaiming their excellence. So, for $499, Todd Rutherford would do 20 online reviews. A few people needed a whole orchestra. For $999, he would do 50.

Before he knew it he was raking in $28,000 a month!

According to  Bing Liu, a data-mining expert at the University of Illinois, Chicago, the wheels of online commerce run on positive reviews

The New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell wrote in 1964:

If there was anything the human race had a sufficiency of, a sufficiency and a surfeit, it was books … the cataracts of books, the Niagaras of books, the rushing rivers of books, the oceans of books, the tons and truckloads and trainloads of books that were pouring off the presses of the world at that moment … [so few would be] worth picking up and looking at, let alone reading.

Most of these books went to be pulped.

What Joseph Mitchell saw as a torrent, was a mere trickle to what we have today, a flood of books of Biblical proportions, thanks to self-publishing, now hyper-charged with e-publishing. And I am not counting blogs and tweets.

In 2006, before Amazon supercharged electronic publishing with the Kindle, 51,237 self-published titles appeared as physical books, according to the data company Bowker. Last year, Bowker estimates that more than 300,000 self-published titles were issued in either print or digital form.

It seems lost on those churning out this rubbish, that a) you have to be able to write and b) you have to have something interesting to say.

In theory a good review sorts out the wheat from the chaff. The job of a good editor in the days of gentleman publishers, when publishing was owned by people who understand and appreciated good literature, now we have the Murdoch family and other spivs and philistines out to make a fast buck with the latest best-seller, me-too copycat novel, and the pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap mentality of chains like Waterstone’s.

Job opportunities for hacks are a rarity these days with provincial papers going under and salaries no better than flipping burgers at McDonald’s.

With the service he was offering Todd Rutherford soon realised he needed help. He advertised on Craiglist for hacks. Within 24 hours, 75 wannabe hacks had taken the bait. He was offering $15 for a favourable review, a less than favourable review got half that. No surprise then the hacks churned out glowing testimonials for the books they were paid to review.

One of the reviewers earnt herself $12,500 in a few months. It goes without saying she did not read the books. She is co-founder of a PR company!

The end came crashing down when a young Oregon woman Ashly Lorenzana wrote about life as a working girl,  Sex, Drugs & Being an Escort. She did not feel she had got what she had paid for and said she could get a better service for $5.

The website is now for sale.

But not deterred, Todd Rutherford is developing a service where, for $99, he blogs and tweets about a book.

The word fraud comes to mind.

That is where bandcamp is a big plus. You listen, you decide, and if you like, you can download, share with your friends.

TripAdvisor is plagued by fake reviews and not enough is being done to weed them out.

There are glowing reviews, all singing from the same hymn sheet, clearly put there at the behest of the owner or management of the business.

There are bad reviews, owners of rival businesses dishing the competition.

Then there are the trolls.

There is also the problem of competence. Is someone who eats at KFC or McDonald’s capable of writing restaurant reviews?

Spam tweets offer twitter followers for sale. I block and report as spam. Any suspicious followers on twitter I delete.

If you have something worthwhile to say, people will follow you, they will re-tweet what you tweet. If you do not have anything worthwhile to say, do not tweet.

Tweetlevel is a better measure than crude number of followers.

All the reviews here, opinions, are genuine, nothing has been paid for!

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One Response to “Fake (best money can buy) reviews”

  1. keithpp Says:

    Fake reviews on TripAdvisor

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