Blogger Confession: 3 Star Follow-Up What I have learned

Posted July 15, 2015 by Felicia S in Blogger Confession / 31 Comments


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OK y’all: I am following up Why the Hate for 3’s? with the 3 Star Follow-Up What I have learned information that I have gathered so far (I will update if I get any more)! This post will be divided into two sections:

1) Just the facts or in this case what people are saying (not sure anyone is for certain what goes on in Amazon’s mind)
2) Brief opinion from me (cause be shocked I have one *smile*)

Just the facts as they have been presented to me

  • Β Most of the 3 Star problem is related to or started by Amazon’s view of a 3. Let me go into that a little further…
    • Amazon considers a 3 star rating “bad” meaning it can be counted in the most dependable worst ratings.
    • Amazon considers the higher ratings a more dependable product so then they (Amazon) will promote that product more (yes a knife rating and entertainment rating evidently mean the same thing in the Amazon world)
    • This “can” (so I have heard but I am not an author) impact an author’s earnings or at least their visibility
    • 3 Star ratings on Amazon mean “it’s OK”


  • 3 Star ratings mean pretty much the same though (Liked It) on all book centric sites: Goodreads, Library Thing, Shelfari, Barnes and Noble


  • 3 Star ratings mean different things to different people (aka the answers I got)….
    • 3 stars mean solid but not a reread
    • 3 stars mean OK but nothing memorable
    • 3 stars mean average
    • 3 stars mean recommended with a few problems
    • 3 stars mean not going on the keeper shelf but enjoyable


  • 3 Star ratings and purchasing (this varied)
    • Some readers would not buy or read anything that had less than an average 4 star rating
    • Some readers actually use 3 star rating reviews to determine whether to buy a new to them author
    • Some readers buy books because they have a solid 3.5 to low 4 star rating with high number of reviews.
    • Some readers said it was more about the number of reviews vs the actual star rating.
    • Some readers said it didn’t matter what the star was but the content of the review


If you have links to articles or blog posts that you would like me to link up please send them to me! Even if they are opinion. I am a firm believer in more knowledge is power. Readers are smart enough to read everything on the subject and form their own POVs!

My Thoughts

I am going to preface this by saying that this might lose me some author friends but I am solidly on the reader side of the fence so here we go…..

  • This is NOT a reader problem! It is great information to have if you are so inclined to help your favorite authors out however…
    • If rating books is for your own tracking, peace of mind, or because you just have something to say then rate it whatever the hell you want. As a reader I want to see the conversation so go for it!
    • It is not our fault that amazon considers a 3 star knife (something I won’t buy) the same as a 3 star entertainment product (which I absolutely will buy because a few hours of my time can often be spent on things that I enjoyed in the moment but won’t necessarily do again)
    • You should never be emotionally blackmailed (not saying authors do it but the whole scenario might make you feel cornered) into rating something higher because you are concerned about the bottom line of someone else. It is great if rating higher is what you WANT to do but you shouldn’t feel you HAVE to. To be honest, I feel you are more supportive by being honest about your feelings and rankings. I have always felt reviews/ratings were for readers. I am sure that some authors look at it differently.
    • Eventually this will make 4 star reviews irrelevant to the person in the know (they will consider them 3s) because let’s get real that is basically what Amazon is saying. Also, at least in my eyes, it will cheapen the 5. Personally, I HATE THAT!


  • I still think posting a 3 star review is better than not reviewing at all…
    • It starts a conversation and I still buy 80% of my books based on conversations rather than ratings
    • See up there where the number of reviews counts more in someone’s eyes than the actual rating–I believe this to be true. I know if I look at the average rating and it is 4.25 but only has 60 ratings then I dismiss that particular rating average. Why? I just assume it is friends, family, fangirls.Β  It can also get you through the revenge/hater ratings if there are more reviews because higher number generally means general public.
    • It gives a different POV and in entertainment I think that is important. We can’t all love everything.


Finally I just want to say while I gathered this information (and it is good to know) it doesn’t change my view of 3 star ratings. It probably won’t change the consistency of which I post them either. I looked at my ratings since 2009 and I am pretty consistently a 4 star giver. My average is 3.66 so clearly I give my fair number of 3s, 2s, and 1s also. I don’t know that I want to lump my 3s with 4s especially since my rating at the Kindle is updated to both Goodreads and Amazon. In the end, I decided for me that I will just continue to rate/review the way I always have. However, I get that this information might change the way some of you rank and that is OK by me too πŸ™‚


Felicia S
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31 responses to “Blogger Confession: 3 Star Follow-Up What I have learned

  1. I totally agree with you! I won’t dismiss a book just because it was rated 3 stars. I base my decision on a few reviews, the overview (and yes the cover). I still give 3 stars a chance because it could be a 5 star read to me. Great post Felicia.

  2. That’s good to know about Amazon, I can see how authors would be concerned but like you I think that’s a problem with Amazon, not our ratings. A knife is very different from a book! I honestly don’t pay attention to Amazon reviews AT ALL with all the drama that has happened with reviews being bought, etc. Even on Goodreads, I don’t pay much attention to the average review and instead look at my friends’ reviews and why they gave that review. Something that is a pet peeve of mine could by why someone loved the book, or something I love could by why they hated it. It’s all so variable! But yeah, I’m going to keep rating how works for me and hope my followers are able to figure out from my review how a book might suit them.

  3. I’m with Melanie, I never read book reviews on Amazon, I always read them on Goodreads.
    When I started to read I used to give higher ratings, but I notice lately I have become more strict with my ratings, I think it is because now I know better what works and doesn’t work for me and what is good and what it isn’t.
    I also agree that I wouldn’t buy something for my house with a 3 start rating, but books are something else and should be judge differently.

    • Me either. I don’t even look at book ratings on Amazon which might explain why I never paid attention to the algorithm. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I bought anything by just glancing at the recommendations on Amazon. I usually go straight to the book I want to buy based off reviews/suggestions from friends. I am still 80% from conversations about books and 20% somehow it randomly shows up at my door LOL

  4. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever read a review on Amazon for a book. I always check out blogs or Goodreads. I know I’m not the general book buyer and that reviews on Amazon are needed, but I guess that I why I never considered that the Amazon algorithm when I rate books. I do agree with you that books are different from “products” when it comes to ratings. Just like I expect different things from buying a cheap t-shirt than from buying a washing machine. They aren’t the same thing, so the philosophy behind rating them will be different.

    • Me neither so I didn’t put much thought into that. I will probably continue to not put much thought into it. I give 3s but mostly give 4s so while I feel bad that the 3 isn’t reflective of what I think it means/I am just going to roll with my way πŸ™‚

  5. I figure my job is to be honest and tell readers what I think. I don’t use star ratings on my site, just Goodreads where it means “liked it” but in my mind, any site that only measures on one dimension is making a mistake by putting too much meaning into it.
    On a statistical level the center of a five point scale is the center of the bell curve. Like a grade rating, where ‘A’ is best and ‘F’ is worst (with no “e”), a “C” was always considered an average grade. Then schools started adjusting grades so they matched the bell curve. Or maybe they began using different models for their analyses.
    I rarely post my reviews on Amazon.

    • That is how I feel. I do ratings on my site just for me (but then again I divide them down by quarters and no one would understand my logic outside of me LOL). I mostly depend on what the actual review says. I don’t even really read blurbs unless I am on the fence and think that it might put me one way or another. I like hearing what people have to say about the books. It doesn’t even have to be a long review to make an impact. I get though that I might not be a typical reader LOL

  6. I had no idea that Amazon viewed a 3 star rating as bad. I agree with your thoughts on this one – especially the “It’s not a reader problem” – because the 4’s and 5’s are freely given to a story that is clearly mediocre, and not just in my own opinion, but in the words from reviews. Not to bring economics into it, but it makes me look at the 4’s and 5’s in the same way as the value of the American dollar. I guess I’ll continue on with my ratings as I have been, which is 3 being the middle of the road, an enjoyable read that was good, not great, but not bad, and one I’d recommend.

    • Right?!?!?! Me either but then again I don’t look at book ratings on Amazon. Seriously by the time I am on the site or on my kindle I know which book I am going for. I opened up the site today to see what they would suggest to me and have to say that really they just suggested other books by authors that I already bought. That doesn’t seem to me like it based on ratings but by name so I am not sure how much credence I put into the higher visibility thing. πŸ™‚

  7. Good information to know, but I won’t change the way I review either because of the way Amazon does things. I love shopping on Amazon, but I don’ tput much credence in their reveiws anymore because they can delete them at will, so you can’t always trust the reivews on there. If I want book reviews I go to Goodreads. At least they are open and honest there. So frustrating to see this trend. I hate feeling like I am bullied into giving higher reviews.

    • I do love shopping on Amazon but have to say I don’t pay attention to ratings on books there. Products is another thing entirely but I also read the reviews. I don’t read reviews of books on there though. It is odd but that area I am a very focused shopper. I know exactly what I want based on friend and book club recommendations. πŸ™‚

  8. As a reviewer I give more 5 and 3 stars than anything. I think a 3 star is neither good nor bad. It’s where the books that I read but don’t find particularly remarkable fall. Because don’t we all have plenty of reads like that? The ones where we pick it up and it just doesn’t meet our criteria for feeling passionate about it (either passionately negative or positive). I do think that it’s better for the authors that Amazon considers 3 stars ‘bad reviews’ otherwise you’d see much worse reviews in that top spot most of the time. That said, I agree there is a huge difference between say a moisturizer or food processor (items I’ve read reviews for and purchased on Amazon) and a book or movie. Entertainment is just so much more subjective and intricate than choosing paper towels or a yoga mat.

    • Yes! I mean just totally different mindset for objects (want them to last–need them to be worth the buck longevity wise) to entertainment (ok with a few hours “take me away” time) πŸ™‚

      I have learned so darn much for this πŸ™‚

  9. I think it is rediculous how much emphasis Amazon puts on ratings as a whole. The REVIEW is far more important to me than the star rating in my opinion, especially since ratings are pretty subjective person to person.

    • I agree! I think though that Amazon just lumps it with everything else so I get that it is easier. I get it has to be frustrating to authors (movies and music) because entertainment can absolutely be fine for 3 hours but not something we do again. So I get the why but the number ratings are mostly for me. It is the reason I am ridiculous and do .25 scales LOL

  10. This is great! I’m still going to probably rate and choose books the same way I always have, but it’s so interesting to see how everyone else thinks about it. Thanks for posting this!

  11. I left a long comment on the first post but I guess it was gobbled up lol

    I just don’t get it. I like a variety of reviews and all 4’s or 5’s won’t help me buy a book. If they force it to be all positive no matter how you actually feel the reviews cease to be relevant. I don’t even bother with Amazon reviews because of the prevalence of paid/friend/family reviews.

    I wish authors trusted us more to weed through the ratings and get what we need out of a review. I can tell when a reviewer is only negative or trying to take down an author. We can see that too. But they also seem to think anytime we are negative – it’s fun on our part or part of some great conspiracy. But no – we just are sharing our thoughts on a particular book.

    • I think it is still there. I will check this afternoon πŸ™‚

      I have found this whole thing fascinating. I don’t think we readers get enough credit for being able to wade through stuff and figure out what is legit (or not) ourselves πŸ™‚

      That second part actually kind of baffles me. I get there is a small percentage of the world that enjoys being negative but for most of us we would prefer to love everything we eat, watch, read, or buy. πŸ™‚

  12. I’ve seen where authors say that their books get more face time on Amazon when they reach 100 reviews. They don’t ask for all 5 star reviews just that if you read their book(s) to please leave a review (short or long).

    I don’t see 3 stars is bad. I rarely give 5 stars. Most of my reviews are 3 or 4 stars. Because I rarely read a book that couldn’t have been more awesome, even by my favorite authors. Most of the time it’s not their writing that could be more awesome but something with a character I didn’t like or something about the plot that bugged me or was too easy to figure out the “mystery” element of it. I still enjoyed the book. Lately my mood plays a big part in the rating of a book. I might rate it a 3 star today but if I read it yesterday or tomorrow it could be 2 stars or 5 stars.

    I think as long as your reading and being honest about how you felt/liked the book then it’s all good.

    • This all spanned off what happened to Blod last week. I was just curious why all the sudden authors/publishers were hating 3s since I have never ever felt bad about giving one. I probably still won’t but it has been fascinating learning all of this (from reader and author perspective)

      I totally agree about being honest. In the end, write the review you would want to read.

  13. Amazon is worried about the almighty buck which is why it thinks the way it thinks, it doesn’t realize the mind of a reader. Since I am one that looks at bad reviews as well as good ones when deciding about a book and I do actually check out the 3 stars because to me those are the people who are the most on the fence about it..they have good and bad feelings. πŸ™‚

    It’s interesting to know but it hasn’t changed my feeling about 3 stars either, but it does make me look at four stars a bit differently now. πŸ™

    • I just don’t think books are a high priority for them. I mean it is probably not much of money maker so why would they invest in a different rating system for it.

      That is what changed for me. Not that I looked on rating on Amazon for books very often but now I wonder how much that translates back to goodreads. Oh well–I will continue to read the actual review to get what they really felt out of it πŸ™‚

  14. Everyone is talking about 3 star ratings today LOL! I personally feel three stars is right in the middle of 5, so to me I take that literally and consider 3 star books “average.” I definitely shy away from books with lots of 3 star ratings.

    • It is a hot topic. Who would have thought 3s would be the center (see what I did there) of a big bruhahaha. It kind of cracks me up and at the same time makes me shake my head!

  15. Lol, I never thought about it like that. I would not want to buy a knife with 3 stars, but def a book. So yes there is something wrong there amazon!

    I also find it..well sort of amusing that my debated review would have been upgraded to a 4 on Amazon, but now she wont get it. HA πŸ˜‰

    Sigh, in the end ratings, sigh again. I read the actual reviews to make my mind up πŸ™‚