Someone on an email list posted a set of bizarre “reviews” for her book on B&N. I won’t link there because I don’t want to out her. Also I don’t need to in order to show you that B&N has an issue they need to investigate and clean up.
Check out this Google Search, This Google image search on the “Lienstar”. You see several book covers. I moused over a couple of rows of them, and they were ALL from Barnes & Noble.
Click on an image, and go to the website. You’ll end up at a book page like this one: This Random Book. Now scroll down through the reviews.
Here’s a screencap of a portion:
OK, so “Doomkit” is kind of odd. Google that and you end up at this DeviantArt site for Doomkit.
And here Warriorstakeall.deviantart.com Getting the picture?
Check out the last comment. Now Google “Lightening Clan.” After finding “Sea Breeze of the Lighting Clan” (also a cat) on DeviantArt I googled that phrase and ended up here: outbackclans.proboards.com
And, at last, Google “Warrior Cats roleplaying” and you end up at Warriorcatsrpg.com
Take all this together and you get a role playing game centered around warrior cats with players who are, rather not very nicely, abusing the B&N website by conducting their games via “reviews”
I’m sure it’s fun for them, but to be honest, authors and B&N are collateral damage. These don’t even rise to the level of “fake” reviews. They’re garbage reviews.
B&N, you’ve been gamed. Clean it up.
I want to add a couple of things to this post. The first is that I understand that the RPG is mostly played by kids and young adults. And I bet it’s fun. But the process of using a third party’s website as an extension of the game does impact authors as well as B&N. Some of those books have over a hundred reviews, but only the first few are legitimate. ALL of the rest are these RPG comments. Not all the comments are 5 stars. A fair number are 1 star. This means that book is unfairly up-ranked or down-ranked in the overall star rating. Suppose a potential buyer only sees the first few legitimate reviews and, further, sees 100+ reviews. I noted, by the way, that they appear to be choosing books that have at least one lengthy review — so that the garbage entries are hidden (as it were) below the fold. The reader will have a false sense of how popular the book is. And so would B&N.
Here’s another issue: What does this say about B&N network security that it is unable to see what has to be an unlikely set of circumstances: A book with a low sales ranking suddenly sees dozens and dozens of “reviews” in a short period of time WITHOUT an accompanying or preexisting rise in purchases. That, all by itself, ought to trigger a warning that the servers are seeing network activity that is highly suggestive of a hack.
Yet another issue: What does this say about B&N’s investment in their reputation?