Bob Morris, who blogs on this site constantly, provides a wealth of information. Would you like to know why? Because he reads constantly — everything. He is a former award-winning teacher, a top-notch consultant, but maybe, most of all, he loves books. No — I mean really, really loves books. He loves to read, he loves to think, and he loves to share what he has read. And he is very, very good at it.
And it turns out that the world is changing because of people like Bob. Not long ago, Roger Ebert was named America’s best critic. And I fully agree with that designation for Mr. Ebert. (If you have not discovered Ebert’s blog, you are missing some of the best writing anywhere).
But in an article in today’s Washington Post, Click by Click, Reviewers Gain Clout, Mike Musgrove describes how the world of reviewers and critics is changing rapidly. It is moving from the “professional” critics, like Roger Ebert, to an ever-expanding group of people who just decided, “I could be a reviewer.” They may not get paid for it, but their clout is growing. The poster child in the article by Musgrove is Mark Espinosa, # 1 on the Amazon “New Reviewer List.” But he is a distant #311 (as of this hour) on the “Classical Reviewer List.” How does our Bob Morris rank? # 18 on the “New Reviewer List” and # 13 on the “Classical Reviewer List.” He has produced an astonishing 1909 reviews for Amazon.com, and that number will be obsolete in the blink of an eye. In addition, he writes for other outlets, he blogs for us, he blogs for other sites – he is a rapid producer of high quality content. And if you have been reading his entries, you know what I mean. He is curious, reads wisely, and draws from everywhere. (You can read Bob’s profile at Amazon.com here).
See — I told you that Bob Morris loves books.
But the reason for this post is not to just praise and thank Bob – it is to point out the trend. The Washington Post article describes the growing reach and clout of the “every-person” reviewer. Sometimes, it may just be a person with a passion. Other times, it may be a truly qualified academician with the training to write insightful reviews (like Bob). And, fitting with the predictions of The Wisdom of Crowds, the Amazon readers themselves decide who the most valuable reviewers are. (Bob has received: Total Helpful Votes: 24187 of 27206. I’m not fully sure how this works, but this means, I think, that 27,206 times, people have indicated the worth of his reviews, and 24,187 have given his reviews the equivalent of five stars – “yes, this was helpful.” That is an impressive endorsement from the wisdom of the crowds!).
How important are the Amazon reviews to the authors, (and to book sales)? “When you’ve got the power of a community behind a product, that’s more important than any one reviewer for a publication,” tech industry pundit Michael Gartenberg said. “Amazon reviews are very, very important.”
We see the fruit of Bob’s labor regularly on our blog. Because of Bob’s quality reviews, authors respect him, grant him reviews, and, expectedly, friendships are built. All of that becomes useful to us, the readers of this blog, as Bob shares his insights with all of us.
So, Bob, I vote your posts “helpful” and give you five stars. And the Washington Post simply confirmed what we all already knew.