The “Amazon Breast Curve”

Interesting article on Salon today about the overall shape of Amazon reviews suggests that the more the horizontal star-rating graph looks like boobs, the more reliable the ratings are – with more five and one stars and fewer threes. That kind of goes along with my intuition that the more a book that reaches a broader audience the more likely it is to have a wider range of reactions.

I guess that’s common sense, but on the other hand, if you’re looking at a straight genre book this doesn’t hold up. Romance readers know a good romance book and only romance readers are likely to review romance books. In cases like that, you want to see a lot of fours and fives, no curves.

6 thoughts on “The “Amazon Breast Curve”

  1. I got killed in reviews written by middle aged women reading a book for teen boys. I think the wider the audience, the greater the spread on the reviews. I’ve had lots of people give me great feedback and who liked the book but don’t have an Amazon account to post a review (most teens don’t have their own accounts). Amazon can be very misleading.


    • True dat. Also, for self-publishers, once you get past the ‘needle in the haystack’ problem and get noticed at all, the next hurdle is volume – sample size is maybe the most important factor in ratings. I don’t know what the magic number is where you can start to believe in them. Thousands is great, of course, but what do you think a minimum believable sample size might be? I’m thinking it might take quite a while for most of us to get to that point.


      • It’s mostly a moot point. Most books won’t sell enough to generate a large enough sample size where there are enough reviews to judge. And I’m seeing cases where a publisher and author swamp the reviews with friends, relatives, and other authors. I recently saw a new release(out less than a month) with 15, five star reviews. That’s ridiculous! I’d be happy if Amazon did away with reviews. It’s more about gaming than reality.


      • If they just did away with stars, that would kill it off. I’m so curious to see what will become of all that in the long run. Everything about the internet is subject to enormous changes all the time :}


  2. When I’m reading reviews for a book, I’ll usually read one or two 5 stars, and then one or two 1 stars. What I’m usually looking for is A) writing skill, and B) details. For example, if the 1 star reads like this: “this book sux so much its lame y even did i buy it such a wast of $$ fml”, I will conclude that A) the person is an idiot, and B) my reading tastes will definitely differ from theirs. So I figure the distribution of reviews between 1-5 stars isn’t really as important as the actual content of the reviews.


    • I agree. Lately I’ve been thinking that the whole ‘stars’ thing is the real problem. Would authors even pay for reviews if there were no stars attached, and people had to actually read the reviews? I’m trying more and more lately to ignore the stars, but they’re so compelling! You can’t help but notice them. It’s EVIL! :}


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