Who are some of the most influential reviewers today? Mark Espinosa and Harriet Klausner. And, no, you aren’t supposed to have ever heard of them. For Sunday’s Washington Post, Mike Musgrove explores the culture of Amazon customer reviewers. This aspect of recommendations has, in many ways, replaced conventional criticism for many consumers. When you speak with many entertainment consumers these days, they often agree that a “star rating” or a positive customer review can make all the difference in whether or not they feel a product is for them. These avid online reviewers don’t get paid, but they are gathering impressive influence:
When Electronic Arts released a game last year with restrictive software controls dictating how many times a game could be installed on computers, Amazon customers flooded the game’s page with harsh reviews advising against a purchase. The company’s subsequent releases left out that offending bit of software. Earlier this year, a wireless router company was busted when offering to pay Amazon users for positive reviews.
More commonly, reviewers at the top of Amazon’s charts say they regularly hear from publishers and wannabe authors hoping for a positive word; some prolific or influential reviewers have personal Web sites detailing the books they’re interested in receiving from publishers.