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Topic: PBS Book Reviews - Vent and Pleading Request!

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Subject: PBS Book Reviews - Vent and Pleading Request!
Date Posted: 9/11/2008 11:54 PM ET
Member Since: 2/14/2007
Posts: 6,066
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It drives me bonkers when a book review outlines the entire story and gives away the plot and the ending!  That is not the point of a review!  This is not a book report!  Tell me whether you loved it, hated it or were indifferent, but don't ruin the book for anyone who hasn't read it!

Date Posted: 9/12/2008 12:19 AM ET
Member Since: 2/23/2008
Posts: 285
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I agree.  And I love your signature pictures - Go Dawgs!  =)

Date Posted: 9/12/2008 12:23 AM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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Well, now I'm worried about the reviews I've written.  I hope I haven't given away the story in mine.  I always hate it when I see that, too, but I want more than "loved it", Hate it", or "mediocre".  I do want to know what the general setting is and whether the plot holds together and if the characters are well done.   I like to know if there are maps if it is a journey or adventure story - as in science fiction or fantasy.  I like to know if the ends get tied up or are left dangling. 

what do you really want in a review?


Date Posted: 9/12/2008 6:08 AM ET
Member Since: 9/2/2006
Posts: 4,110
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I like a basic outline about the story, even if it is off the back of the book, but also add if you liked it, found it hard to finish, laughed your butt off etc.  If there are some surprises you can say so, just not what they are and if it is a mystery, or plot twisty type of book never, ever how it ends.  You can say it had a good or bad ending, if it left you hanging or satisfied.  You can comment on the writers style if it was exceptionally good or bad. 

Not everyone has the same opinions on books, but if I look at a few of yours, or see a lot of similar taste books on your shelf, you're review will carry weight with me, so I would want to know your thoughts not just the blurb from the back of the book.  Just copying off the back of the book with nothing else isn't the end of the world, but when all the reviewers do it for the same book it gets annoying.

Date Posted: 9/12/2008 8:22 AM ET
Member Since: 10/20/2007
Posts: 1,680
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I just read a review that I found very amusing.  The person did not like the book and pleaded with someone to take it off his shelf so he could "unload it".

Date Posted: 9/12/2008 8:27 AM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2007
Posts: 3,129
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Actually, copying off the back of the book is writing a book description, not a review.  I mark those with a thumbs down when I run across them.  If someone wants to use a line or two from the back or from the inside flap that's okay, as long as they put their personal comments in, too, as Tammy suggests.

Date Posted: 9/12/2008 11:01 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2006
Posts: 2,303
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I like when they include things I wish I'd known before I requested the book. Example: My husband lately has had a few books he objected to because of the amount of swearing. If someone had mentioned that in a review, I would not have requested it.

Date Posted: 9/12/2008 1:17 PM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 2,941
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Giving away the plot of the story is not only not the purpose of a review, it's also terribly inconsiderate IMO.  I think that, if the reviewing member's name is clickable, you could try sending a polite message asking that they edit their review to remove having given away the ending.  Or, if you don't feel comfortable I guess you could always try sending in Feedback about it by way of the Contact Us link.  Remember to include the ISBN so you can be sure they're checking the right book.

And whoever said that the back of the book doesn't belong in the review is correct;  the info on the back of the book is meant to be the Book Description in the listing.  Reviews that are book descriptions, contain a particular copy's condition ("no dust jacket") or simply describe the plot (especially giving away key plot elements) should be given a thumbs-down.  Reviews are meant to be a description of the impression the book made on the reader, as stated in the Help Center doc How do I provide/edit my review of a book?

(edited to add:  Dappledart, that's a valid point.  If you had found a review that said the amount of swearing bothered the reader, then that review would indeed have been helpful.)

Last Edited on: 9/12/08 1:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/12/2008 1:23 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2007
Posts: 8,139
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I give a thumbs-down to reviews that have big spoilers in them. It's not that I don't appreciate the effort of a plot summary, but to give away major plot twists and (in some cases) the ending, that's too far.

Now if I could only get rid of the spoilers in the book descriptions... :D

Date Posted: 9/12/2008 1:30 PM ET
Member Since: 1/9/2008
Posts: 239
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When I write reviews, I try my best not to do that. I'm always very careful about re-reading what I've written and making sure I didn't spoil anything. I never give away the ending, but I may comment on it, like "The ending gives an unexpected twist to the story".

And as for the book descriptions, they're helpful, but in my opinion, it's the lazy way of going about data editing. Might as well just become a volunteer in the data correction group and actually incorporate the description in the page; that's a lot more helpful.

Last Edited on: 9/12/08 1:31 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Sianeka - ,
Date Posted: 9/12/2008 2:23 PM ET
Member Since: 2/8/2007
Posts: 6,630
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Note to all, you do not need to be in the Data Correctors group to add a description to a book.  And adding it to a review is not the proper way to add it to the book!  Please click on the Edit Book Data link at the bottom of the page and add the description there, or click on More Options to the top right of the book details page and choose Edit Book Data link from there.  Anyone can submit a data edit if there are corrections to be made regarding a book.

Back of the book descriptions belong in the Book Description area, not in the reviews area!

Date Posted: 9/12/2008 2:36 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 66
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yes, i'm always very disappointed when i read the description, then look at the reviews to see what readers' opinions of the book might be, and then find that they have just copied the book description verbatim - pretty useless!  we really are all looking for some kind of opinion or insight into the book.

Judith L. (JML) - ,
Date Posted: 9/12/2008 4:50 PM ET
Member Since: 10/28/2005
Posts: 189
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yes, i'm always very disappointed when i read the description, then look at the reviews to see what readers' opinions of the book might be, and then find that they have just copied the book description verbatim ...

Sometimes that is there because the person wasn't able (in the past) or doesn't know how to submit a description for a book that doesn't have one.  Now you can just go to Edit Book Data at the bottom of the page and submit a description or a correction, and someone, maybe me, will update the book listing.

Date Posted: 9/12/2008 4:57 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,225
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When you come across books with the book description in the reviews and not in the description, take a minute to help fix the problem. I Copy (Ctrl-C) the book description from the person that has already typed it, then go into Edit Book Data and put the description in the right place(clean up typos!). Then give the review a thumbs down. The review will eventually get removed with enough thumbs down and you get the description into the right place so its not lost and have to be rekeyed. Then you've helped fix the problem that bugs you!

Date Posted: 9/13/2008 5:14 PM ET
Member Since: 7/20/2007
Posts: 1,046
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I write reviews that are long, but that hopefully have no spoilers. I don't consider a spoiler to be something you will read in the first 50 pages either. I never give away an ending, and i never give away big events (that i know of). I try to give a description that would make someone want to read it. I really dislike it when someone posts a review that says . "I liked it." WHY did they like it?

Date Posted: 9/13/2008 5:25 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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This is why I don't read reviews.  I had a whole series ruined for me once because reviews pointed out the death of major characters in 2 of the series books.  

Subject: D'oh...should've thought of that!
Date Posted: 9/13/2008 5:38 PM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 2,941
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Excellent suggestions Robin and Melanie.  I forgot all about stealing book descriptions from bad reviews lol.  I thought I'd add the http://www.paperbackswap.com/forum/topic.php?t=60867 to Sherry's post about book edits in case anyone was interested.  Like Robin said, you don't have to become a member of the team, but there are a lot (alright, almost all) of the best tips for editing book data :)

Last Edited on: 9/13/08 5:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 9/13/2008 6:01 PM ET
Member Since: 9/2/2006
Posts: 4,110
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Great tips!  The only reason I don't get mad at reviews with descriptions off the back of the book is because so many times that's the only place I can find it!  Now that I know I can edit the book data when that happens I surely will and thumb down any reviews with description only in them!


T. -
Date Posted: 9/13/2008 8:10 PM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2007
Posts: 9,989
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I LOVE reviews, but, like Mary, I have quit reading them before I read a book because too many people put too much information. 

Date Posted: 9/14/2008 8:56 PM ET
Member Since: 12/4/2005
Posts: 2,320
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I have put the back of the book summary on a few of my reviews as there was nothing there about the book to begin with.  I didn't even know until recently that any member could add those to the book description.  Do I really care if I get a "thumbs down" for that?  No, not one bit:lol:  At least there was some information about the content of the book that may be of use to someone.   

I would never give away any major plot points in a book but I am hit or miss with doing reviews anyway.   Some of mine have come out nice and seemed helpful and some, well, I guess I just wasn't in the right mindset to leave a useful one.   I've about given up on leaving them unless the book is truly outstanding or truly awful:lol: 

Date Posted: 9/15/2008 6:25 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2007
Posts: 3,326
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I'm with Cindy. If the review is word-for-word with the cover description, I give the review a thumbs down. If there are a bunch of them in a row all the same, I give them all thumbs down.

Date Posted: 9/16/2008 10:42 AM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
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Last Edited on: 6/9/10 3:40 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/16/2008 11:32 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2006
Posts: 2,303
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I have noticed that most of the "description reviews" that I've come across are a couple (or more) years old and assume they were pre-edit book data days. I am trying to remember (when I find them) to go to that person's profile, look at their other reviews, and help cleanup some of those. Nothing against the person who wrote them, just trying to help out.

Of course, I have also gone planned go to my own profile and check my own reviews to make sure they are not descriptions.  : D

Last Edited on: 9/16/08 11:37 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/16/2008 11:41 AM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2008
Posts: 242
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i usually do the one sentence review. :-) or maybe two if i'm feeling chatty. either it sucked, was great, recommend it. i don't ever give anything away.