October 26, 2021

Research Article: “A Comparison of Traditional Book Reviews and Amazon.com Book Reviews of Fiction Using a Content Analysis Approach”

The following article appears in the latest issue of Evidence Based Library and Information Practice.


A Comparison of Traditional Book Reviews and Amazon.com Book Reviews of Fiction Using a Content Analysis Approach


Christy Sich
Western University (Canada)


Evidenced Based Library and Information Practice
Vol. 12, No. 1 (2017)
doi: 10.18438/B8CW4N


Objective – This study compared the quality and helpfulness of traditional book review sources with the online user rating system in Amazon.com in order to determine if one mode is superior to the other and should be used by library selectors to assist in making purchasing decisions.

Methods – For this study, 228 reviews of 7 different novels were analyzed using a content analysis approach. Of these, 127 reviews came from traditional review sources and 101 reviews were published on Amazon.com.

Results – Using a checklist developed for this study, a significant difference in the quality of reviews was discovered. Reviews from traditional sources scored significantly higher than reviews from Amazon.com. The researcher also looked at review length. On average, Amazon.com reviews are shorter than reviews from traditional sources. Review rating—favourable, unfavourable, or mixed/neutral—also showed a lack of consistency between the two modes of reviews.

Conclusion – Although Amazon.com provides multiple reviews of a book on one convenient site, traditional sources of professionally written reviews would most likely save librarians more time in making purchasing decisions, given the higher quality of the review assessment.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.