Friday, January 16, 2015

Rating Systems -- Amazon vs Goodreads

Having now been a published author for two months, I've noticed something for the first time that I hadn't noticed before on two sites that I have used for many years. Amazon and Goodreads both use a five-star system for customers to give ratings to books (or other items in Amazon's case), but the levels are different. And this is really depressing for me!

If someone wants to rate a book as 'it was okay', on Amazon it gets three stars while on Goodreads only two. If you want to rate a book as 'I liked it', it's four stars on Amazon and only three on Goodreads. Thus on average books get a whole star less on Goodreads than on Amazon. This may seem petty, but it honestly gets a tad bit depressing to keep seeing three star reviews on Goodreads when you only get better ratings on Amazon. Considering that Amazon owns Goodreads now, I wish they would align their rating systems to make them consistent!


  1. I'd heard that. And you're right, it does make a difference. I just checked - my first book is 3.92 on Goodreads and 4.1 on Amazon.
    I actually wish they would go to ten stars. There are times I want to rate a book just a bit higher or lower and there's no way to give half a star.

    1. I agree. When I do my annual roundup of reads, I use half stars, because there isn't enough delineation between quality of reads with only five stars.

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  3. As a recent reviewer (I have only started to dabble with reviews in the past year) I do find the difference in scales and lack of standardisation very frustrating.

    However, I find that Goodreads is actually skewed towards rating books which are good, whilst Amazon does not give you the opportunity to distinguish between a very good book and an amazing one, thus forcing all reviews to be higher (seriously, if you do not like a book, do you really need a distinction between "I hated it" and "I did not like it"? - other than to make matters personal which leads to author-reviewers wars!)
    I suppose this looks better from a sales perspective, as it is easy for people to assume that 3 stars is a good item, when in fact, it is only OK.

    I am not sure if I am making any sense... I think it is more obvious when seen side by side...
    ...........................Amazon Goodreads
    I hated it..............1 star .......... (N/A)
    I did not like it...... 2 stars..........1 star
    It was OK.............3 stars..........2 stars
    I liked it................4 stars..........3 stars
    I really liked it.......5 stars..........4 stars
    I loved it...............(N/A).............5 stars

    Goodsreads employ a more positive scale. 2 stars is not a bad/negative rating at all.

    Having said that, I still find the Goodreads system too restrictive, as, for example, I often find that a book was better than OK but I could not say that I completely liked it. And similar.

    Booklikes allows half marks (effectively a 1-10 scale). Realistically I would never use 1.5 stars (as I said, I cannot possibly put a scale on how much I did not like something - I find that insulting), but I would want to use everything in between in order to give a piece of work better credit and more accurate feedback (in my opinion 4 to 5 stars should be awarded to truly special pieces of work. These marks should be the exception, not the norm).
    However, the problem with Booklikes is that they do not define the rating system, hence it is up to each individual to make up their own, thus once again creating inconsistent ratings.

    It is very frustrating.
    I have been trying to put together a 10 steps rating system based on the Goodreads one, but have been struggling wording it!

    1. I completely agree with you. I only wish that Amazon and Goodreads would use the same scale so that you don't feel so terrible getting what looks and feels like a lower rating on Goodreads. I also agree it would be nice to have a ten point scale so that we could have more nuance in our ratings. Thanks for your comment!