ObamaThis isn’t a review of the now-legendary e-single per se; it’s more along the lines of an observation about it, and the situation surrounding it.

First, a few comments about the e-single: There’s nothing earth shattering in it, and I wasn’t expecting anything. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed reading what the President had to say about the economy. I thought his statistic regarding the average student debt being about $100K summed up a big part of what’s wrong with the current economy.

He was respectful in his criticism of his Republican adversaries, but that’s been my observation of President Obama from the beginning.

ObamaI admit that I’m basically a supporter of the President. As a moderate independent voter, I felt the interview was aimed at me to ensure my continued support of him and his policies. He had it before. Nothing here changed my mind one way or the other.

There’s no question that conservatives would take issue with his points, and I spent several amused minutes glancing through the comments on the book. When I last looked, there were 700 reviews, averaging 3 stars. You can guess the politics of who rated it as a “1” and who rated it as a “5.” More interesting than the reviews were the ratings of “Helpful” or not.

Within minutes of my review (5 stars) going live, someone clicked it as Helpful. And 4 people clicked it as Unhelpful. I noticed a trend of about 1:4 on many 4 and 5 star reviews. Ironically, however, looking at the 1 star reviews, there were hundreds of “Helpful” ratings. And a smattering of “Unhelpful.”

It kind of looked like the angry people were trying to make up for the fact that they could only leave one review by rating other reviews. Although only about four people were persistent about downgrading the good reviews. An odd bit of herd mentality at work there.

To compare, I looked at other books, and my other reviews. The numbers are definitely not the norm for books, and I received more “Unhelpful” ratings for this item than for any other single item. In fact, there were as many on this item as for all my other reviews put together. Should I feel singled out? 😉

I did find an interesting New York Post article that referenced the project. Let me rephrase that: The headline was interesting. “How Kindle $parked Bam: Amazon employees gave Obama $116,000 before exclusive interview.” Technically true, but highly misleading, as you discover when you read the subhead: “Amazon’s staff gave 116G to campaign.” The headline certainly make it look like Amazon paid $116K for the interview, which wasn’t actually the case. If they had, that would have been a good story.

What’s most interesting about this book is how unsurprising it was and how predictable the reaction to it. At least it’s free?

(If any of our readers have finished the interview, we’d love to know what you thought; leave your opinion in the comments below.)


  1. You’ve raised an important question here. On the one hand, there are so many attempts to draw upon the “wisdom” of crowds and on the other hand, there are a substantial number of people trying to “game” the system or gain disproportionate influence. Writing a letter to the editor that might or might not be published use to be a barrier. No more. We seem to have created a tower of babble.

  2. @Frank, I’m going to have to agree with you on this. I’m semi-following (and occasionally voting on) an online poll, and the gamesmanship being done on it completely invalidates it as a crowd-sourced indication of anything. I see a similar attitude in so many other areas.

    At least the frantic rate of reviewing seems to have dropped off. Up to 837 (adding 137 in two days) now. Still at 3 stars.

  3. Oh, and 3 more people have indicated my review was “unhelpful.” With only one more considering it helpful. I really might have to be offended now. 😉 Or strangely honored. Someone had to really scroll back to find mine. Lives, people?

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