Originally Posted by Steven Lyle Jordan
You may be forgetting about the "blurbs," short quotes that often appear on the back or inside jacket of a book, usually penned by popular authors whom the publishers solicit directly. A single glowing sentence from a Stephen King can catapult a horror book from a lonely shelf right into a browser's basket faster than you can say "Kujo."
Those blurbs are as valuable in selling books to the public as independent reviews, mainly due to their direct association with known and popular authors and actual attachment to the product (unfortunate but true). It's incredibly transparent and obvious... but it works anyway, just as celebrity endorsements have "fooled" consumers since there have been advertisements; it is often a more powerful sales tool than independent reviews.
No, blurbs are something altogether different and quite acceptable - I have written many such endorsements for writers, but only if I have read and like the work. A review is supposed to be a genuine opinion by a person who is not allied with the author. I first looked at John Locke's work when he was initially touted as "the" Amazon success story. It was immediately apparent that the system was being gamed, his work was substandard yet rated (reviewed) much higher than better novels by other new independent authors. I have been following his "career" with interest.