This by Mike McIntyre (via Lindsay Buroker) is just spot on: "More than a quarter of Modern Library's 100 Best Novels have Amazon ratings of less than 4 stars." Among the under-4s are Ulysses and A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man by James Joyce, The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, and Tender is the Night, which happens to be my favorite book by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
It amuses me that if Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Joyce were still alive and wanted to run free promos, they'd need special dispensation to get shout outs from Pixel of Ink and Ereader News Today.
It amuses me much less, since I just put Trang into KDP Select and was hoping to promote its free days. What's especially annoying to me is that some of those places won't even let you buy advertising if your book is under four stars (or 4.2 stars--how they determined that was an acceptable level, I don't know).
And gee, yes, I am close to four stars, so I could just get a couple of my friends to give the book five stars and get over the hump that way, but no, no, no, I have to be ethical.
What was it Anne R. Allen said about combating paid reviews? Oh, yes:
Encourage review sites to change their policies if they require books to have a certain number of 4 and 5 star Amazon ratings to be featured. Sites like Pixel of Ink and Digital Book Today are great—but they insist on 10 four-or five-star Amazon reviews for a book to be considered for review. Not easy if you're a new writer launching a new book. Easy if you're a fat cat who uses a review mill. Because these ratings can now be purchased so easily, the arbitrary barriers do nothing but exclude new authors who don't cheat.