Isolating Legitimate Reviews for Amazon Books

In the last few months, two new websites have come online in an effort to weed out fake reviews and give buyers an honest view of products on Amazon. First on the scene was FakeSpot, which gives a letter grade summary based on analysis of the words used by reviewers, especially reused across multiple reviews by the same reviewer.

Today, I want to point you toward another free service that recently made a big splash, ReviewMeta. After releasing a video (below) explaining the unsurprising bias of reviews received for a discount (or for free), their site has stabilized and is now usable again.

One of the big features is an adjusted review, based on ReviewMeta filtering. It’s even available directly in your browser when viewing Amazon products, all via their extensions for Chrome and Firefox. I decided to put a book to the test that was new to the bestseller list (#13 at the time of this writing according to NovelRank Top Lists): Home by Harlan Coben. Putting it through ReviewSpot, they found the same rating (4.7), but based on only 4 legitimate reviews out of 18 possible. You can look further down the page for their breakdown of why, so I’ll save you from reading it here again.

So What Can This Do for Me?

First, it should discourage you, so you never use a website that offers to provide you reviews from real customers in exchange for freebies. Secondly, it should also reinforce the value of Verified Purchases when it comes to reviews (for more on this, see this fascinating breakdown of the release of Amy Schumer’s book).

High review counts & star ratings may get customers to click on your book in a search list, but only quality reviews will convert them into customers.

For publishers, before taking on an author you should run every book they self-published previously through this and know whether you’re dealing with a quality author or a charlatan. For authors, you should look at potential publishers before signing on the dotted line, ensuring they don’t use these practices with your books (and your reputation).

Feature image courtesy of ReviewMeta

Credit Marcelino Rapayla Jr CC:A

Improved Sales Rank Check Speed for

This is just a quick post that helps out the majority of users of NovelRank. I was able to request an increase to my API calls/hour with, meaning that within 1 hour I can make 10,800 API calls rather than 3,600 API calls. This means that (especially for books that have sold a copy in the last few days), sales rank data is being collected 100% faster than 3 months ago (~19/day vs ~9/day). That means that sales estimates will be more accurate moving forward (still underestimated for bestsellers) since the sales rank data it is based on will be more reliably captured.

One final note, some are turned off by the 100 book limit for user accounts, even for PRO accounts. The above is the reason this exists, because the more books in the system by a few individuals, the larger the slowdown they can have for everyone’s experience. NovelRank has always been about helping out the little guy authors, and that won’t change even if it means leaving money on the table.

As a reminder, PRO customers always get sales rank checks 23 of the 24 hours each day, among many other benefits.

Image credit: CC-A Marcelino Rapayla Jr.

50 Best Book Covers of 2014

The Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom RachmanThe Design Observer Group chooses the top 50 book covers each year, and 2014 was no exception. However, I wanted to put the covers to a vote by NovelRank users: authors, publishers, and book lovers. Out of the 50 book covers, ~40 were available on Amazon and were used for this experiment. There were at least 75 votes cast for each cover to generate the results, but first some qualifiers.

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Sales Rank Checking Scripts Updated for v4

This is just a quick update to let you know that the background checks that power the hourly data collection for NovelRank have been completely rewritten. While they have had improvements and tweaks over the last 6 years, this new design is leaps and bounds better since being rewritten.


  • Each domain runs its own independent script. Previously, only and were independent. This means no more books on say,, that are active but don’t have a new sales rank for days or weeks due to script inefficiency.
  • More books checked per hour. When NovelRank started, Amazon restricted API requests to a certain number per hour. Thus, NovelRank’s scripts were designed around that. Now, they are throttled based on API calls/second. Thus, the new scripts can slow down when Amazon asks, but otherwise make better use of every second in every hour to get sales rank data.
  • PRO user books every hour, on the hour. Previously, NovelRank put PRO books first as promised, however it would then run the rest of the books which sometimes took more than 1 hour to complete. It would not check PRO books again until that was done, so PRO books would be first, but still may miss an hour of sales rank data. Now, as soon as it is a new hour, PRO books are processed, pausing any current processing, ensuring hourly sales rank data at a consistent time of the hour, each hour.

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