Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised, but who’s got the motivation to place hostile or wildly favorable fake reviews on Amazon? Hillary Clinton’s latest, What Happened was published last Tuesday, and overnight more than 1,600 reviews had been posted on Amazon. The reviews were extremely polarized, about half panning it and half giving it 5 stars. While it is of course possible that these people all stayed up all night to read the book, the assumption is that they were motivated by the same sort of animus on display during our recent election. Amazon has decided to remove all the reviews, as presumptively “fictitious”, except for the 338 which were posted by Verified Purchasers, customers who had definitely bought the book at Amazon and so had at least paid for it. It is of course impossible to know whether these Verified Purchasers had actually read the book overnight. Slate (via Book Riot) reports on Amazon’s response.

Polarization seems to be our default mode nowadays. Even people who don’t hold extreme views seem to feel the need to express their moderation in extreme terms. I was chided just the other day for demanding death and destruction for those who don’t toe my mild liberal line.

I dare say a bunch of reviews, good or bad, is not going to make much difference to the sales of Secretary Clinton’s book. You’re not going to be reading it because critics say it’s well crafted literature (I’ve no idea whether it is or isn’t): you’re going to be reading it because you are interested in what she has to say by way of explanation for an election loss which many still find hard to believe. It’s the sort of book you order without thoughts of quality: you just want to know what it says. I’d be surprised (if it weren’t for this kerfuffle) if anyone would have bothered to look at the Amazon reviews. And, other than letting off steam, what do the reviewers think their reviews are going to achieve? Does anyone think that a single person is going to decide against buying the book because “Wrathful of Podunk” claims it’s no good? Or the opposite I guess goes for the Clintoniacs.

All publicity is good publicity.