Tuesday, October 01, 2013

In Defense of 3/5

When, exactly, did 3/5 become a bad rating?

In stricty objective terms, three out of five is either above average or neutral.  If you were taking a test it would be a passing grade, if not necessary something to stick to the refridgerator door.

In terms of a book I have always taken it to mean "better than meh" or "I don't regret the time I spent reading this book". I would even go as fair as to suggest that it equates to "good" on a scale of bad, fair, good, very good and excellent. And lets be honest, it is a rare book that exceeds an average rating of 4 on GoodReads.

It may be overly fashionable to blame everything on Amazon, but I do not think that it helps that they not only list 3/5 under "negative reviews" but count them as such against vendors--leading some vendors to beg customers not to post less than 4 or 5 unless they want the company thrown off Amazon and flogged with razor wire into the bargain.

Everyone wants to write not just a good book, but an excellent one.  But at the end of the day shouldn't having written a good book be good enough?


Samson Ogola said...

While in most cases a rating of 4.5 would be considered ideal, I agree with you that a 3 isn't such a bad rating.. Needless to say, it is more than 50% endorsement from the reader.

Holley Trent said...

A 3 has always meant "I'd try another one of his/her books" for me, but I know for other readers, a 3 could most certainly mean "Meh." Sometimes, a 3 is merely "not right style for me," but it can be hard to compartmentalize those ratings - to separate out what's a style issue versus what's a story-telling/editing issue.

Anonymous said...

Readers differ, so not everyone will rate that "excellent" book 5/5, no matter what it is. Sure, 3/5 is a decent rating: the reader liked the book, or at least didn't much dislike it. For example, I recently read 4 of the 5 books in a series and rated them all 3/5 on GR: I liked and enjoyed each book enough to keep reading, and to read the next books in the series; I said as much in reviews. Nothing wrong with that. I bought 5 books from that author, and none of them were a waste of time--or I would have stopped reading!

Anonymous said...

I consider Amazon's attitude to be somewhat detached from reality. As far as a reading experience goes, 3 usually means "I enjoyed it and would read another if one appeared in front of me, even if I wouldn't go to any great effort to track it down." Which is far from a negative reaction, and quite often "if it appeared in front of me" is fairly literal, because there are a couple of authors whose titles appear regularly on the three for a fiver table in the bookshop I walk past on my way home, and I look for those authors if I happen to be in the shop, even if I wouldn't make a special trip to the shop (or Amazon) to do so. They mostly get rated at 3, because they're nothing special other than being pleasant comfort reads from authors I trust to provide me with exactly that.