But I'm curious: does this work in particular cases? Has a bad review ever made you go out and buy a book?
I can think of two reasons (and a commentator on Twitter suggested a third) this might happen:
- the reviewer is obviously incompetent, tasteless and/or morally repugnant, to the degree that when s/he says, "This is the most boring/slow/pinko book I've ever read!" you realize this means it might have some depth/intelligence to it;
- the reviewer has some valid criticisms of the book, but despite (or because) of those you think you might like it anyway (this happened to me recently with some customer reviews on Amazon of Catherynne Valente's Palimpsest, where the most popular reviews are negative, but one complained about fluid sexuality, and another said the language was too poetic--both fine by me!);
- (@ferretthimself suggests) that books that provoke emotional reactions and strong opinions are likely to be more interesting, and therefore worth reading.
I'm looking for concrete examples, what books have you been out and bought (downloaded, borrowed from library, etc.) on the basis of a bad review or recommendation? Was it a good idea?