On said book, a reviewer going by the moniker “Biology Book Worm” had posted a one-star review indicating that some facts were incorrect. Joe Nobody had replied, intending to straighten out the reviewer’s misapprehensions, but ended up getting into an argument. The reviewer also expressed the belief that some of the five-star reviews that had “tricked” him into buying the book were sock puppets for Nobody himself.
In the end, Joe Nobody felt he felt he could prove he owed a $23,000 drop in sales to that review (given that, as the voted “most helpful” review, it ended up at the top of his reviews list), and was wondering about the feasibility of suing the reviewer (who, he had determined, was “a 23 year-old recent college graduate who never severed (sic) anything but a hamburger”). He posted to KBoards wondering whether he should consider suing. (The article includes a screencap of the original post; the thread itself seems to have been deleted from the site or otherwise protected from casual viewing even from someone with a KBoards account.)
Strandberg suggests that it’s more likely that drop in sales could be attributed to Nobody showing a fairly ugly side of himself in arguing with the reviewer. Seriously, that’s something you don’t ever want to do; when you get down in the mud with someone like that, you end up getting more mud on you than him. Strandberg points out that engaging with negative reviewers is almost always a big mistake.
First, that reviewer doesn’t care about you. Second, anyone who wants to buy your book can read those comments. I’m willing to bet a large chunk of that $23,000 Joe Nobody is pissing and moaning about was lost due to his own misguided comments.
The idea of suing over a bad review is frankly ridiculous, For one thing, the lawyer fees would eat up that $23,000 in about fifteen minutes. Even if he won the suit, he’d never see the $23,000, let alone compensation for his legal fees—where’s a 23-year-old college grad going to get that kind of money? It would be purely an exercise in dumping money down the drain in order to assuage his own ego, while driving someone who had the temerity to post a bad review into dire financial straits for life. (And that’s assuming that he won, which is not exactly assured.)
Link to the rest at TeleRead
PG will add that the process of proving damages in a lawsuit is way more complex than saying, “This person did this, then I lost money.”
As far as suing someone who wrote a bad review, doing so will guarantee the widest possible exposure for the contents of the bad review. Plus a lot of people who think the suit is a bad idea will create additional one-star reviews of a great many of the author’s books with nasty comments. And somebody else will start an online campaign to boycott the author’s books.
And no author, no matter how wealthy, can sue the whole online world.