A Discussion On Book Rating Systems

This weekend I had an author contact me regarding my Amazon rating of her book. My review was favorable, I liked it and said so in my review and gave the book 3 stars, the same I gave on Goodreads as well as here on my blog. She pointed out that while the 3 star rating on Amazon means the book was “ok”, it hurts the books position and is considered negative.

I don’t normally rate books on Amazon as I would NEVER rely on them to provide me with a reliable recommendation. I only provide a review to Amazon as a courtesy for being provided a copy of the book for review and I was unaware that my rating would have a negative effect on a books standings.

In this case I was happy to change my rating. I enjoyed the book and certainly did not wish for the book to be perceived as anything negative. HOWEVER, this rating does not align with my own rating of books here on this blog. So, I thought this would be a great time to clarify rating systems on sites where I post book reviews.

1=I hate it
2=I don’t like it
3=It was OK
4=I like it
5=I love it

1-3 stars is considered negative on Amazon. I have a real problem with this as do many other reviewers out there. A web search turned up many, many discussion related to this. This rating system further reinforces my personal preference of not depending on Amazon’s reviews as a way to select book I want to read.


1=I didn’t like it
2=It was OK
3=I liked it
4=I really liked it
5=It was amazing

Goodreads offers a better alignment to what I feel is a fair rating system. Although considered flawed by many due to the inability to rate by 1/2 stars, this rating system is simple and straight forward. What I read largely depends on Goodreads reviews.

Lonely Owl Books

1=I disliked it so much, I couldn’t finish it
2=I finished it but didn’t like it and I would not recommend it to others.
3=I liked it. I’m glad I read it and would recommend it to others. It was a “good read”.
4=I really liked. It was so good, I would go back and read it again.
5=I loved it. This one will stay on my bookshelf forever. I would read it again and again. I would highly recommend to others.

Most of my reviews fall in the 3 category. I don’t give out 5 stars often. I save that rating for my most treasured reads. I don’t give out 1’s or 2’s very often either and, if I do, I feel very strongly about it. I love books and I have high standards on what a good book should be and I want to accurately share those thoughts with my readers.

I hope this post demystified some of the rating systems used by sites I post on and clarifies my personal rating system.


4 responses to “A Discussion On Book Rating Systems

  • Brittany

    Great post! I actually don’t agree with the Goodreads rating system (and oops, that’s not how I’ve been rating them on GR) – I agree with the Amazon scale! A 3 star rating is just an okay book to me.
    That’s a great point to bring up though. I guess I haven’t really considered how different people’s rating scales might be.

    • lonelyowlbooks

      Before this weekend, I didn’t really give it much thought myself. With Amazon, I just don’t think a 3 should be counted as bad. Here’s an example: I like green beans just fine, they’re good/okay (3), and I would tell anyone so, but I wouldn’t say I love them (4) or that they are amazing (5) and I certainly wouldn’t want to deter anyone from eating them. I guess I consider ok and good to be along the same line. A 4 seems to high to give a book that was good but not better than good. I expect a 4 to be one step up from good but not amazing like a 5. For me, it’s the same way with books. Hummm, why is it I relate anything to food? 🙂 Anyway, more choices like a 10 point scale may be a better way to go.

  • Adam

    I think almost all sites would be better served by allowing people to rate items with half stars. I use a 10 point system when I review books for my blog, and while the difference between a 6 and a 7 might not seem like much, it’s the difference between how likely I would be to suggest a book to someone. I consider a 7 to be a book that I enjoyed that I would suggest to most of the people I know who read, whereas a 6 is a book that I would only suggest in a limited circumstance.

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