Over the last week or two, I have seen a number of posts looking at the systems we use to rate books the we read and review. Some of these posts have even questioned the relevance or importance of a rating compared with the opinion of the reviewer, their words and thoughts. To some extent I can see where this view point comes from. Everybody has a different set of interests, likes and dislikes. So the rating itself doesn’t necessarily matter as much as the critique we may write within the review.
Personally, I like a rating. I have used a 5 star system here on Books and Beyond Reviews. Why? Well, simply put, why not? The vast majority of eCommerce websites I visit use a classic 5 star method. As it goes without saying, I may understand the idea of not having a rating, but I far prefer having a rating on each review I give.
But is the 5 star approach the correct one for me? Well it was. Until I began to realise that not all 3 star books are equal. Or any star rating for that matter. Some 3 star books are better than 2, while others are not quite 4. So 3 seems right doesn’t it? Well, then the doubts set in – how can I justify the 3 star book that is better than a 2 star book is equal to the 3 star book that is not quite a 4 star book? I couldn’t, so I introduced what I thought was a fool proof system – half star increments between 1 and 5.
EUREKA! This was my bathtub thought moment. Or so I thought. But all this did was raised a further issue – I jumped from 5 possible ratings to 9 possible ratings. I found myself spending longer and longer deliberating over what score to assign a book than I did on the review. And it didn’t remove the issue of comparison with other books in the same bracket.
My other issue is that of perception. If I gave a book a 3 star rating, that wasn’t bad – that was an okay, fair book. Neither mind-blowingly amazing or tear-inducingly bad. But I worried what was in my head would not be perceived by the author. So I have decided to trial a new system. A simple three tier system – rate it, hate it or okay. What was a 1 or 2 star book will receive the “Not for me” rating, “Okay book” will be the equivalent of a 3 star book, and “Good Read” will be the equivalent of a 4 or 5 star book.
This will just be a trial, so please give me feedback on the new system, and look out for the following three new rating icons:
Please let me know your thoughts on the new rating system! If the trial goes well, I will back date it to all past reviews. I hope this makes things easier to suss out my overall feelings towards a book.