By the time the Big 6 (now the Big 5) were forced to stop price-fixing, the average price of ebooks had decreased because of the influx of self-publishers and the willingness of readers to take a chance on these books. This trend was especially true in genre categories like romance and SFF. As a result, a $7.99 book not only looked awfully expensive to the average high-volume romance reader, it was competing with many lower-priced and even free books in the same genre.
–Dear Author’s “market for lemons”.
This article has some interesting points and is worth a read, even if you don’t agree with it (spoiler: I don’t).
One thing I will say: the author, Sunita, seems particularly aggrieved that Hugh Howey’s Wool has higher ratings than Ender’s Game and Neuromancer, amongst others. The point seems to be pearl-clutching over Amazon reviewers not reviewing as per some kind of Magical Objective Standard (of which, I assume, it’s implied Sunita agrees with).
Well, no shit. Welcome to the Really Real World.
Honestly, I don’t even think Amazon’s ratings scale pretends to be objective; IIRC, when you hover over the little stars they say things like “I liked this” and “I didn’t like this”, as opposed to “the technical execution of this objectively meets all scientifically determined criteria for 5-stars” (see Objective Game Reviews for a deconstruction about how ridiculous this argument can get, plus compare hotel star ratings, which, despite what most people assume, are mere tickboxes against criteria).
So, with that in mind, my theory on Ender’s Game is that it’s, yanno, written by a raging homophobe who actively serves on the board of a hate group, and that maybe–just maybe–some people rated the book poorly in reflection of that. Yanno. Like what happened on GoodReads.
Meanwhile, Neuromancer may have launched a genre, but it’s a genre that died almost as quickly as it was born. Cyberpunk was a product of its time, and its fading is generally attributed to the fact that, well. It just kinda stopped being all that fictitious. And in the most uncomfortable of ways; all that pollution and urban decay and pervasive mobile communications and oppressive corporate overlord stuff kinda, well, happened. Meaning, I think, that the tone of reading the genre for Kids These Days (or even Adults These Days Who Missed It The First Time ‘Round) has fallen victim to Seinfeld Is Unfunny. This is neither the book nor the author’s fault. But it is A Thing that, I’d argue, might contribute to its Amazon scores.
(Interestingly, cyberpunk has arguably had a bit of a revival as post-Hunger Games dystopian YA, but, as Tolkien is cliché, so does the point still stand.)
Personally speaking, no I didn’t go scour through the reviews before writing this post, so I might be totally off-base. I also haven’t personally read Wool, while Ender’s Game is the only novel I’ve ever thrown in the trash (well, enticed my husband to throw in the trash). And I never did manage to finish Neuromancer.
So take that all as you will, I guess.