Saturday, January 25, 2014

Books, Hotels, Restaurants, and a Favor to Ask

When Caryl and I began traveling twenty-plus years ago, we had very few options when it came to planning. Life is too short and money too tight to eat bad food or stay in crappy hotels. So about December of each year we would begin shopping, first for vacation spots and then for books about that spot.

The right travel guide (Mobil used to publish our favorite) could steer us toward fantastic restaurants, attractions, and hotels that fit our budget and our demographics. But today, fortunately, something far better than the Mobil Guide exists.

It's you. And you. And you. And you. All of you joining together through a variety of Internet sites and applications to express your opinions about everything from books to restaurants to doctors to handymen. Once our best option was looking at the opinions and evaluations of a few "experts" who wrote for Fodders and Consumer Reports and newspapers.

Now I can ask you - thousands and thousands of you - what you think of a certain book, travel destination, or restaurant. And, like the Olympics, I can throw out the high and low scores and come up with a pretty decent picture of what I'm going to get if I spend my money on this attraction or that hotel.

ReviewPush published an article in 2012 explaining point by point how and why online reviews are so important. You can read it here:

As the article points out, we are now blessed with the opportunity to hear from dozens, hundreds, or thousands of like-minded people on a variety of subjects for which we share a common interest. As we read the reviews, it is even possible to say, "Wow, this person was having a really bad day. I'm not sure I trust their opinion on that particular restaurant." On TripAdvisor, we can even read multiple reviews by the same person to see if they are easy or hard graders. (Since TripAdvisor almost always sends me to great restaurants, hotels, and attractions, I very seldom need to write bad reviews.)

The moral of the story is this: If you like (or dislike) something, your opinion matters. Those who have read The Ecuadorian Deception are probably tired of me asking them to post reviews on However, I know - and research validates - that book buyers are fiercely reliant on those reviews to help them make their purchases. I even heard one person, in discussing books, say he chose a particular novel because some of the reviewers claimed it had large amounts of gratuitous violence, sex, and bad language. This person, a doctor, said he liked that in a novel. (He may not enjoy The Ecuadorian Deception, by the way.)

That's not how I pick my books, but hey, it works for him. And it shows that even people with very different points of view can do you a great service in helping you make your next purchase. If you're not on sites like, you're missing out on a wonderful resource.

And, if you haven't written your review yet of the latest book you've read, it's time to get cracking at Enough said.

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