One-worders

Does anyone care about one-word reviews on book covers, posters and ads?

‘Exceptional’, ‘breathtaking’, ‘triumphant’, ‘a masterpiece’. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

My guess is that most people don’t. In a perverse enaction of the Dunning–Kruger effect, I’d say that most people can read between the lines and can see that an ad for a book or a movie would never feature an unfavourable review, a star out of five. That you’ll always find at least one decent reviewer favourable to any book, movie or music album. 

So why bother? Why bother plastering the ads with commandos of five stars when we really know that’s advertising pure and simple? Why bother with psychological pricing when we know what really lies behind the scenes?

I have another idea.

Instead of indulging in silly self-praise, why not collect the worst reviews ever written for a given title and put those on the ad? Stars and one-word encomia are about ranking. May the least scathingly-reviewed book win. May the least mordaciously-censured movie carry the day. Even though one-worders are corner-cutters, they should at least be honest. That’s the worst the reviewers have written about my book – it should be on your list. Come watch this movie, the nastiest review I’ve found is not that bad.

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