You’ll be aware that we have an online shop, as well as totally-free-to-access websites like OnlineItalianClub.com and EasyItalianNews.com. The shop pays the bills for the free content. It’s a separate site, in part so people don’t get confused, and in part for technical reasons (the software setup varies, for example.)
And where there’s a shop, there are, sometimes ‘reviews’.
Most people don’t bother to leave a review, unfortunately, but the ones that do tend to be very, very positive, which (having an analytical mindset) worries me somewhat.
What if, I ask myself, all the people that hated our stuff chose not to leave a review, perhaps because they were so nice, and didn’t want to be unkind?
Worse, what if everyone else, seeing mostly five-star reviews on our lesson and ebook products, comes to the conclusion that I simply refuse to publish the negative ones, so can’t be trusted?
Either way, the whole reviews thing would be pointless, right? Personally, I ALWAYS read reviews before buying something from an unknown vendor, less so with people I already trust.
Anyway, that’s why I find myself rubbing my hands with glee when some ill-intentioned or careless buyer actually DOES leave a crappy review. “Whew!” I say to myself, “that’ll make all the five-star ones below look so much more credible!”
E poi, people reading a negative review are naturally going to be making judgements about whether there’s truth to it or not, weighing up whether there’s risk to buying the same product. Or perhaps they’re simply looking for information, or like reading reviews.
Whatever, the two-star reviewer writes something like, yes, well this was OK, I quite enjoyed it, but it’s way overpriced! How do you have the bare-faced cheek to charge people so much for what’s clearly so little? It’s a rip-off, and people should know!
Indeed they should, and will, as I NEVER screen out negative reviews and sometimes actively encourage people to leave them (as I’m doing now.) Got a grouch about something you downloaded free from our site, or actually parted with money for? Do, please, please, please, respond to our automated ‘please review’ email with said moan. Share!
I admit, I rarely resist the chance to reply. Sometimes I agree (the audio recording was not of the best quality, the glossaries included all the words I already knew but none of the words I didn’t). But often I point out that the buyer’s dissatisfaction would have been avoided had they taken the slightest trouble to evaluate what they were purchasing before doing so, for example by downloading the free sample chapter.
“The ebook’s SO SHORT no one in their right mind would call it a “book”!” writes the reviewer, and that is indeed true, but we didn’t, we called it an ebook. And you know what? Years back, wondering about this very same question (how long is a typical ebook?) I Googled it and concluded that ‘ebook’ is a synonym for some sort of text document, though obviously not a letter or a bank statement, something that is perhaps a guide to something (Italian grammar, perhaps) or narrates something (a story). There is no fixed length, though one would naturally expect more than a page or two.
How many pages? Well, if it were me, I’d download the free sample chapter (our Catalog page has free sample chapters for hundreds of different ebooks, just click to see). The free sample chapter contains the Contents page, and the Contents page shows how many pages long the e”book” is. Genius! There’s also the option to look at actual paper books that have the same purpose – university publishers such as CUP and OUP publish paper ‘easy readers’. Find their websites and check out the length. Theirs are short, too…
Oh, and about the price? “HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY CHARGE SO MUCH FOR SO LITTLE, etc.” Bullshit, obviously. The price is on the product page and in the catalog. If you’re pressed for cash, don’t buy. But more importantly, for those that do, consider what you’re getting IN TERMS OF LEARNING for your £7.99 (less when there’s an offer on).
An online lesson with one of our teachers cost £18 for 30-minutes, assuming you buy ten at once to get a discount, £14.40 with an additional 20% discount during our quartely promotions (the next sale is in Juy). Worth it? Not worth it? That’s for you to say.
An ebook at your level, text plus listening, written by an Italian teacher, edited by me, recorded by my wife, with a pretty cover, and comprising unlimited customer service until my patience runs out, costs perhaps half as much, but may take you a number of hours to read and listen to. If you choose wisely, then the learning value must be at least equivalent to what you’d get from the one-to-one lesson. That’s my opinion. If you don’t think so, well don’t buy.
But, you argue, it’s NOT A LESSON, IT’S A SO-CALLED ‘EBOOK’, SO SHOULD BE CHEAPER.
Why? ‘I promessi sposi’ is eight hundred pages long, is a classic, and is available totally free online in .pdf and other ebook formats. But if you wished, you could order it from a bookstore and pay £10 or £15, plus delivery, probably.
The price of something, whether it’s zero or absurdly high, need bear no relation whatsoever to any objective value. You can buy shoes for £10 or a £1000, they’re still shoes. The value, if there’s any, is in your head. Ditto with ‘I promessi sposi’. Get the whole eight hundred pages for free from the internet (good luck reading them…), or buy our VERY SHORT version for £7.99 (which should be a lot more manageable…)
In that second case, what you’re getting for your money is ‘learning material’, but what you’re paying for is your share of the time we spent reading the book, shortening and simplifying it, and putting it together in a format that can be sold to you.
“But why £7.99, not say £0.79? There are ebooks for £0.79 on Amazon!”, you respond. Indeed there are, but the people who sell them are either desperate or selling many thousands of copies, more likely the former. Go try to buy an ebook reader or Kindle version of a recently-published novel that you actually want, perhaps from a favourite author. Bet it’ll cost you basically the same as you’d pay if you bought a paper copy from a book store. Real world publishers have bills to pay, and that includes us.
Beh, as you can see, I can’t resist arguing back… My high school teachers pointed that out, and nothing’s changed since then. So the odd two-star review, as well as adding credibility to all the gushing ones, gives me a good chance to do so.
You can see the product review that provoked this diatribe here.
Oh, and while I’m on the subject of leaving reviews, back in the first lockdown I think it was, I modernised our shop sofware so that, fourteen days after you’ve downloaded something for free or bought something, it sends a single, polite email asking you to help us out by leaving a review, and giving instructions on how to so so.
The email looks something like this (though it may not display well here…)
We’d love to hear what you think!
Thanks for your recent purchase from EasyReaders.Org.
We’d be very grateful if you’d take a moment to tell us what you think of the ebooks or lessons.If you’ve never reviewed a product before, it’s easy and quick, promise!Leaving a ‘star-rating’ (1-5), and perhaps a brief comment, takes just seconds. Here are step-by-step instructions.To get started, just click on the product or products you’d like to give us feedback on:Thanks so much!DanielP.S. If you’ve not ready to do this yet, why not come back to this email later?
And guess what some people do when they get that email??
Instead of actually leaving a review, so that other people can make informed decisions on whether or not to buy (or download free in this case), they REPLY to the email, telling me that they liked the ebook/lessons etc. and will surely buy more, thanks so much, have a nice day.
Tuesday’s FREE bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news is waiting for you to read/listen to.
That site is funded by donations.
See who pays for eveyrone else’s learning!