On Credibility and That Book I Wrote, Which People Linked To

Anthony Kay, writing about my e-book Bartending:

Again, 10 bucks give or take isn’t going to break the bank, but when compared to other established tech blog authors like Patrick Rhone or Michael Lopp it’s a high price to pay for something so brief. But again I figured, it’s written by someone who was “on the inside” so it must be really good even if it is exceptionally brief, especially with all the glowing reviews it received, right?


Kay makes a point to say that he didn’t like my book. He thought it was too short and not deep enough. He says in his post that we had an email conversation, and I’m sure we did. I would have gladly refunded him his money if he had asked.

I’m fine with that. I really am. Kay probably isn’t reading this site anymore, and that’s fine, too.

What gets under my skin about his post is the sections in which he writes about people who linked to it from their sites or left good reviews of the book on Amazon:

It’s a given that many people tend to take high profile bloggers at their word and trust them when they recommend products, especially when the recommendation isn’t directly tied to site sponsorship. I felt that the bond of trust had been violated and that the significant difference between the collective reviews from these sites, and my experience as a customer, couldn’t be reconciled as a simple difference of opinion.


I found that the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth and put me off the author’s future work. But more than that, it made me question the credibility of the sites that wrote such glowing initial reviews about an inferior product. I was left wondering if this wasn’t a case of bloggers supporting one of their own rather than being honest and calling it like it is. Although there’s nothing wrong with being supportive when it’s warranted, if you ignore reality and deliver a false impression to your readers you aren’t doing yourself any favours, you’re just damaging your credibility as an author or blogger in the long term.

Guys like Shawn Blanc, Ben Brooks, Federico Viticci, Jim Dalrymple, Matthew Alexander, Joshua Schnell, Myke Hurley, Patrick Rhone and more linked to my book because they wanted to. Macworld magazine printed an excerpt of the book. Maybe we should all stop trusting them, too.

I asked that people be honest in their feedback, and as the book’s 3-star rating on Amazon will tell you, people were honest. Some agree with Kay that it was too short, or too expensive at first. That’s fair, and I understand it. But calling in to question the credibility of good writers is a step too far.

He closes his article with this:

And this brings us to the crux of the credibility issue as I see it. As tech blogs become more influential and replace traditional media, the writers (often individuals or small teams) need to be mindful that their suggestions and recommendations will be viewed by readers as a stamp of approval. Whether they post about a $1 app or a $10 book (many likely received for free), bloggers need to respect the fact that a recommendation to spend money on something will lead many to do so simply because they trust the site, the writer, or both. If it turns out that the product being purchased is junk, it will reflect badly on the site who recommended it, and over time their credibility will erode and readers will drift away.

I agree. I take what I link to and write about here at 512 Pixels very seriously. Every single tech blogger I know (and I know most of them) does the same. They don’t link to something just because one of their buddies did it. They link because they choose to do so.

Just because one guy hated my book doesn’t mean a whole slew of good writers should be thrown under the bus. Just because they disagree with this one blogger doesn’t make them liars or untrustworthy. No one that linked to the book would have done so if they didn’t like it. Kay’s simply drawn the wrong conclusion about these guys.

I usually avoid responding to trolls like this, but dragging good people’s names through the mud was too much for me to ignore. Even though Kay didn’t call me or my book out by name, I couldn’t not respond to his piece.