Electronic Word-of-Mouth (eWOM) and Its Influence on Book Purchasing Decisions: A Study of the Anobii Digital Bookshelf

Electronic Word-of-Mouth (eWOM) and Its Influence on Book Purchasing Decisions: A Study of the Anobii Digital Bookshelf

Angela Lin (University of Sheffield, UK) and Jonathan Foster (University of Sheffield, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4082-5.ch009
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Electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) is playing an increasingly influential role in informing consumers’ purchasing decisions. Previously confined to seeking information from a small group of family and friends, consumers are now able via the Internet and social media, to draw on the contributions of a much larger group of other consumers. This chapter presents findings from a content analysis of a selection of book readers’ contributions to the Anobii Digital Bookshelf review site. The research questions guiding this analysis are: do online book reviews influence consumers’ book purchasing decisions? What conditions affect the influence of online book reviews? What are the consequences of online book reviews for consumers’ book purchasing decisions? The evidence from this study suggests that online book reviews play an influential role in the majority of Anobii members’ purchasing decisions; and that the opinions of other readers are sought primarily because of their perceived independence. Findings in relation to the informational and social attributes of book reviews, along with their framing are also presented. The chapter concludes with discussing the implications of the study for the implementation and use of eWOM, including the need to differentiate between different consumer types, being cognizant of the issue of source credibility, and the informational and social attributes that contribute to this, and of possible social and technological biases.
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What Is E-Wom?

The recommendations of others are an important source of information that consumers use to inform their purchasing decisions. These recommendations can be either commercially or socially motivated or relatively disinterested, neutral, and independent. While commercial recommendations are generated by organizations in order to raise awareness of a product and to stimulate purchase on the part of consumers, social recommendations or word-of-mouth (WOM) originate from within one’s own immediate social circle. In general, social recommendations are perceived to be more credible and trustworthy than commercial recommendations, and as such it is widely accepted that WOM plays an important role in shaping consumers’ attitudes towards a product. A final source of recommendations (e.g., consumer reports) can be categorized as neutral in the sense of their being generated by independent third parties who have neither a vested interest in product sales nor ties into a consumer’s social circle.

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