I have read the review below by P. N. Payne about the paid reviews. Immediately, I checked on the "See All My Reviews" link for Herrington, Boudville, and Matlock. Here's what I found:
Herrington: Reviewed 20 books on March 8th (no exaggeration), ranging from "RFID Essentials" (whatever that means), "Web site Cookbook", "Open GL", to "Degunking Your Home". Suspiciously, almost all of these reviews got 5 stars, where the pros stated are almost identical to those stated by the publisher, and the cons are really funny ones, such as "I would have liked full color throughout".
W Boudville: Reviewed 15 books on March 15th, including "Nanoelectronics and Nanosystems : From Transistors to Molecular and Quantum Devices", "The Origins of Cauchy's Rigorous Calculus (Dover Books on Mathematics)", "The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors", "Natural Resources and Violent Conflict: Options and Actions", and of course "Computational Geometry in C (Cambridge Tracts in Theoretical Computer Science)". This guy usually gives all his books 4 starts. I think he's playing it safer than Herrington.
John Matlock: This guy reviewed 11 books on March 15th. Apparently, he read the "Handbook of Parallel Computing and Statistics", "Practical Poser 6", "The Rock from Mars : A Detective Story on Two Planets", "Carrara 5 Pro Handbook", "Beginning Visual C# 2005", "The Glorious Cause : The American Revolution, 1763-1789", and of course a book about marketing, seeing how marketing relates to the American revolution, C#, Carrara, Astronomy, Posing, and Statistics. Matlock opts for the 5 stars on all his reviews.
Now about this book, I'm buying it, because I read some excerpts in the library and I think it's great, not because of the rating of these guys. My 5 stars are given for the book, and the people who wrote the book, but certainly not for the publisher. Now I'm not against anyone making a quick buck, but I'm certainly against people getting paid for misleading others. I think Amazon has a real challenge over here:
1. Review their rating system, raising an alarm when someone has a way above normal number of reviews/day.
2. Dealing with unethical publishers encouraging and paying for this trash, and I think this is the hardest challenge for Amazon.
I just hope that Amazon is not aware of this, which I really find it hard to believe.