As an update to my earlier post, Beware of Fake Book Reviews, here’s what Goodreads had to say about those one star ratings that sometimes show up even before books are published. (In my case, a one star rating popped up on The Beggar’s Opera before it was available even in galley form.)
“Goodreads policy actually allows users to rate a book as soon as it is listed on the site. While most users use the star-ratings to review a book, some like to use the rating system to indicate interest or excitement in an upcoming title. We view this as a valid use of the site. Please keep in mind that when users rate a book that has not yet come out, other users tend to take the rating with a grain of salt.”
So there you go. Anyone can post anything about a book on Goodreads, even if they couldn’t possibly have read it, good or bad. Caveat emptor.
Update: Here is a link to a discussion group on Goodreads from March, 2011, demonstrating that this is not an isolated event. http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/515626-posting-of-reviews-ratings-before-book-release