Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Amazon’s Disappearing Book Reviews

Reviews are being removed by Amazon, who have altered their guidelines to exclude: Sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product (including reviews by publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product)

Apparently 'persons of interest' includes authors.

Don’t authors read? And do all authors personally know every other author –is that likely?  Of course not, so why are authors excluded from giving reviews?

A review I posted for ‘The Queen’s Secret’ a book by Victoria Lamb I posted in early October has been removed.  I bought this book at a writer’s conference, and the only ‘reward’ I got was the author signed it for me. I enjoyed the book so wrote a review, which appeared on the site – and now it has gone.

The only reward I have ever recieved for a review is a free copy of the book, often an ‘unedited’ version with a plain cover. I have been asked to review books by readers of the Historical Novel Review Blog, and Romantic Historical Lovers Review Blog, but these I have done for free, and voluntarily and if I didn’t like the book or felt I couldn’t offer an unbiased, positive comment – I declined.

I understand why Amazon want to stop fake reviews, or prevent family and friends posting five star reviews, but it's well known that the ‘Big 6’ actually hire reviewers, which may explain why certain bestselling authors will have 50, 5 star reviews on the day their latest novel is released.

For authors like myself, this could be disastrous as some book sites won’t advertise your book without a certain number of 4-5 star reviews. Also, if reviews can only be made on books bought online from Amazon, what about books given to you as a gift, or borrowed from a library? Why would it not be acceptable to post a review?  

So as an author, does this mean I can never post a book review unless I purchase them online at Amazon, and even then they may be removed as I have 'an interest'?

Here are a couple of blogs who discuss this - read them for yourself and see what you think:
To Become a Writer
Blogging Authors


N. Gemini Sasson said...

I'm sorry your review disappeared, Anita. This is so disheartening and frustrating. And it seems very arbitrary on Amazon's part as to which reviews they remove or let stand.

If I'm lucky, my newest release will have one or maybe two reviews before its first month is over. Meanwhile, on the day it went up I noticed dozens of books from major publishers on the Hot New Releases for the genre which already had scads of reviews - and many of these books had future publication dates, which means they weren't available for actual purchase yet. Self-published books cannot set up a pre-order page and thus cannot garner star ratings ahead of time; yet big publishers can, just as you said. A little lopsided, isn't it?

Mirella said...

I no longer use my own name as a reviewer on Amazon. I use one of my blogs. So far, I haven't found any missing.

I wish Amazon would focus more on nasty, poorly written reviews instead of quality reviews....

Carole Towriss said...

This has been the subject of many conversations in an author group I belong to. I know they are trying to avoid sock puppet reviews. but it's going too far. One well-known author heard from a reviewer that had a review taken down, and when she questioned it, she was told if she brought it up again, they would REMOVE THE BOOK! It's getting ridiculous.

Alison Stuart said...

It's another example of Amazon's high handed attitude.

As an author I have developed a bit of a policy of not reviewing books unless I genuinely adore them to pieces. Also if I do post a review on Amazon it is not as Alison Stuart so I don't know if Amazon would pick them up?

But this is censorship!

Diane Scott Lewis said...

Amazon is getting rediculous! If enough people complain, hopefully they will back down. I know one reviewer who should be removed because she's a publicist, and she couldn't have read all the books she's given five=star reviews to, but others should be left alone. Authors have author friends, and they should not be penalized.

Tara said...

So far, I don't think I've been affected by this, which is shocking as I publish and review under the same account. But then again, I have like over 400 book reviews on there so it would be hard to notice, but I agree. They've crossed a line. I understand not wanting fake reviews, but I have been reviewing books for 6 years, writing for 2. First and foremost, I'm a reader and I have my two cents, unbiased, I might add. I'm not sure how we can fight this.