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Paid Book Reviews on Amazon? Yes, If You do the Paying

17 Apr

Once again, digressing from my original blogging plans and adding more and more to my nearly 200 drafts, this one needed to be spoken about.  Thanks to Michelle’s post, a reblog of the original post from Barb for bringing this to my attention.

Battle of Greeks and Amazons. Marble sarcophagus. Pio Clementino Museum; Octagonal Court. Vatican Museums.

Rarely do I bother with Amazon, only going there to add the odd book review but now it appears that that won’t be happening; unless I want to fork out £40 a calendar year for the .co.uk, or $50 minimum for the .com sites.  That’s what it takes to be eligible to give your opinion on books (or anything else you wish to review). It will go some way to stopping fake or biased reviews but will put off the honest reviewers but you can still post biased or fake reviews if you like but now you have to pay Amazon for it.  It renders the drive for honesty a bit pointless. Here’s the fine print from the .co.uk site in full:

Eligibility

To contribute to Community Features (for example, Customer Reviews, Customer Answers), you must have spent at least £40 on Amazon.co.uk using a valid payment card in the past 12 months. Promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the £40 minimum. You do not need to meet this requirement to post Customer Questions, create or modify Profile pages, Lists, or Registries, or to read content posted by other customers.

We’re all familiar with the mix of reviews on the site, from the one star one, one word review, or the one blaming the supplier. The badly written rant that just attacks the author or makes clear to the reader they haven’t read or understood the book; and then at the other end of the scale the blatantly biased and/or overly gushing writes ups.  Rare is the well written, thoughtful review, with which to base your buying on and now it will be as rare as a coelacanth in Slough bus station.

I understand Amazon’s desire to make the site more informative but when that comes with a demand to buy from them, it somewhat undermines their noble crusade.  It’s pretty counterproductive to put profits before all else including your own customers, when they are the people who decide if they give you their money.  Authors will see a drop in reviews, as the ones who take the time to read (and purchase the books) will be less inclined to meet Amazon’s demands for money just to see their words posted.  That will impact profit for all, which is good for nobody. The blogger’s reach will also be shortened by the new measures and perhaps even their access to the ARCs themselves. Or maybe not.

Hopefully this will push more people further afield of the big sites, in search of fair and honest reviews and perhaps they will find our blogs and swell our hit rate, thus taking more traffic off Amazon and pushing authors towards unbiased blogs more.  I always find the traditional word of mouth discovery much more exciting than coming across something through the business model of paying to have a book featured as book of the week or what have you.  Unsurprisingly they are almost always ignored as much as possible by this reader, unless a fellow blogger convinces me of their worth.

The reasoning behind this move will probably never be referred to unless enough people talk about it and in traditional fashion, mock it.  Sadly my words won’t be counting over there because I will never meet the minimum Amazon spend,choosing to buy from real bookshops pretty much all of the time. Support your local business folks because if they go under, we will have little choice but to buy from Amazon.

I would be interested to know how you authors feel and if it will tighten your ties with book blogs? I’m asking for a reviewer friend, honest.

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14 Comments

Posted by on 17/04/2018 in Blogging, My Writings

 

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14 responses to “Paid Book Reviews on Amazon? Yes, If You do the Paying

  1. Liz Dexter

    17/04/2018 at 17:51

    Hm, interesting. I probably do spend that much with Amazon (does it have to be on books) esp as we have a household Prime account. Having said that, I buy a lot of running stuff from them and the books I buy tend to be second-hand which will probably manage not to count in some way. Don’t hate me for shopping there, please! I do shop in independent stores, we buy eggs from local hens, etc.

    As an author, I don’t get many reviews anyway but I have only once seen an independent blog review of one of my books and there are a couple of reviews on Goodreads, that’s it. So great, if only people bothered reviewing them at all. I do have reviews on Amazon, most of which are actually pretty full and useful, probably because it’s non-fiction (maybe).

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Ste J

      17/04/2018 at 18:12

      There are reports of some people having all their reviews pulled from the site so it is a worrying time all round. I think Goodreads is what people will probably turn to, it seems popular and easy to work with. It does seem a weird way to combat fake book reviews though as well a alienate the people that take the time to write reviews.

      I don’t have a problem with people shopping at Amazon, its when people use it to the detriment of local businesses, it’s cheap and all but has little other than that to recommend it and now there is, what is essentially a ‘season pass’ price that I must pay if I wish to help others make an informed choice through my own experiences. I think I will use my money to help a firm that pays its taxes.

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  2. macjam47

    17/04/2018 at 19:58

    Thanks for the pingback, Steve. I know a lot of people shared Barb’s post, so hopefully, the word will keep spreading.
    Goodreads is a great site, but the average readers don’t know about it. They go to Amazon to read the reviews before they purchase a book.

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    • Ste J

      17/04/2018 at 21:13

      Amazon is a strange one as more of the reviews seem unhelpful these days. Amazon would be better off policing what they actually allow on there, with all the one word ‘reviews’ and such. The only review sites I go on with regularity are my fellow blogger’s sites, it really is the way forward.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • macjam47

        17/04/2018 at 21:18

        For us, yes, but many readers are unaware of the blogs, so Amazon is their “go-to.”

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        • Ste J

          17/04/2018 at 21:29

          I wonder then if some of the fault is ours for not being proactive enough in encouraging people. Recently I have had a lot of views coming from Facebook but I think this is more for the travel posts I have been doing. Perhaps if I knew more bookish people it would be easier.

          Liked by 1 person

           
          • macjam47

            18/04/2018 at 07:16

            I think we all need to constantly remind our friends via social media to leave reviews of any book they read on Amazon and, if they are on Goodreads, there too.

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            • Ste J

              20/04/2018 at 07:59

              Yes, very muchawesome so. Homesteads looks like the way to go unless a regular spender on Amazon. Reviewers without a blog can guest post for us bloggers too!

              Liked by 1 person

               
  3. shadowoperator

    17/04/2018 at 21:36

    Dear Steve, About a year ago, a translator asked me to do a review of a book by a writer and another translator friend of hers. It was posted on a consortium platform of publishers and reviewers called NetGalley.com. They had links to Amazon.com, Amazon.uk, Twitter, Facebook, and I also put it up on my own site. Rather than use their links to the other sites, for security reasons I put the review up independently on the other sites (except Facebook, which I don’t use). It didn’t cost me anything at Amazon.com or Amazon.uk, they seemed eager to receive it. It’s a long review, under my own name, and for all I know it’s still there. It’s a review of the book “Desert Flowers” by Paul Pen and translated by Simon Bruni. If they are now charging for interviews (when in actual fact for serious reviewers they should be offering store credit or payment themselves!), then something has changed.

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    • Ste J

      17/04/2018 at 21:49

      Your review is there still, I remembered the book cover from your post as soon as it came up on Amazon’s search page. A tiered system for reviewers would be interesting but probably unworkable in terms of keeping up to date with it. Amazon just wish to keep us all buying from them but it seems the review sections will be taking a hit which is a huge shame for authors, especially independents.

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  4. Jill Weatherholt

    18/04/2018 at 05:30

    I know a lot of book reviewers who’ve had their reviews pulled from Amazon. It’s just not right.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Ste J

      20/04/2018 at 08:00

      It’s a strange choice, especially when one word reviews are fine of.You.spend so much on Amazon but a well reasoned, thorough review is discarded. I’m sure authors and artists won’t be happy with that.

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  5. Sheila

    20/04/2018 at 23:35

    That’s awful, especially when authors need as many reviews as possible before there’s any chance of Amazon promoting the book. This will just make it more difficult for indie authors to get the word out, when it was already practically impossible.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Ste J

      21/04/2018 at 09:12

      Bloggers can fill in the gap, methinks. Although I am.a bit biased in that regard.

      Liked by 1 person

       

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