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.
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:
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.