Amazon Tightens Rules for Reviews
In past entries, I’ve mentioned about writing customer reviews for books on Amazon and other places. It’s a practice that I’ve encouraged you to do for books that you love and for your writer friends. Over the last few days, Amazon has changed the procedure for these reviews and greatly limited the opportunity for these reviews. I’ve emailed Amazon a note of protest but I doubt it will change anything.
I’ve blogged about Joel C. Rosenberg and his new book, The Copper Scroll. My review of the book appears on Faithful Reader.com. I read this book before it’s release and before Amazon allowed customer reviews of the book. Typically the customer review feature isn’t turned on until the publication date for the book. Last night, I went to the Amazon page and was going to post a few words about the book with a five star review. I couldn’t add my review. Why? I did not purchase my book through Amazon and they’ve restricted these customer reviews. The only way you can write a review is to purchase the book through Amazon.
I checked their guidelines and found:
Amazon.com wants your comments to be heard! The recommended review length is 75 to 300 words.
Authors, publishers, and readers have separate review mechanisms. Please use the appropriate page.
Who can write customer reviews? Customers! Anyone who has purchased items from Amazon.com and is in good standing in the Amazon.com community can write reviews.”
If you look at my Amazon reviews, you will see that I’ve written over 100 customer reviews—yet I purchased very few of these books directly from Amazon. This wide open door of opportunity for authors and publicists has slammed shut. For example, Faithful Reader and Book Reporter.com and other sites associated with this group, go to the particular page on Amazon and paste in the review. It’s been part of their efforts to promote good books yet with this new policy, these reviews will not be appearing on Amazon since the books come directly from the publisher—and are not purchased through Amazon.
Many books have no customer reviews. My Running On Ice by Vonetta Flowers with Whalin has one customer review—from my friend, Crystal Miller—and I suspect it will remain this way. Recently I wrote about Childproofing Your Marriage by Dr. Debbie Cherry. At the time, my review of Debbie’s book was the single customer review on the Amazon page (now there are two customer reviews).
From a policy viewpoint, I understand why Amazon has initiated this change. Over a year ago, a group who disagreed with the viewpoint in a book attacked one of my author friend’s book page on Amazon. This group posted all sorts of derogatory things in their customer reviews and the author worked with Amazon to remove these reviews. The new policy will greatly reduce these problems for Amazon customer service personnel.
While I understand the reasons for this change, it’s bad news for authors. They will not be able to encourage honest feedback about their book on the largest online bookstore on the planet. It’s bad news for publicists and publishers since they will not be able to use this avenue to promote a good book. It’s bad news for customers who read these reviews and make decisions every day about which books to purchase. It’s bad news for the book. I was sorry to see this policy change. I do purchase some books from Amazon but I receive books from many different places—including other authors and publishers. With this change, I will not be able to write a few sentences of review for Amazon.
OK, I stand corrected--things are not as bad as I proclaimed in these previous paragraphs. I had not purchased any books with the email address I was using with my Amazon profile. Thanks to Robin Lee Hatcher’s note to me. I went over to my Amazon account and purchased a book--then my ability to write reviews on any book have been restored. The entries on this blog are a work in progress—and this incident just proves my point.