Sunday, July 12, 2015

Authors & readers organize against Amazon’s “You Know The Author” review purges



Author Jas Ward has had enough! Her petition to make Amazon change its “You Know The Author” policy has over 11,000 supporters (as of July 10) and the numbers are rising. You can join the fight at change.org.

David Streitfeld drew attention to Amazon “review purges” back in 2012
in The New York Times:

Giving raves to family members is no longer acceptable. Neither is writers’ reviewing other writers. But showering five stars on a book you admittedly have not read is fine.

After several well-publicized cases involving writers buying or manipulating their reviews, Amazon is cracking down. Writers say thousands of reviews have been deleted from the shopping site in recent months.

Among the problems that led to this purge: Timothy Ferriss, “The 4-Hour Chef,” sent several hundred review copies to fans and potential fans and, using Twitter and Facebook, asked for reviews. Dozens were immediately posted on publication day, some of which acknowledged that the poster had not yet read the book. Amazon’s response was, according to Streitfeld, “We do not require people to have experienced the product in order to review.”

Then there was Harriet Klausner who had published an average of seven reviews a day for more than a decade, giving more than 99.9 percent of them four or five stars. “If I can make it past the first 50 pages, that means I like it, and so I review it,” she said.

Cracking down on that sort of things seems reasonable so far, right?

But, Amazon has escalated. Now it is searching social media for any connection between you and an author. If you have “friended” an author or “liked” his page or post, for example, your review of his book will be deleted, even if you’ve never met him. Instead, you’ll get a notice from Amazon that says:

Hello,

We removed your Customer Reviews because you know the author personally.

Due to the proprietary nature of our business, we do not provide detailed information on how we determine that accounts are related.

Indie author and book blogger Imy Santiago had such an experience:

‘A couple of weeks ago I read the third installment of a series I really loved. Like any reader, as soon as I finished reading, I wrote my review. When I tried posting it on Amazon I received a rather concerning email.’

The email told Santiago that she was ‘not eligible to review this product,’ which she challenged with Amazon’s customer service team, who she says told her: ‘We cannot post your customer review to the Amazon website because your account activity indicates that you know the author.’

Santiago says she has only interacted with the author in questions online and doesn’t know them personally, and writes: ‘It is censorship at its finest. I have interacted with a couple hundred authors over the past year; from events to signings, authors and writers rub elbows in networking sessions. This does NOT mean I know you personally.’ She adds that Amazon has ‘spat in the face of those authors and writers whose work deserves praise and recognition. (David Barnett, The Guardian, 7/9/15)

The petition posted by author Jas Ward asks Amazon to change its policy and reads, in pertinent part:

In the world where both Indie and Traditional authors are using all tools available to try to get their latest books out to the reader, it’s essential for the authors and their associates to use social media, i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

With that being said, a reader is therefore going to have cookies and data when they see that interaction and very likely would have LIKED and/or followed the author’s pages, profiles and other avenues being a fan of the author’s work. They are fans after all – they want to know what an author does and their current news and title releases.

Your current process of removing reviews that a reader has created to show their honest & sincere opinion on a book is not fair and cripples the review process more than assists.

In the days of the negative trend where those who wish an author harm are using reviews to hurt sales or the author’s confidence, this policy makes zero sense, as the individuals that are instructed or wish to harm are most likely NOT a fan and/or follower and therefore would most likely NOT to have as many cookies, data tracks as a good, loyal fan would.

…Therefore, we are asking that you consider all of the above and review your internal policy on tracking a reviewer’s history. It is not fair nor is it just and we the readers and authors and all-around lovers of books ask that it be stopped.

2 comments:

  1. I think that Amazon would want as many reviews as possible on the books they sell. Reviews sell books and Amazon is stepping on their own toes. If I buy a bottle of shampoo or a pair of shoes from Amazon I'm immediately bombarded with requests to review the product. Maybe since they are the #1 online retailer they have enough clout to make stupid rules. A few years ago they announced that a book could only be reviewed by a customer who purchased the book on Amazon. So if a fan buys a book in a book store or at a book launch or an author reading they would not be allowed to review it on Amazon. Unfortunately, many people read reviews before deciding to purchase a book or not. I'm with Jas Ward!

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