Sunday, November 04, 2012

Two Takes on Amazon Removing Reviews

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, I had heard that Amazon is removing reviews from their site on a fairly large scale. Author Joe Konrath discovered that some reviews he posted have also been removed, reviews he says are legitimate and have nothing to do with the sock puppetry that started this mess.

If you follow stories in the author/reviewing/publishing world, you’re likely familiar with the term, but for those who don’t know, sock puppets are authors who favorably review someone’s book in exchange for a good review of their own, among other things. Authors who’ve paid for reviews have also seen those reviews removed (this has been going on for some time). Also, as I wrote in a previous blog some authors have stooped to adopting fake identities to give themselves wonderful, 5-star reviews while trashing their competition. Honestly, it’s been a bit of a zoo in Amazon’s reviewing world, but as Konrath notes in his blog, legitimate reviewers are now being branded with the sock puppets.

Konrath wrote that Amazon’s decision to remove reviews was in response to a petition with four hundred signatures for the fake reviews to stop. Amazon listened and now, are arbitrarily (or so it seems to some) removing reviews they don’t think are legitimate. So, how do they define legitimate?

The response to Amazon’s review removal has prompted different takes on the issue and here are just two of them. First, Konrath doesn’t blame Amazon for taking these measures. As he wrote in a letter to Amazon, he still believes in the company for doing more to help authors than almost anyone else in the publishing world. He does, however, blame the petitioners. As Konrath notes, this won’t hurt him specifically as he still has thousands of posted reviews and book sales haven’t diminished. He acknowledges that this does hurt the small author who’s trying to get noticed and build a presence, and it will also make him choosier about the books he reviews in future. By the way, he has links to the sock puppet petitioners. To read more of his interesting blog, go to

A different viewpoint from Derek Blass clearly places the blame on Amazon, and comes in the form of his own petition demanding they stop arbitrarily removing reviews. His position is that this is move is hurting independently published authors and vulnerable booksellers. He’s also asking that Amazon produce clearer, more definitive guidelines regarding what reviewers can and cannot post. You can find his petition at

I’m not completely sure if Amazon’s decisions are arbitrary, as I’ve not heard any clear explanation about how they decide which reviews to remove. Clearly, sock puppetry sparked a lot of anger, and Amazon’s response has triggered more anger, but controversy is nothing new in the publishing world.

I’ve posted 184 reviews on Amazon. I’m not sure if any of them will be removed, but I’m not planning to spend time worrying about it. There are two many other reviewing opportunities on Goodreads and elsewhere, and there are far too many books to write to lose precious time worrying about Amazon’s latest moves, at least for now.

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