Amazon: a Solution to the Review Problem?

bw book pile

Perhaps, Amazon can be persuaded to do something positive for authors who provide it with a living?

The company currently has a policy preventing honest reviews from writers giving opinions on the books of other writers they may know. The whole policy is a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. It’s intended to prevent dishonest reviews of books by sockpuppets and others who develop aliases so they can produce positive reviews for their own books, or bad reviews for the books of other authors, using another name. Of course, we all want to stop such dishonest activity. But the process also stops honest reviews by honest reviewers.

A possible solution?

Amazon has the capability to develop a system to allow authors to give potential reviewers free copies of their books. The gift could easily be tagged and any subsequent review could then be listed under a heading to declare that it has been provided following the supply of a free book. That way, the reading public would always know that the book was a gift, that the review was by the person to whom the book was gifted, and that no money changed hands for the review. It shouldn’t be beyond the capacity of a giant like Amazon to institute such a scheme and it would go a long way toward solving this problem for authors and readers.

Worth a try? What do you think? Any holes in this proposal?

11 thoughts on “Amazon: a Solution to the Review Problem?

  1. Thanks, Jack. I was aware of the ‘advance’ publication option, but I thought the process didn’t allow for alterations during that period without potentially setting back the original publication date. If what you describe is the case, then it is obviously a great idea!
    As for those one-liners; I assumed they resulted from the commentators being given PDF copies or other MS copies prior to publication. I added such a comment to my Mystery Romance, Breaking Faith, on the occasion of a slight revision.
    Many thanks for this info, Jack. I shall bear it in mind for the future.


  2. Actually, Amazon requires that if you received a fee copy of a book, you need to state that in your review. Also, the a review is given for a book that was given free, or through Kindle Unlimited, it will not have the ‘verified purchase’ words next to the review. So, Amazon does have a way to tell if f a review is for a free book or not.

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    1. Thank you, Sahara. I was aware of these aspects, but they only partially address the real problem, that of the false names and the sockpuppets as well as the paid for reviews by large companies, which can hardly be considered totally unbiased, I think. My suggestion was an attempt to find a way of both permitting ‘friends’ to review books and prevent false reviews getting through. It wouldn’t be perfect (nothing is, of course), but it might address some of the issues that seem to concern Amazon at present.

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  3. I read an article recently that stated that Amazon’s review policy also resulted in more poor reviews being allowed through than higher ratings for books. As if only the five-star reviews were going to be the fake ones. I guess Amazon hasn’t heard of trolls? Also their criteria for deciding if you “know” the author was as thin as being connected through social media. If that’s the case none of your Twitter, Facebook or WP followers would be permitted to give a review! Is this your understanding of the new Amazon review policies?

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    1. I believe that is what they use as their determining factor. In fact, a couple of my writing friends have had all reviews written by ‘friends’, in reality social media connections, removed from the Amazon site. Contact with Amazon, explaining the reality of the situation made no difference, of course. The reviews stayed down.


  4. Maybe Stuart.

    Or, you could do what I’ve done for my latest ebook, by providing potential readers with the tried and tested method of old fashioned pre-publication publicity when they use Amazon’s ‘See Inside’ option, by asking some authors you trust, to read it and then write an attention grabber which I’ve deposited on the second page, with a link back to one of their books via their hyperlinked names, in fair exchange for them obliging me. Plus you can also deposit the attention grabbers as part of the book’s description using Amazon’s Author Central, minus the hyperlinks or course.

    Think about it…


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    1. Sounds like a great idea, Jack. But how do readers use the Amazon ‘See inside’ feature before the book is published? I’m missing something here, I think.


      1. As mister Alexander would say, Simples!

        It’s not exactly rocket science Stuart…

        When you add a new book to your list on Amazon you set the publishing date – yes? You can also take the option to have an advance ordering period prior to the publishing date so that folk can check it out and order a copy. This is also the time when you advertise it on your blog, Facebook,Twitter. etc,etc

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      2. It’s not that difficult to work out surely? Think advertising Stuart? We’ve all seen those one liner eye catchers on the front or back cover of a paperback. How do you think they happen?

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