Amazon has caused a firestorm in it’s controversial decision to remove all book reviews that are written by authors. Beginning with a post on Salon.Com by author Steve Weddle, the online retailer is pulling any reviews by Amazon authors where they deem the reviewer has a vested interest in the book being reviewed. From their official letters:
“We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product,” Amazon repeated. The company added a new closing: “We have removed your reviews as they are in violation of our guidelines. We will not be able to go into further detail about our research.”
This is apparently in response to the admission by author R.J. Ellory of writing bad reviews of competing author’s books using a pseudonym. Once this news became public, even Ellory’s positive reviews came under scrutiny. Although the author has apologized, the event has lead to numerous complaints, and is assumed to be the reason behind this latest effort by Amazon to have it’s reviews be “legitimate”.
Other authors are having reviews pulled as well, including J.A. Konrath, a bestselling author, and outspoken proponent of self-publishing. Since Weddle posted regarding the incident, he says more than twenty authors have emailed him to say their reviews have been taken down.
The reviews appearing on Amazon are generally quips, quick remarks and a few lines regarding a book, they are not usually “classic reviews” of the kind one might find in the New York Times or at NPR. Since it’s inception, friends have been giving author friends encouragement via reviews on the website.
It is unclear at this time, if other reviews will be pulled, or exactly what criteria Amazon is using to justify their actions. For now, many legitimate reviews are being purged along with reviews by friends, and other authors.