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Is Amazon Getting Heavy-Handed With Book Reviews?

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by Ankari, Oct 20, 2012.

  1. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    I stumbled across this blog post. The author states that legitimate reviews are being deleted. Follow up by the reviewer earned a threat to remove the author's book. What do you think?
     
  2. writeshiek33

    writeshiek33 Sage

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    does not make any sense at all, really scary whats the point of asking to leave a review if it does not appear
     
  3. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

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    This to me suggests that someone has run afoul of some automated systems. After the sock puppet scandal, Amazon clearly wants to be seen to be doing something about fake reviews. They have therefore changed/increased their contingencies against fake reviews. That's pretty legitimate really, I'm sure we can all agree.

    The problem is then, that a piece of automation has mistakenly flagged the posts in question and chosen to do something about it. When the reviewer complaned company policy must be to treat the case as you see it. Some body complaining multiple times about a review that was flagged as suspicious? Well you can see how the employee might be tempted to shut the conversation down based on that information alone. If it looks dodgy, it probably is.

    All in all, someone went a bit overboard. We should really demand more transparency from Amazon (It's public company right? Shareholders at AGMs.. 'nuff said.) Alternatively, we should read the T&Cs because inveriably that'll be the next thing people are directed to: "It clear states blahblahblah... no liability blahblah."

    If I can get ebooks directly from the author I tend to (money goes--more or less--straight to them and not through a profit making company). If that's not possible then I'll head to Amazon. Forgive me, but I have a Kindle you know ;) haha Otherwise, it's off to the good old fashioned book shop for me!

    But in the light of this, I'm going to stop buying from them and do a bit more digging.

    I'm not interested in buying from a company who deletes review as suspicious for no good reason. It also seemed that authors reviewing authors might be a risk... well, yeah, that's not on.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2012
  4. Chime85

    Chime85 Sage

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    That makes no sense at all. As writeshiek stated, what's the point in writing a review if it doesn't appear. I understand the recent debacle regarding the recent news of some writers, but that should not impact on honest reviewers. I think Amazon have swung too far in the other direction with this.

    x
     
  5. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    That's nuts! I've heard this happened a lot (the deleting of reviews, not the deleting of a book) after so many people have had trouble with this in the last few years, but I was under the impression that Amazon was improving here, not getting worse. I was also surprised to read about a supposedly "good" author that faked reviews. What is the point of such tactics? With authors, we are really not in competition with each other unless you write so many books that people can conceivably read nothing but your books for the rest of their lives (or if we care about release dates).

    As far as Amazon goes, I'd be interested in reading the verbatim e-mail they sent the reviewer. If true, then it seems that they would consider themselves to be infallible in ascertaining the identity of the reviewers. I've read the entire ToS when I first published, and I didn't see anything about Amazon being able to remove my book if a reviewer contacted them more than two times about not being able to write a review. I'd think there would be legal action if Amazon removed my book based on someone else bothering them regardless of what the ToS says.

    Related to this, I heard about groups of people going around to self-published authors and claiming that every review there is fake (regardless of authenticity), reporting abuse, posting in forums about how bad the author was, and posting fake 1 star reviews saying how bad the story/writing is. Not sure if this has subsided or not.
     
  6. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

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    Unfortunately, companies in the same position as Amazon are willing and very able to simply sweep legal action under the rug and forget about it... It wouldn't be difficult at all for them to tie the case up in red tape. You're right though, it wouldn't be at all wrong for you to complain if Amazon delisted you on account of someone else.

    What needs to happen is a group of NYC Bestsellers to across the top publishering houses to complain about it. Of course, I strongly doubt any bestseller reviews are disappearing no matter how vacuous they are.


    In the world of Google Analytics it is very, very, very easy for companies to get crafty with their business practices, and the fact is I imagine it to be pretty easy to support any case with any amount of vague legalese and loop holes regardless of the morality behind it. It happens.
     
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Most businesses can refuse to carry a product for just about any reason they like, or for no reason at all.
     
  8. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    Small claims court. I think there is a case to be made is all I am saying.
     
  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yeah you can make a case. I'm not sure you could keep it in small claims court. In the end, what's the legal argument that Amazon should be forced to carry your book? And if you win, can they be forced to carry every book?
     
  10. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    The court of popular opinion is what counts. If Amazon is seen as favoring one author over another, I can imagine a significant backlash.
     
  11. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    I lost a review the other day and wondered why. I'd simply assumed that the guy who'd posted it however many months ago had taken it down. But maybe not after all.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  12. ALB2012

    ALB2012 Maester

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    Related to this, I heard about groups of people going around to self-published authors and claiming that every review there is fake (regardless of authenticity), reporting abuse, posting in forums about how bad the author was, and posting fake 1 star reviews saying how bad the story/writing is. Not sure if this has subsided or not.



    Not according to the forums. There were a while back certain individuals maliciously posting one star reviews which in some cases Amazon didn't seem to take down as although it was reasonably obvious it was malicious it could not be proved.
    There are also certain people who seem to delight in not only annoying everyone on the KDP forums with their diatribe but then moaning when they get bad reviews and accusing random people for leaving them.

    I know some reviews do seem to have vanished but Amazon has been having a few issues so it could be linked with that.

    There are an awful lot of people who don't read the ToS and well it is not exactly fair but I guess when you tick the box to say you want to publish with KDP you agree to the good and the bad. I don't think they would take a book down if the reviewer couldn't leave a review but I think ti may have changed that you actually have to have bought the book to review to so you can't get your mum, your sister and your dog to give you 5 star reviews.

    Reviews are also one person's opinion, often a 1 star review just makes the reviewer look bad but if someone simply didn't like it then I doubt much can be done.

    Amazon do seem to swing from one extreme to the other though. They are good at covering their own behinds:)

    Does seem rather odd though, I review your book as a fantasy writer well i like reading fantasy. I don't like it for some reason or another ( I am not saying it is the case) so you get your book taken down and I can't post a review?

    The only person, in my case who has a vested financial interest in my book is me. Personally I wouldnt down grade a review or leave a bad review simply because someone writes in the same genre. I might if I simply disliked their book but if I like it then fine. Good luck to them selling their book:)

    I tend not to review on Amazon anyway. I might go check a review I left a while back on a book I read and liked a lot is still there.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012
  13. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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  14. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    Yeah, something is going very wonky with Amazon's internal review practices. Given the company's Big Data-centric outlook, no doubt there is a bug in some spreadsheet or other data collection program/method that is causing them to badly screw their customers.

    Sucks to be one of those who get caught in the rusting gears, but Amazon will either fix it or pay for it.

    EDIT: This is another case of why I don't own a Kindle, nor likely ever will. I buy eBooks from Amazon all the time, but they get moved to my Nook.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2012
  15. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    If the account of Amazon's actions given in that blog post is accurate, their actions are beyond the pale. That is simply not acceptable behavior.
     
  16. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    Having just suggested to my parents a Kindle might be a suitable Christmas present, this has encouraged me to ask for a Nook or Kobo instead.
     
  17. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    How does that work exactly?
     
  18. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Just use a program like Calibre to convert them to ePub format and then load them onto the Nook. It's dead simple.
     
  19. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    If you use Amazon a lot, or are someone who would be prone to watch their instant videos and the like, then the Kindle Fire with an Amazon Prime membership is really a great deal. That's an LCD eReader, not eInk. On par, I'm going to continue with Kindle as opposed to Nook, though the Nook devices are nice as well.
     
  20. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    This is really rough. According to a quick Google: the usual reason for Amazon shutting down accounts is if someone asks for a refund too often, especially on large electronic items. Amazon, of course, is the sole arbiter on what is considered 'too often'. They then shut down that account, and every account connected with it, in some way. Might be a relative, same address, or just a gift recipient (apparently). And yes, shutting down the account means they can legally wipe the Kindle, although they have to refund what you paid for those ebooks.

    But - no warning, no right of appeal, found guilty purely by association - that's really, really rough.
     
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