Friday, November 2, 2012

Amazon Strips Books of Positive Reviews

I regularly visit J.A. Konrath's blog A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Mr Konrath's most recent post concerns Amazon's removal of positive book reviews from books listed on its retail site.

After reading the post and some of its comments, I quickly went to Amazon and checked several of my books. To my horror a large number of perfectly legitimate 5-star reviews had been removed. Of the few negative reviews I had, they all remained!

I have contacted Amazon to voice my concern, particularly if they are going to leave negative reviews alone. I fully realize Amazon can do whatever it wants and there is nothing I can do about it.

However, removing positive, and legitimate reviews but leaving negative reviews, one of which I can prove was written in spite by an individual I know and another in which the author of the review point blank states he has not read the book, is troubling.

As authors we spend a good amount of money sending copies of our books out for free to individuals we believe, and hope, will like our books and be willing to write positive reviews of our books on Amazon. To simply strip books of positive reviews with no recourse for authors somehow smacks of injustice.

This apparently is in response to some authors who complained about "fake reviews." Amazon's reaction to these complaints is like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. 

The individuals who gamed the review system will figure out a way to do so in the future. This destruction of huge numbers of legitimate and positive reviews is, in my humble opinion not only unfair, but causes a degree of harm disproportionate to the initial problem.

If Amazon will agree to remove the fraudulent negative reviews, I will be happy and in the case of the book in question, the actual star average will be close to what it was before all of this started. In this one example, everything would have evened out.

But if Amazon is removing fraudulent positive reviews using an algorithm, why can't the coding geniuses figure out a way to remove fraudulent negative reviews? That would be an acceptable and just solution to the situation.