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amazon's book review purge

Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 33132

The New York Times has an article saying Amazon has purged some book reviews. The article begins with
Giving raves to family members is no longer acceptable. Neither is writers’ reviewing other writers. But showering five stars on a book you admittedly have not read is fine.

It also says they took down some review from friends/fans. The article focuses on fiction where this seems to be a bigger problem. For computer books, I like reading a review before I buy it. (which is why coderanch book reviews are so helpful.) A computer book is typically $50. That's a lot to spend on a bad book.

In the comments, a number of people suggested Amazon should only allow people to review books they bought at Amazon. I posted the following as a reply to one:
I have bought the book for a small % of the reviews I post. Some of the reviews for books I have not paid for end with "Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review.". Others were borrowed from the library or a teammate.

I just looked at my reviewer profile and see that I have give a range of 2-5 stars for the recent books. I think this is fair. And serves the publisher interest of getting feedback for their book out there. Not always good feedback, but that's accurate. Not all books are good or ones I like. If I rated higher, I wouldn't be credible and it would make the review useless.

It would be unfortunate to only allow reviews of books I physically bought on Amazon. Maybe peer feedback would help. I have 888 helpful votes on 147 reviews. (I don't know how many I had before the purge so it is possible I lost some. Although I know the author for my most recent review - which I disclosed - and it is still there.) Or a report a review system where people could complain about "garbage" type reviews.

This also goes to show why it is important to publish negative reviews too. I sometimes feel bad that "a publisher mailed me a book and I'm giving it two stars." But it doesn't happen often and this is the reason why it is important not to share that info. The first time this happened was very memorable to me. I was new to reviewing and one of the authors was a moderator here. (Kyle Brown.) I had read another book by Kyle and liked it. I wrote up my review and emailed to Kyle asking what to do. He said to post it; it was a fair review. It helps that he was only a contributing author (so maybe the things I didn't like weren't his.) I went ahead and rated the book two stars and it currently has 13/15 helpful votes. The other handful of reviews of the book are 4 or 5 stars. Which gave me the confidence to post a mix of good and bad reviews.

Anyway, I'd like to open a discussion of Amazon reviews here.

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Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24199

I do most of my reviews through Vine these days (free stuff is sent to me, and I review it. ) I have never once posted an inflated review, or withheld a negative one. If I did that, then I feel it would reduce the value of all my other reviews. So I'm with you!

I also know that you and I both have seen some nasty stuff. There are "author clubs" that exist solely so that members can give 5 star reviews to other members' books. If they're figuring out how to crack down on that I say more power to them!

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Andy Jack
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 22, 2012
Posts: 257
Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:
A computer book is typically $50. That's a lot to spend on a bad book.

Get e-book for pc/mac. You can return it within 7 days. So, review it before 7. Usually, I see that i can judge a book within 3-7. Some books are nasty though. The initial part is good and the rest is bad.
Hope to get to the bad within 7.

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Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 33132

Ernest: Well then they know you experienced the produce, right?

Andy: I *really* like paper books.
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: amazon's book review purge
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