11 Jun 2018


'To contribute to Community Features (for example, Customer Reviews, Customer Answers), you must have spent at least £40 on Amazon.co.uk using a valid payment card in the past 12 months. Promotional discounts don't qualify towards the £40 minimum. You do not need to meet this requirement to post Customer Questions, create or modify Profile pages, Lists, or Registries, or to read content posted by other customers'.
- Amazon.co.uk
See their 'Eligibility' and other Community Guidelines by clicking here

OR ...

for Amazon.com's
'Eligibility' and other Community Guidelines click here

Just as I know I'm not the first, I know I won't be the last.

The last that is to be held to ransom by Amazon. And, yes, at this moment in time, that is truly what it feels like.

It may have escaped your notice (I know it had mine until, having received a pop-up message from amazon politely declining my latest review, I checked) but lots of bloggers are having not only their recent reviews declined BUT their reviews going back weeks .. months .. even longer deleted. Why?

As of 2018 ... 

For many reasons but seemingly way up there as one of the most common reasons  ... I refer you to the Amazon Community Guidelines at the top of this post.

Yes, I'm guilty of not spending £40 (if in the US $50, I don't know about elsewhere) in a year with Amazon.co.uk .. OR am I? 

Not uncommonly between Mr T and myself (Note I make no mention of all the family members who buy things for us as listed on our respective Wish Lists) we easily spend £40 (and the rest) each but, for reasons I won't bore you with here, I refuse to set up an online account and therefore always buy things  using his account.

Am I, as my nana would say, 'cutting off my nose to spite my face' by not taking the simple step of setting up an account in MY name? Probably, but, right now, I refuse to be held to ransom.

And especially not held to ransom by a site that as a fellow blogger explained ...

"I NEVER buy books from Amazon - I buy teabags and make up, but never books and I review EVERY book that I read, on Amazon.

Because I spend money with Amazon, I am allowed to review on Amazon, it doesn't matter where I bought the book from."

So basically, a site that allows you to review books when in fact you haven't bought a book off them for goodness knows how long (if ever) preferring to spend your £40/$50 if in the US (that by the way is £40 and another $50 if, like me, you are sometimes asked to post your review on both Amazon.co.uk AND Amazon.com) purchasing whatever it is your purchasing off them that isn't books.

Not that this is the only reason people are having their reviews declined/deleted. 

Not unlike many others, whenever I have reviewed a book on behalf of a second party (IE an author, a publisher, ETC) I have always added a disclaimer that is basically the same as the one you'll find at the top of the left hand side-bar. The proper thing to do? You'd may have thought so BUT woe betide anyone who gets the wording of this wrong. 

Yes, it seems as if Amazon has it as being OK for authors etc to give copies of books or Advance Reading Copies (ARCs) away so long as they don’t require a review in exchange (which by the way is considered your being financially compensated). Soooo best not use the term I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review" ... Amazon doesn't like it. Far better to go with something along the lines of “I received an this book/ARC at no cost from the author.

Hang on a minute, second party providing a print copy in thanks for a review is considered my being 'financially compensated'? Yes, and Amazon will decline your review AND possibly delete others.

What's more ...

Enter competitions where the prize is an Amazon gift card? I have it on good authority that entering a competition where the prize is an Amazon gift card IS considered to be compensation for a review (even if the review is years into the future). 

Hmm! It seems Amazon can and do track gift cards that authors send out by email and thus authors in the know apparently {whispers} buy Amazon gift cards from their local supermarkets, ETC, and mail them out to their readers, which doesn’t draw a direct line between them.

Then, nothing new, Amazon has always stated that "reviews written by anyone with a personal relationship to the author are inappropriate". Yes, we're talking nepotism. 

All well and good. Of course no one wants to think that all those five star reviews are being written by the author's mother, right?

Of course we don't BUT for me I guess the crux of the matter is how exactly Amazon defines a personal relationship?

A relatively small community, how many of us who review books on behalf of second parties (despite probably never having met them in the flesh and hardly likely to do so) befriend, lets say, an of author or heck, even their cat on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads .. I could go on? Hardly what I'd describe as a personal relationship and, yet no matter how tenuous the link, Amazon don't like it. Far better, if they/their cat have one, rather than befriend them on their personal page, follow them on their public/author page'.

And finally, rant almost over ...

Were you aware that authors aren't allowed to review on Amazon? 

No, of course I don't mean they aren't allowed to go dishing out five stars to their own books, that goes without saying. I mean they aren't allowed to review full stop, the reason?

Having finally managed to solicit a response from them, an author friend received an email that  strongly suggested that they (authors) were unable to be circumspect; that they'd either (a) give positive reviews to those published by the same publishing house and/or (b) give negative reviews to their competitors.

A blow to the blogging community and authors (especially those authors who self-publish and don't have the backing of a big publishing house)?

I'd like to think not. After all, when all is said and done ...

  • Our reviews are important to authors. As I have been informed by several authors, reviews are the life-blood of the 'indie' author. If nothing else, its a way of getting their name/book(s) out there; even if less than glowing, its still feedback and, if well done, can provide constructive criticism.
  • Gutted to think all of the hours (to say nothing of the considerable thought) I've put into my review(s) has gone, deleted at the press of a button, BUT ...

  1. I started blogging as a way to chronicle the books I had read and, yes, whilst its both an honour and a privilege to receive books from second parties; to think that I might have provided just that little bit of exposure, no matter what, I'll carry on reviewing.
  2. Theirs isn't the only site, there are others apart from Amazon. OK so there isn't any research out there as to how much (if anything) reviews help sales on other sites but, again, its a way of getting an authors name out there and I'd like to think, no matter where posted, readers might, just might, be influenced by them.
Why might you ask, that given these issues and the fact that Amazon's working conditions have been questioned, do I still shop with them.

A good question and one I've been pondering for a while now.


Thank you for sticking with me, know its a been a longer than usual post but, well, I needed to say it.


So many books, so little time said...

I have seen so so much about this, I wonder what kicked it all off. I heard it is happening even with verified purchases being removed - it is madness. xxx

Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

Literary Feline said...

Thank you for this informative post, Tracy. I have not reviewed books on the Amazon site for some time because of issues I've had with their business practices (although I still shop with them--so I don't have a high horse to stand on). I do use the Goodreads site which is owned by Amazon though. That site doesn't seem to suffer the same problems.

I kind of get what they are trying to do, but I think their methods and algorithms are way off the mark,and are more detrimental than beneficial, even to consumers.

I am sorry for what you are having to deal with right now with Amazon. They really need to revisit their policies and the implementation of said policies.

Kelly said...

Wow. I did not know any of this. Granted, I rarely leave reviews on Amazon and these days it's more often for a product than a book. But still...

I also did not know until reading the comment above that GR was owned by Amazon. I don't belong there, but do occasionally look at reviews.

Pandora's box has been opened and we might as well face the fact that "Big Brother" is watching (and manipulating), and in many ways there is nothing we can do about it.

Kelly said...

And I guess I should admit that, like Literary Feline, I do shop at Amazon (a LOT), so I'm willing to sacrifice in some ways to reap benefits in others.

WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

Greetings Tracy. Sorry you are having problems with Amazon, it must be frustrating for you? Blessings to you. Love love, Andrew.

nightwingsraven said...

Thank you for your informative
and truly heartfelt post. I can
definitely understand how frustrating
this must be to you. And I think thar
Amazon slaps its enthusiastic and
dedicated customer reviewers in the
face .

Gina R said...

Hugs to you, my friend. What is our bookish community coming to when our hands are being virtually tied left and right?! 😑

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I haven’t been a fan of the Amazon review for a long time. I also get my recs from other bloggers and Goodreads (yes I know Amazon owns it but the reviews are easier to see from those I’m friends). Don’t sweat the review. :)

Suko said...

It's the Age of Reviews, and book reviews are important to authors! But it's an interesting situation--how should/can Amazon insure that reviews are "objective"? You raise many important issues in this post. My own experiences with Amazon have been positive though, as a shopper and occasional reviewer.

Karen Alderman said...

There is so much going on right now with blogging (GDPR) and reviewing (Amazon) and it has all left me in a bit of a funk. It's like they don't want us to read and review anymore.

I hadn't seen about the spending limit though. I rarely review on there anyway (my reviews had been plagiarized) but I think if you bought something from them, you should be able to review it!

Karen @ For What It's Worth

Heather said...

Hi Tracy, thanks for the information. I wasn't aware of this either. Looks like my reviews have been removed. I haven't submitted any in the past two years since I started working for a major book competitor. No real lose for me, but for the consumer, it's bad as I often reviewed non-mainstream books.

Jen_bookworm said...

Just heard about this! When you request ARCs they ask you to post on Amaazon so this is terrible. I've stopped buying books from Amazon as I can get free delivery on Wordery and buy a lot from shops too. I've bought books from Waterstones recently because they are offering signed copies! I haven't had this happen to me yet. I seem to find more and more reason not to like Amazon, but I want to watch Prime!

Suko said...

Today I have a new comment to add, Tracy! I tried to post a non-book review a few days ago, and could not. I have violated the rules, apparently. And the reviews I used to have on Amazon have disappeared! Book bloggers are being punished for expressing our thoughts and opinions, in a sudden and harsh manner. This is disturbing.