Amazon Cracks Down On Reviews From Fellow Authors

It appears as though Amazon is putting the clamps down on book reviews left by authors.

If emails from Amazon’s customer service team are a fair indicator, it appears the online retailer considers authors to be direct competitors of other authors.

See, part of the TOS for Amazon is that direct competitors can’t write reviews between each other. Generally, that makes sense. There has been an argument as to why the “competitor clause” may not make sense for those who write books.

Joe Konrath has a post about this which you may want to read. Especially the comments. Joe gets about a billion visitors to my one, so he has lots of comments. Most of them well thought out. A couple of points that Joe makes in his OP and in his comments. 1) Amazon’s reaction is a result of the infamous No Sock Puppets Here petition. 2) The Competitor Clause should not be applicable to authors; it’s a round peg for a square hole–or vice versa, pick your peg/hole combination.

Yes, the Sock Puppet controversy probably does play some role in Amazon’s decision, but it’s not the only factor. Just spend a few minutes perusing Amazon’s KDP Community forums and you’ll see another reason why I believe Amazon is cracking down. You’ll notice, on these forums, that many writers are a bunch of bitchy little girls. When I first perused the forums I was shocked at the pettiness displayed by many of the authors there: revenge one star reviews, snipping, general rude behavior, trollish behavior, authors writing tomes to Amazon about the one star revenge reviews and demanding their removal, threatened legal action, etc.

Think about it, what is the easiest, most cost effective way to deal with this nonsense? Of course, it’s to simply ban all book reviews by authors. I remember thinking that when I was wading through all the bullshit. Hell, I thought to myself. I’d just do away with authors leaving book reviews. Yeah, it cuts a wide swath, but one can hardly expect Amazon to hire an army of review police simply because hell hath no fury like a woman author scorned.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon comes up with a more comprehensive solution in the future, but for now this makes complete sense. Hopefully this will cut down on the number of authors who pimp their books on author forums, too.

Which reminds me, why the hell would you want to pimp your book on author forums anyway? I’ve never been able to understand that. Author forums are good places to run ideas by fellow writers, glean ideas of craft from, network, or run a book cover through to get some helpful input. They’re great for that, as well as general camaraderie. But to trying to market your book in them is nonsensical. In my opinion, that is.

I may well be the minority here, but I think that what Amazon has apparently done is a good thing. At least in the short term.

3 thoughts on “Amazon Cracks Down On Reviews From Fellow Authors

  1. I’m of a mixed mind on this issue. On the one hand I love leaving a good review of a well written book (but I’m loathe to write a bad review for a poorly written one — I just don’t do it). On the other, I know that there are those who abuse the system for their own ends.

    But those people eventually get found out and penalized by the readers anyway.

  2. @R. Doug Wicker:

    I agree with you in that it’s wonderful to leave a good review for a deserving book. Especially when it’s a book that you enjoy so much that you almost feel you have to let others know about. I know a lot of people who don’t leave bad reviews. I understand why. I think I’ve done one negative review a few years ago, and I still feel bad about it.

    I also agree that those who abuse the system are eventually found out, which is why I think–hope that Amazon’s approach is temporary until a more comprehensive solution is created. But until then, I don’t really see a better alternative to implementing the Competitor Clause.

  3. Hi Daniel,

    I’m in favour of banning authors from reviewing on Amazon. If I’d review some other books honestly, I might not give out the five stars authors tend to give fellow authors. And that, in turn, would most likely get me hate mail or repercussion reviews. Of course, like many authors I’m also a reader, and I should be able to review books. In that case, I can go to sites like Goodreads and leave a review there, which will not influence the Amazon ranking system. So, if any author wants to review another author, use Goodreads.

    Martyn V. Halm,
    Author of the Amsterdam Assassin Series.

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