Amazon Cracks Down on Author Nepotism

It’s probably a good thing, given the number of posts on author sites and LinkedIn discussions where authors launch silly plots to give each other great reviews for their books.  It’s unfortunate, though, that honest reviews are going to disappear as well.

According to the L.A. Times, author Steve Weddle tried repeatedly to leave a good book review for another author (and friend), but that the review never appeared.  When Weddle inquired where his review was, he received an unexpected response:

“…We have removed your review from Karma Backlash. We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product. As a result, we’ve removed your reviews for this title…”

From the L.A. Times:

“…It is certainly possible that some authors consider other writers rivals. In September, prize-winning English crime writer R.J. Ellory admitted to having written negative reviews of other writers’ books under a pseudonym. The furor that erupted over his “sock puppet” reviews, however, was just as heated around the positive pseudonymous reviews Ellory had written,. which were for his own books. Ellory, who has since apologized, called one of his own books “a modern masterpiece.”

This is the conundrum of reviews on Amazon: For the most part, they’re not actually reviews. In terms of books, they’re often reactions, thoughts, comments, recommendations — but not book reviews in the classic sense. Book reviewers are supposed to steer clear of work by friends and enemies. That kind of thing has never been the rule at Amazon…”

Personally, I’m inclined to agree with Amazon, in that authors writing reviews for other authors are probably as suspect as family members writing reviews.  Based on the “I’ll do yours if you do mine” mentality of new authors who obviously don’t understand that what they’re doing is dishonest – and which I’ve seen on numerous discussion sites personally – I usually dismiss glowing reviews from reviewers that have same names as the writers.  It’s more difficult to do with authors, though.

Maybe a good ‘sweet spot’ would be to allow author reviews but label them as author reviews so that the consumer can make a better judgement call as to whether they want to invest in the book.

You can read more about Steve Weddle’s adventures with Amazon HERE.

You can read the L.A. Times article HERE.

You can read the quick hit by Salon HERE.