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Stories To Tell is a full service book publishing company for independent authors. We provide editing, design, publishing, and marketing of fiction and non-fiction. We specialize in sophisticated, unique illustrated book design.

Stories To Tell Books BLOG

The Amazon Book Review Controversy: What Do You Think?

Biff Barnes

The brouhaha over Amazon book reviews continues.

Today the New York Times ran a front page story Giving Mom’s Book Five Stars? Amazon May Cull Your Review. In the latest chapter of the controversy over the validity of reviews which appear on Amazon The Times reports:

Courtesy of o5com under Creative Commons

After several well-publicized cases involving writers buying or manipulating their reviews, Amazon is cracking down. Writers say thousands of reviews have been deleted from the shopping site in recent months.

Amazon has not said how many reviews it has killed, nor has it offered any public explanation. So its sweeping but hazy purge has generated an uproar about what it means to review in an era when everyone is an author and everyone is a reviewer.

Amazon’s action came in response to pressure from a variety of sources. The Times had exposed The Best Reviews Money Can Buy in an August report which chronicled the exploits of Todd Jason Rutherford’s company where authors could purchase positive Amazon reviews. In September, a group of prominent mystery authors posted a website No Sock Puppets Here Please decrying the fact that some of the success of Amazon best selling authors Jon Locke, Stephen Leather and R.J Ellroy was based on “fraudulent” reviews. The controversy has been well documented in the blogosphere.

Amazon’s decision to remove reviews from its site has generated even more controversy. In November Forbes reported Amazon Tackles Review Problem, Deletes Wrong Reviews. Among the reviews being removed were those written by other authors. But, said Forbes, “Meanwhile, however, reviews that we either know are fake or have a very high probability of being fake are being left up by Amazon.”

Mystery writer J.A. Konrath addressed the deletions on his website A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: “Congratulations, NSPHP signatories. Because of your concerns about Amazon's review policy and your ridiculous little petition, and the resulting media witch hunt, thousands of legitimate reviews have now been deleted.”

What do you think about the controversy? Post a comment below:

  • How do you use Amazon reviews in making buying decisions?
  • Do you post reviews on Amazon?
  • Have any of the reviews you have posted been removed?
  • If you are an author, have you seen reviews of your book (s) removed from Amazon? How has that affected your star rating?
  • What do you think Amazon should do about book reviews?