Why Amazon Can’t Win When It Comes To Book Reviewsposted by
Courtesy of The Guardian…
Amazon’s sales figures over Christmas reaffirmed its supremacy in online bookselling, but in one of its myriad activities – its role as a forum for criticism – it seems that it just can’t win: when it’s not coping with a brouhaha caused by aggressive reviews, Jeff Bezos’s behemoth is provoking protests by removing flattering ones, and also by not removing them.
The first of several recent crises occurred in September, when detective work by another author exposed the award-winning British crime writer RJ Ellory, who (recalling the online misdemeanors of the historian Orlando Figes) had used the “sock puppet” alias Nicodemus Jones on Amazon to attack rivals.
Nicodemus Jones also gave Ellory’s own work five stars (one book was deemed “a modern masterpiece”), however, and it was log-rolling, not nasty notices, that evidently preoccupied Amazon’s monitors over the following months.
In a crackdown, reviews were deleted without notification – often several by the same reviewer – on grounds only later explained: writers were no longer allowed to comment on others in the same genre, and the guidelines also barred reviews written by “a person or company with a financial interest in the product”. Some rave reviews by family members and friends disappeared too, with Amazon’s ability to identify them as such seen as sinister.
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