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Amazon bans authors from reviewing books of the same genre - deletes reviews

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message 1: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Ellis (kapt_kipper) | 65 comments Amazon has deleted and now prevents authors from reviewing books in similar genres to their own books. Amazon calls it a "conflict of interest". How do you see it?

Original source
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/bo...


message 2: by Joshua (new)

Joshua | 31 comments Something tells me there must have been a problem for Amazon to make this policy.


message 3: by Anna (new)

Anna (maybesaveme) | 8 comments When you think about the amount of reviews from authors in the same genre the publishers put on a book sometimes, it seems like an odd policy. Of course a publisher wouldn't put a negative review on their own book but still.


message 4: by Nick (new)

Nick Gilbert | 6 comments This seems odd to me, it's like preventing the experts from having their say. You're taking the experts and preventing them from reviewing.


message 5: by Jerome (new)

Jerome Lim (yojimbo76) | 28 comments I can see their point, if some authors had been trolling or flaming other authors, but what about those who gave critical reviews?! This seems like a no-win scenario for Amazon, either they were going to get the complaints from the "victims" or they get blasted from the now blocked authors!


message 6: by Daran (new)

Daran | 599 comments The article names a specific instance which caused the policy. I think it's bad logic, as well as swatting a mosquito with a howitzer.

So, Lev Grossman should not review fantasy for Time because he published a fantasy novel? What about non genre work? Should critics be banned from reviewing post modernist novels if they have a post modernist novel in publication? That's most of the NY Times Arts and Culture staff right there.


message 7: by Troy (new)

Troy Jackson | 25 comments I KINDA see Amazon's point, but why do they feel the need to step in? If it's a rampant problem, maybe. It just seems like a lot of work on Amazon's part to sift through thousands of reviews, match them with the person that posted them and see if they are an author in that genre or not, and then remove if they are. Why not just address it with the actual offenders?


message 8: by Janny (last edited Dec 27, 2012 08:35AM) (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 44 comments These days, it isn't only Amazon that 'discounts' the opinions of authors.

The number of times I've seen erroneous claims not to 'trust' an author's positive rating or review' (on the blanket assumption a positive comment is unreliable/used as a friends network) far outweighs the credible integrity of genuine professional behavior.

Most established peers in the business will NOT EVER endorse a book they dislike.

In fact, we are sent many more books requesting a quote than most of us will ever comment on. Silence is golden - you may not see (in public) what books failed to engage us, since they were written for another readership - but the indicator of what we do enjoy, in most cases, is a statement of sterling honesty.

Personally, I don't review on Amazon - it's always been a bit of an indiscriminate stew pot, anyway, occasionally riddled with vicious feuds.

Regardless, I don't see an outright ban as a good thing. It's a pathetic, lead-footed replacement for the loss professional etiquette, which the free fall atmosphere of the internet in general seems to have degraded.


message 9: by Phil (new)

Phil | 1152 comments I don't really truat Amazon's reviews anyway. I've seen too many instances of 12 year olds giving poorly written books like Eragon 5 stars because they haven't read enough to compare it to or others who give books like The Skystone 1 star because there was sex in what they thought would be a children's book. I just read the reviews for entertainment value.


message 10: by Michal (new)

Michal (michaltheassistantpigkeeper) | 294 comments At least one person thinks it's a good move due to...um, "ideological corruption" in the sf community:

http://www.blackgate.com/2012/12/27/s...

I don't know how useful this is to the discussion. Probably not much, since the article mostly concentrates (implicitly) on how the writer doesn't think women should win Nebula awards.


message 11: by Daran (new)

Daran | 599 comments It was just the one woman, and I tend to agree. I certainly don't think anyone on the SFWA board should be eligible for their award that same year, even more so the president. That's a conflict of interest.


message 12: by Adam Zajicek (new)

Adam Zajicek | 6 comments Not sure how Amazon believes that this will solve anything. If an author really wanted to give a bad review they could just make another account under a fake name.

I've never noticed this "problem" but I would figure that authors of particular genres are also fans of that particular genre. To me, a fan's review is always welcomed.


message 13: by Michal (new)

Michal (michaltheassistantpigkeeper) | 294 comments Daran wrote: "It was just the one woman, and I tend to agree. I certainly don't think anyone on the SFWA board should be eligible for their award that same year, even more so the president. That's a conflict o..."

Oh, I agree that Asaro's win us suspicious, but every "underserving" winner Theo mentions is a woman, while all the authors he thinks should have won are men-- giving the impression mentioned above.


message 14: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8768 comments That's ridiculous and retarded. They should also remove blurbs, then.

Here's how you protest this as an author: "I write Fantasy novels. This murder mystery is not a Fantasy, therefore it isn't good. 1 star."

They'd have to ban everyone then.


message 15: by Mathew (new)

Mathew (dipree) | 36 comments Why should we miss out on reviews from people who are experts in their fields? It would be the same as banning physicists from critiquing physics papers.


message 16: by Todd (last edited Dec 28, 2012 02:49AM) (new)

Todd (Motorcycleman) | 31 comments Amazon has many bad business practices. They load advertisements on kindles, they take advantage of technologically challenged folks, and they nearly monopolize the ebook trade. They are too controlling for my liking.

I think authors' expert reviews are most valuable. Instead they might establish a registration process by which interested authors might leave reviews to weed out those trying to abuse the system.


message 17: by Michal (new)

Michal (michaltheassistantpigkeeper) | 294 comments It doesn't actually stop authors from reviewing books, the reviews just appear elsewhere or under a different name. But as for the integrity of Amazon customer reviews...in the case of books, I just don't read them any more. A books review is just so subjective that a friend, or a book blogger who I like, or, say, a professor, would make a far more useful metric to judge whether I should read something or not. War and Peace has one-star reviews on Amazon, while really mediocre novels will only have 5-star reviews and no bad press at all. It's the books with only high ratings that make me suspicious, and it's about the only time I pay attention to those reviews even though I don't actually read them.

With the ease of creating sock puppet accounts, all the measure does is make it harder to see if there's a conflict of interest going on in a review (and even that conflict doesn't matter sometimes if the book that's being promoted *is* genuinely good).


message 18: by Mitch (new)

Mitch | 31 comments Pretty much scanned most of the replies. Bottom line, I am more willing and confident in a review from a professional writer, especially someone reviewing a book within their own expert field.

Back in the sixties, when digest Sci-fi was at it's height, I would turn to the reviews first. They were all written by professional sci-fi/fantasy writers. I made my choices from those reviews and was introduced to a number of up and comers I was not familiar with.

Personally I love just about everything Amazon has done, but I am biased. I edited and published a softcover book in 1999 and realized 30k in profits.

But this policy is nonsense.

Because it is so easy to get published through e-mediums a lot of crap is on the market and I really don't have the time nor financial resources to buy everything because I might like the premise, the cover or the opinion of non-professional readers. Please let someone review it who knows the field.

Really bad move for Amazon.


message 19: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Michal wrote: "It doesn't actually stop authors from reviewing books, the reviews just appear elsewhere or under a different name."

Unless you have a credit card under an assumed name, sock puppetry is pretty easy for Amazon to catch, and will result in a total ban, including both the ability to buy from Amazon and to self-publish in the Kindle store.


message 20: by Gene (new)

Gene Coming from gaming I stopped trusting professional reviewers a long time ago. Now I see the same quality of reviews are coming to book reviews (no offense to most of the people on GR, you guys are great).


message 21: by Emy (new)

Emy (emypt) | 98 comments It's only Amazon's rules for themselves, therefore I couldn't really care less. Sorry :P


message 22: by Kim (new)

Kim | 477 comments I'm not bothered about this at all. I've never bothered looking at reviews on Amazon, I use GR for reviews. Also I don't particularly want to read reviews by "professionals" or "experts" (Just because a person writes a book in a genre does not make them either of those things.) Even reviews by established, magnificent authors don't interest me or critics. Why? Because I'm not one of those people and I view books differently than they do. I want reviews from readers like myself. Those sorts of reviews are the ones that matter to me.

And in regards to the information about the Nebula awards I'm not surprised. I've always been wary of peer given awards. I'm not saying I haven't enjoyed a lot of winners but I wouldn't buy a book, listen to a song or watch a movie based solely on its having won an award.


message 23: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Kim wrote: "I'm not bothered about this at all. I've never bothered looking at reviews on Amazon, I use GR for reviews. Also I don't particularly want to read reviews by "professionals" or "experts" (Just because a person writes a book in a genre does not make them either of those things.)"

Depends on the subject matter. People who review history books on Goodreads tend to be casual readers who give ratings based upon how entertaining the narrative is (and will give bad reviews due to idiotic things like being confused by foreign names), whereas Amazon reviewers are more likely to be knowledgeable on the subject and will point out when a book's untrustworthy.

NMC wrote: "Having said that, there must have been a problem for Amazon to have implemented this, as someone else mentioned earlier."

If you go into writer forums around the net, especially for self-pubbed authors, you'll find authors acting butt-hurt over bad reviews and forming circle jerks with other writers to vote down the bad reviews and give each other good ones.


message 24: by Sky (new)

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments Darren wrote: "My favourite Amazon reviews"

I think a large majority of those reviews may be from professionals in the banana slicing field. Not necessarily traditional banana slicers, mind, but quite possibly indie. Either that or sock puppets.

On the other hand, they do provide pertinent commentary on the myriad benefits and pitfalls of what is, quite frankly, a world changing innovation in how we think about sliced fruit. So maybe I don't mind professional reviews after all...


message 25: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Daran wrote: "It was just the one woman, and I tend to agree."

More than one:

Contrast with them some of the authors who did win the awards for Best Novel. In addition to Asaro’s embarrassing award, (she was also nominated for best novella that same year), there is 2012 winner Jo Walton, whose banal Among Others somehow beat out Mieville’s brilliant Embassytown. (Read my Black Gate review of it if you are unfamiliar with it.) Vonda N. McIntyre’s The Moon and the Sun beat out Martin’s A Game of Thrones, and Nicola Griffith’s Slow River beat out The Diamond Age. If you haven’t heard of these award-winning books despite being a hardcore SF/F reader, there is a reason you haven’t. They aren’t dreadful, but they aren’t particularly good either, their Nebulas notwithstanding.


More significantly, the author of that article is Theodore Beale, more commonly known as the highly misogynistic right wing blogger Vox Day.


message 26: by Daran (new)

Daran | 599 comments I was wrong about there being the only one example, I apologize. I'm also aware of Vox Day past controversial writing, and I disagree with them.

I still think that the SFWA rules that allow any of their sitting board to be nominated for a Nebula creates a conflict of interest.


message 27: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 314 comments Darren wrote: "My favourite Amazon reviews"

Hehe or just eat the damn banana whole, they go brown anyway. Still that item does look a bit...wrong.

It never ceases to amaze me what gadgets there are- egg pealers, for example. My mother had a house full.


message 28: by Vicky (new)

Vicky (librovert) | 52 comments I don't use Amazon for reviews but I do know that there have always been issues with their review system. Whether it's people making multiple accounts and reviewing or author's paying users for positive reviews.

Knowing that, I can appreciate that they're taking measures to curb behavior that leads to skewed reviews. But it also seems a bit like giving the whole class silent recess because one kid is causing trouble.


message 29: by Emy (new)

Emy (emypt) | 98 comments Vicky wrote: "Knowing that, I can appreciate that they're taking measures to curb behavior that leads to skewed reviews. But it also seems a bit like giving the whole class silent recess because one kid is causing trouble. "

Good point. I admit my negativity towards vendor site reviews is that I always end up with a sneaking suspicion that you only get the REALLY happy and REALLY unhappy reviews. Do review sites get more general reviews, whereas vendors get only the ones where you have such as strong opinion that you feel compelled to make a comment? I know that the only review I can remember making on Amazon is for the replacement charger for my Transformer that melted when put into the plug socket... I guess I judge the reviews in the light in which I would be likely to put them up, and therefore only look at egregious things, like AVOID. I also am cynical about books with only "AWESOME!!"-type reviews, which seem to be more common on Amazon (I mean how often do we all agree on a book?)


message 30: by Michal (new)

Michal (michaltheassistantpigkeeper) | 294 comments Addendum: It turns out Asario *wasn't* president of the SFWA at the time: http://www.blackgate.com/2012/12/27/s...

So I guess the article is just a load of hooey, and doesn't really have much bearing on the Amazon issue.


message 31: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Rhoads | 1 comments The problem started when they discovered an author (obviously not a well-known one)giving terrible reviews of all books in his genre. You can't count on those reviews because he couldn't possibly have read them all. He was just trying to get his own works sold. He gave himself glowing reviews using multiple accounts and having friends review his work. It only makes sense with all of the self-published authors now adays that this would become a problem. A lot of people rely on those reviews even if you don't and it isn't fair. It's the problem with self-publishing and publishing through Amazon; you don't get publicity like you would with a publisher so you have to make your own. NOt to mention there is a ton of crap out there now that people can just upload anything to Amazon and claim themselves authors.


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