Amazon has created a conundrum with their latest attempt to avoid another sock puppet scandal. In their zeal to ensure another individual doesn’t create multiple accounts under fake names to give poor reviews to their competitors, they are removing reviews if they believe the individual is connected to the author in any way.
Most authors have reacted badly to this policy. Some have claimed Amazon has “stolen” their reviews and have been quite vocal about this on social media. Nothing can stop these authors in their vehemence to attack the retail giant for removing those reviews.
First, this is Amazon’s territory. They have every right to take precautions from having their reputation sullied with another scandal such as the one that rocked the industry in late 2012 when one RJ Ellory created personas to give his book sterling reviews designed to gather readers. However, this author didn’t stop there. Using those same fake profiles, this author attacked his competition by giving them poor reviews on their books.
The news broke in The Guardian in the U.K. and was talked about for quite a long time. (for the full story, click this: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/sep/04/sock-puppetry-publish-be-damned). Once the dust settled, Mr. Ellory made numerous apologies for what he’d done. Another issue came to light, that being how other authors were doing the very same thing.
Amazon uses reviews to allow consumers to rate their products. Authors love to see their work reviewed. It gives them an insight into how people feel. We authors have been known to lurk on Amazon, waiting to see the first review of our work come up, ready to cheer for the great accolades and weep from the poor ones.
Now that the review system has been reset so to speak, authors are becoming militant about the removal of reviews, which they claim has no rhyme or reason. But, this is a byproduct of a loophole that a few less than ethical authors took advantage of and we must all pay the price.
Certainly, I want to see reviews of my books. They’re rather nice, but I agree with Amazon’s system now. It allows for the honest review versus a few people taking advantage of a loophole to hype their own work and slap down the competition.