Friday, January 04, 2013

Author backlash over Amazon's new online review crackdown

Amazon is facing a backlash from authors after their reviews were quietly deleted from its website under a new ban on novelists leaving their opinions on books in the same genre.

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Amazon prices its Kindle ebooks agressively. Photo: CORBIS
Amazon has now admitted that it has introduced a ban on authors leaving reviews about other people's books in the same genre because they may pose a “conflict of interest” and cannot be impartial about their rivals.
This means that thriller writers are prevented from commenting on works by other authors who write similar books.
Critics suggest this system is flawed because many authors are impartial and are experts on novels.
In recent weeks, some authors said they had more than 50 reviews deleted without notice, provoking waves of critical comments and posts on blogs and internet forums.
They were later told their reviews breached Amazon’s guidelines because they were left "on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product”.
It is understood the new crackdown of its review systems was instigated in the wake of the scandal caused by numerous fake reviews, in a practice dubbed "sock puppeting".
RJ Ellory, the bestselling British crime writer, was exposed for writing fake online reviews about his “magnificent genius” while simultaneously criticising his rivals.
But last night Amazon's new crackdown prompted a wave of condemnation from authors and the literary industry who attacked it as flawed and ill-thought. 

More at The Telegraph including comment from Joanne Harris, Mark Billingham, and other authors.

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