Amazon has recently been deleting book reviews from their site in large numbers, and the indie author community is NOT happy. Google “Amazon removes reviews” and you’ll get over 5 million results, but if you go to this post from Karen Woodward, you’ll get a decent synopsis of the issue, plus several other relevant links.
The general consensus of opinion seems to be:
- Amazon is a business, so they can do whatever they like as long as it’s not illegal.
- Just because they can, doesn’t mean they should.
The reviews on “Ghosts Can Bleed” are intact – for the moment – but around half of the reviews I’ve written have disappeared. Given that my author profile is linked to my Amazon account and authors are now no longer allowed to review “competing products” (the definition of which is hopelessly vague), it’s possible that the other half could disappear at any time, and my reviewing ‘privileges’ could be revoked.
You’ll note the quotation marks around ‘privileges’. You see, while the rest of the indie community is hopping mad at what they see as Amazon’s poorly handled response to the problem of fake reviews, I’m going, “Meh.”
I love my fellow indie authors, I really do, and I will do whatever I can to help them out, including reading and reviewing their books. But the thing is, all that reading and reviewing takes a lot of time, which in turn has a significant impact on my own writing productivity. Sometimes I get compassion fatigue, and feel like I will lose it if I get one more review request (and no, I will not even consider reviewing a book unless I have read it from cover to cover, so put that idea right out of your head). Not being allowed to review other writers’ books lets me off the hook to a large extent. Sure, I can still post reviews on my blog or on Goodreads, but nobody cares about that; everything revolves around Amazon. And perhaps there is a lesson in that. Perhaps we all need to pay less attention to Amazon, thereby reducing Amazon’s power and dominance in the ebook market.
I’m unconcerned about losing reviews of my own books, because everyone is losing reviews, which keeps us all on a level playing field. Yes, that’s cold comfort to indies trying to compete with the likes of J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and other megastars with thousands of reviews per title, but then, it’s an exercise in futility trying to compete with them anyway, reviews or no reviews.
So go ahead, Amazon, delete my reviews. See if I care.