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Old 12-06-2012, 02:50 AM   #31
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What to the following have in common:

George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Kingsley Amis, Gore Vidal, Anthony Powell, Anthony Burgess, Anthony Boucher, James Blish, Clive James, Henry James, John Mortimer, George Orwell, etc etc etc have in common?

They all wrote reviews....
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:54 AM   #32
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The issue isn't whether or not authors write reviews, but whether or not the potential conflict of interest outweighs the benefits. On balance, I think it probably does, and that Amazon have acted in the interests of their customers here.
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Old 12-06-2012, 04:18 AM   #33
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I do think it's right that reviews by other authors should also be banned; there's just too great a likelihood of an author either "putting-down" a rival, or promoting a friend.
It does seem to open an even worse possibility, however. The article refers to instances where a threat was made to remove the *book* from Amazon if violating reviews continue to be made. Note that this means the book is removed solely due to the actions of people other than the author. If that's really the case a malicious author has a better option than simply down-rating their rival - they can get the book removed altogether.

/JB
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Old 12-06-2012, 04:38 AM   #34
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It does seem to open an even worse possibility, however. The article refers to instances where a threat was made to remove the *book* from Amazon if violating reviews continue to be made. Note that this means the book is removed solely due to the actions of people other than the author. If that's really the case a malicious author has a better option than simply down-rating their rival - they can get the book removed altogether.

/JB
Definitely

I was thinking the same thing. It's an excellent way to screw over an author you don't like.
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Old 12-06-2012, 04:51 AM   #35
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It does seem to open an even worse possibility, however. The article refers to instances where a threat was made to remove the *book* from Amazon if violating reviews continue to be made. Note that this means the book is removed solely due to the actions of people other than the author. If that's really the case a malicious author has a better option than simply down-rating their rival - they can get the book removed altogether.
That is just a standard form email though, isn't it?
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:18 AM   #36
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I understand trying to enforce "real" reviews, but that puts my book in a catch-22 position. My book is on creating ebooks, so by definition authors are the people buying my book. So this rule basically eliminates any chances of my getting a review!
That's fair?
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:49 AM   #37
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I guess I don't see the problem with authors reviewing books by other authors. First, it is disingenuous to say that each book is unique and then to say the books are widgets. Either each book is unique or every book is substitutable for every other book.

Second, it assumes that authors don't read books by other authors and that they are always liars. I would be very disappointed to discover that the only book an author has ever read is the book he or she wrote.

Third, it says that reviews by authors are less honest than reviews by so-called readers, you know, the people who give a review even though they have never read the book but who are not themselves authors.

Seems to me it would be better to require the authors who write reviews of another author's books to identify themselves by their real names and to list the book they authored that is in competition with the book under review. Then a reader could give the review whatever weight they thought appropriate, just like they do with the 1-star reviews complaining about pricing.

Last edited by rhadin; 12-07-2012 at 07:52 AM. Reason: fixed spelling error
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:52 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Pulpmeister View Post
What to the following have in common:

George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Kingsley Amis, Gore Vidal, Anthony Powell, Anthony Burgess, Anthony Boucher, James Blish, Clive James, Henry James, John Mortimer, George Orwell, etc etc etc have in common?

They all wrote reviews....
There's nothing stopping authors writing reviews, they just can't write Amazon customer reviews. If a known author said something nice about my novel, it would go in the body text of the book description, not in the customer reviews.

Of course Amazon are fighting a losing battle - they can't hope to catch all the sock puppets and shills - but I think it's at least worth trying to keep the review system functional.

(Perhaps they could allow reviews that don't count towards the rating?)
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:57 AM   #39
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I guess I don't see the problem with authors reviewing books by other authors. First, it is disingenuous to say that each book is unique and then to say the books are widgets. Either each book is unique or every book is substitutable for every other book.

Second, it assumes that authors don't read books by other authors and that they are always liars. I would be very disappointed to discover that the only book an author has ever read is the book he or she wrote.

Third, it says that reviews by authors are less honest than reviews by so-called readers, you know, the people who give a review even thought they have never read the book but who are not themselves authors.

Seems to me it would be better to require the authors who write reviews of another author's books to identify themselves by their real names and to list the book they authored that is in competition with the book under review. Then a reader could give the review whatever weight they thought appropriate, just like they do with the 1-star reviews complaining about pricing.
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:15 AM   #40
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Seems to me that there can be no "unscammable" online review system. Yet everyone loves to scream about how dysfunctional Amazon's review system is. I say leave it the "anything goes" system it's (mostly) been all along. You can't fix it, and any attempts (like this one) to automate some—any—semblance of legitimacy is doomed to be viewed as tossing babies with bathwater. What's the real harm in the review system being scammed in the first place? I mean, any reader who makes a purchase decision based a handful of clearly biased reviews deserves to be parted from their $2.99-6.99 anyway (or deserves to be cheated out of the experience of reading a perfectly good book, for that matter). Seriously, how many authors' careers are truly hanging in the balance of disingenuous reviews (good or bad)? Just let the reviews fly; people are never going to NOT bitch about whatever system is employed.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:53 AM   #41
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Seems to me that there can be no "unscammable" online review system. Yet everyone loves to scream about how dysfunctional Amazon's review system is. I say leave it the "anything goes" system it's (mostly) been all along. You can't fix it, and any attempts (like this one) to automate some—any—semblance of legitimacy is doomed to be viewed as tossing babies with bathwater. What's the real harm in the review system being scammed in the first place? I mean, any reader who makes a purchase decision based a handful of clearly biased reviews deserves to be parted from their $2.99-6.99 anyway (or deserves to be cheated out of the experience of reading a perfectly good book, for that matter). Seriously, how many authors' careers are truly hanging in the balance of disingenuous reviews (good or bad)? Just let the reviews fly; people are never going to NOT bitch about whatever system is employed.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:57 AM   #42
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They do if the reader got the book for free as a result of a book promotion. Also they might be more favorable if both the reader and the author were born in the same city, or if the book got a good review from someone they like or respect, etc.
True enough. But the fact that you can't eliminate all possible conflicts of interest isn't a reason not to eliminate some forms.
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:51 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by Pulpmeister View Post
What to the following have in common:

George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Kingsley Amis, Gore Vidal, Anthony Powell, Anthony Burgess, Anthony Boucher, James Blish, Clive James, Henry James, John Mortimer, George Orwell, etc etc etc have in common?

They all wrote reviews....
Did they write reviews on Amazon? Did they write reviews for bookstores selling their books, or for independent magazines/newspapers? Do you think people already knew that they were authors? Finally, do you think that they may have already had sufficient success that they weren't dependent on reviews from other authors?

I think that the answers to these questions are quite different for those established authors than for many authors on Amazon.

And no one is saying that authors can't write reviews. Amazon is saying that the authors can't write reviews *on Amazon.*

The real problem isn't Umberto Eco writing a review on Amazon (assuming he would do such a thing). The real problem is when you look at a self-published book and find that it has 10 5-star reviews. You then check out the reviewers and find that each of them is a self published author, and each of their books has a positive review by the person who wrote the book you originally looked at. This is a real problem with the credibility of Amazon's reviewing process, and Amazon should stop it. Most customers want to read independent reviews, not reviews written by other authors in the hopes of getting reviews of their own books. That just looks like marketing.

None of this implies that Amazon's reviews are perfect now, or that their implementation of this process is ideal. However, the idea itself is a good idea, and overdue.
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:56 AM   #44
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Did they write reviews on Amazon? Did they write reviews for bookstores selling their books, or for independent magazines/newspapers? Do you think people already knew that they were authors? Finally, do you think that they may have already had sufficient success that they weren't dependent on reviews from other authors?

I think that the answers to these questions are quite different for those established authors than for many authors on Amazon.

And no one is saying that authors can't write reviews. Amazon is saying that the authors can't write reviews *on Amazon.*

The real problem isn't Umberto Eco writing a review on Amazon (assuming he would do such a thing). The real problem is when you look at a self-published book and find that it has 10 5-star reviews. You then check out the reviewers and find that each of them is a self published author, and each of their books has a positive review by the person who wrote the book you originally looked at. This is a real problem with the credibility of Amazon's reviewing process, and Amazon should stop it. Most customers want to read independent reviews, not reviews written by other authors in the hopes of getting reviews of their own books. That just looks like marketing.

None of this implies that Amazon's reviews are perfect now, or that their implementation of this process is ideal. However, the idea itself is a good idea, and overdue.

I disagree, you act like there is some huge conspiracy in place, I don't think authors spend time reviewing books just to get reviews on their books. I think authors spend time writing.
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Old 12-06-2012, 01:04 PM   #45
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Paid reviews have ALWAYS been prohibited. I do think it's right that reviews by other authors should also be banned; there's just too great a likelihood of an author either "putting-down" a rival, or promoting a friend.
Writers are readers too, and they're more likely to have an "informed" opinion on a book instead of either "ITS GRATE" or "IT SUX". There will almost certainly be some writers who swap good reviews, just as there are insecure writers who feel the need to trash a book they see as competition. But banning all writers from leaving reviews is just a silly knee-jerk reaction and won't make any difference at all to the number of fake reviews on Amazon.
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