There’s a thing going on at Amazon, and I didn’t notice it till late November.  Amazon are taking down reviews that appear to be swaps, i.e. you review my book and I’ll review yours.  In some cases, they’ll even take the books down.

The issues and problems are very well covered in this post (and further links) by Jo Robinson (whose blog I had never visited before) The Amazon Review Policy Elephant in the Room which was in turn reblogged by the Story Reading Ape, or I wouldn’t have seen it at all.  He’s recently done his own post on the subject here.

As you know, I review the books I read.  I get them from lots of sources, and some of them are ARCs provided by publishers or authors.  I usually state as much.  I need to state that in my reviews on Amazon and see if that has any effect.  I tend not to publish reviews on anything I would give less than three stars to, which got me into trouble on Goodreads, where some teen readers pointed out that for Goodreads, 3 stars is ‘I liked’ it, 2 is ‘it’s okay’, whereas, frankly, I think 2 stars means it’s not good at all.

Which makes me think I should revise my personal star system, as I do get crammed up the 4 and 5 star end.

So, on here, my ratings from 2016 onwards reflect (or should reflect) the Goodreads tags:

1 I didn’t like it

2 it was okay

3 I liked it

4 I really liked it

5 It was amazing

There are a number of things I dislike about this – because the chance of my describing a book as ‘amazing’ is vanishingly small.  The chance of me finishing a book I don’t like and also reviewing it, is also tiny.  I’ve been reading a bookclub book I didn’t like, but I appreciate it’s well written, so it got a 2 stars from me.  So will I ever actually give anything other than 3 and 4 stars?

In general Amazon stars will be 3, 4 or 5, because Amazon have a different list where 3 is more like ‘it was okay’.  I give 5 stars to books I think were really good.  But as we said above, Amazon is now a minefield, and the only thing I hope is that by continuing to review books by well-known authors and also by buying ebooks by indies and reviewing them, Amazon will decide my reviews are genuine and not ‘swapsies’.

So, if you want me to review your books, I’m not going to take ARCs anymore.  I’m going to watch for those special 99c offers and buy them.  Or put the reviews up elsewhere.

Maybe I should think about doing 99c launch prices and put them to sensible prices after a week – or a month?


Review Policy | Mine and Amazon’s

5 thoughts on “Review Policy | Mine and Amazon’s

  • 18 January, 2016 at 6:52 am

    It’s a minefield alright. It’s a wonder anyone reviews anything at all, with all the quibbles about rating and not rating and genuine and not genuine reviews. Honestly, it’s enough to make me want a cup of tea and a good lie down.

    • 18 January, 2016 at 10:13 am

      That’s probably the best reaction to them – although I like your reviews and rating approach!

  • 18 January, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    The whole stars thing has long put me off doing reviews at Amazon OR Goodreads. On my blog, I just offer my responses and recommendations, and let the reader take it from there. Sometimes that may involve reading between the lines.

    I don’t do review swaps, but since I review for my friends and they for me, it could certainly look that way (and I’ll not deny that reviewing for friends has its dangers).

    Like you, my reviews fall into the 4 & 5 star range (what would properly, on the GR system, be 2 & 3), because I don’t review (or usually finish) books I hate, and I do try to be a bit selective to make sure I don’t get hold of books that are awful.

  • 19 January, 2016 at 1:04 am

    I’ve heard if you state at the beginning of your review that it was an ARC received in exchange for an honest review those ones shouldn’t get pulled. To me, 2 stars does mean “I didn’t really enjoy it, but not enough to DFN it.”

    • 19 January, 2016 at 9:23 am

      That makes sense to me, Patricia – and I know Rebecca always puts a statement which cites a Federal guideline on reviews. It’s a confusing world, that’s for sure!

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