Is the Amazon Review system fair?

Many authors are questioning that validity of Amazon reviews at present. I can sympathise.

Some people who have read Heronfield, but not purchased it from Amazon, have tried to review the book but the reviews do not get posted. You can imagine my surprise then, on 2nd November 2013, to find a book to be published on 7th November 2013 already reviewed and ranked!

So what star rating does this unpublished book have?
10 reviews with an average of 4.1* On the kindle page Amazon states ‘This item has not been released yet and is not eligible to be reviewed. Reviews shown are from other formats of this item’. In fact it has not yet been released in any format and the reviews are from Amazon Vine. What is that you ask? Amazon says Amazon Vine invites the most trusted reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions’. 

Bearing in mind that the book has not yet been published Amazon shows a ranking (based presumably on pre-publication orders) of:
#558 Paid in Kindle Store
#4 in Kindle Store > Books > Fiction > Fiction Classics
#10 in Books > Fiction > Classics
#12 in Books > Fiction > Romance > Historical

As an author, I know that I would like to get my books reviewed by as many people as possible, so I can hardly criticise someone else for feeling the same.  However, Amazon Vine does not appear to be available to self-published authors (please do feel free to contact me and  correct me if I’m wrong).  All I would argue for is a level playing-field for all authors.

What is your opinion?

Do you think this system is fair?

Can an unpublished book actually be regarded as a ‘classic’?

I would be interested to hear your views.

Finally though, as a new author, I recognise that no matter what system Amazon uses reviews are incredibly important for building the reputation of an author, and for sales. I would therefore like to thank the people who have been able to post reviews for Heronfield. I value your feedback to help me to become a better writer, and to produce other books that you might like to read as well.  All of your kind words and encouragement are much appreciated!

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5 thoughts on “Is the Amazon Review system fair?

  1. Your post has got me thinking. I’ve never thought much about Amazon reviews, and my first reaction to your claims of unfairness was, “Well, it’s a private company. They can do whatever they want!” But the more I think about it, the more I’m changing my mind. Amazon wields so much power these days–it’s practically a monopoly–that it probably should be held to some standards of “fairness.” And I don’t see any reason that self-published authors shouldn’t be allowed to post their books as “pre-release” and accumulate pre-release reviews and orders. I don’t know how the system currently works, but I’m with you in wanting to make it more equitable.

    1. Thanks for the comment Sharon. I’m in touch with a lot of authors (not all self-published) through blogs and social media and may of them find the Amazon system, at best, confusing. Not all reviews posted actually appear on Amazon. If you take a look at my ‘Reviews’ page one person has commented that ‘I have tried to review this book on Amazon but so far my review hasn’t appeared so I will do it here.’

      When all is said and done, however, I write because I love it. I would feel that there was a part of me missing if I couldn’t write. It is great to have reviews from readers but, at the end of the day, if the review only appears on my website but not Amazon I won’t be complaining!

  2. As a soon to be self published author I find this confusing? However, I do know that many books are sold as pre-releases so does this give entitlement to those who have read to review? Or only Vine readers? I would love to know myself.

    1. You hit the problem on the head – confusing! If the system is clear then both authors and readers know what’s what. With my readers ‘hat’ on I want to know that the reviews I’m reading are genuine and fair.

      Good luck with the book – let me have a link when it’s published!

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