If you have been keeping up with the book industry in the past couple of weeks, you’ll already be aware that Amazon.com has updated its review policy. While this in itself isn’t reason to worry, the actual revisions that Amazon made have caused a backlash. Now, you can’t post a book review if Amazon thinks you are personally connected to the author in the slightest way. That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? If you’re thinking “Does a Twitter follow count?” then the answer is yes, unfortunately.
According to Amazon’s Review Guidelines, only “family members or close friends of the person, group, or company selling on Amazon” are not able to write reviews for items purchased. An article on Good E-Reader points out that social networks aren’t mentioned anywhere in the review guidelines, either by name or reference. That makes one question how exactly Amazon decides whether to let you post a review or not. It looks like Amazon will even block your review if you won a prize in some sort of giveaway hosted by an author!
Personally, it’s been long since I post a book review at Amazon. Almost all of my reviews are at Goodreads and here on my personal Web site now. That means I haven’t run into the problem of having a review rejected by Amazon. It looks like I’d probably hit a wall if I tried posting a review there now. I’m not personally acquainted with any authors, but I follow several of them on Twitter (mostly my favorites) and Goodreads. Would you think my—or anyone’s—reviews are biased just because I’m a fan of a particular author, or have interacted with them? I write my reviews as objectively as possible, aiming to avoid showing favoritism or to shove my opinion down people’s throats. My reviews are fair. Apparently, though, my following authors closely on Twitter and Goodreads is grounds to have Amazon reject a review. This doesn’t make sense to me. Even if I had met these authors in person, I should still be able to write reviews for their books.
There is a Change.org petition going on that aims to get Amazon to rethink its controversial new review policy. This petition was first started by indie author Jas Ward. She was compelled to take action after finding out that one of her readers couldn’t post a book review on Amazon. I support this petition. As of last week, it has secured over 11,000 signatures. If you want to show your support too, you can follow the link at the beginning of this paragraph to provide your signature. This way you can help readers all over express their thoughts on books they enjoyed.