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Amazon’s Even Newer Reviewing Rules Will Book Reviews Be Affected?

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UPDATE:  Amazon have seen sense and since posting this blog post they have exempt book reviews – sort of.  There is more in this final post about the new rules Whoooo! Complaining Works! Amazon Book Reviews Are Now Exempt!

WARNING: Amazon.com have updated their review guidelines…Again!  Along with the already restrictive guidelines I have discussed previously in this article – Amazon’s New Reviewing Rules – Could it Affect Authors in the Future?  But now they’ve updated these guidelines yet again by adding additional rules near the bottom.  These rules are on amazon US, the UK and other sites may or may not adopt these rules in full but in my experience almost all rules are adopted given a bit of time.

The new rules can be read here but here are the new points and be warned if you are an amazon reviewer:

  • If your review is removed or rejected because it does not comply with our guidelines concerning promotional content, you may not resubmit a review on the same product, even if the resubmitted review includes different content.
  • Reviews may only include URLs or links to other products sold on Amazon.
  • Customers in the same household may not post multiple reviews of the same product.
  • Customers can submit 5 non-Amazon Verified Purchase reviews each week, starting on Sundays.
  • When we find unusually high numbers of reviews for a product posted in a short period of time, we may restrict reviews of these Amazon Verified Purchase reviews.

So, let’s break these rules down.  Rule 1 is that if you post anything promotional as part of your review and amazon removes your review, or rejects it when you try to submit you can NOT submit another review for the same product…..In theory this sounds like a great idea, BUT…Currently a computer/bot has been in charge of flagging reviews.  Especially when submitting a review.  Many of my reviews for both items and books have sometimes been randomly rejected by the amazon bot.  When I’ve resubmitted changing nothing, the review has then been accepted.  With this new rule: If you’ve written a review, a book review and amazon rejected it for any odd reason you will NOT be able to resubmit your review…at all!

The second rule is straight forward.  It’s possible to place urls in reviews on amazon but in the past I’ve seen some people place their blog urls as well other addresses.  This new rule is easy to follow and I’d advise against using any urls in your reviews, just to be safe.  If you do want to include links to other items on amazon though, the review creation page has a button where you can easily add url links to products.

The third rule, customers from the same household may not post multiple reviews of the same product.  This is already a rule that is upsetting some people.  It is understandable that amazon is doing this.  Its stops some fraudsters from writing multiple reviews for one items.  However the question is how do amazon check this?  Is it a simple case of two people having the same delivery address on their amazon account?  Or is it more covert, such as sharing the same computer, which would lead to the IP address being the same?  I don’t have an answer here but be wary if you and someone you live with both enjoy reviewing.  One address = one review.

Rule 4 is the one I have most annoyance about.  It has been discussed for a long time on the amazon reviewer forums that there should be a limit to the number of reviews posted.  However I thought even a review a day would be the minimum.  The new rule states that only 5 non-verified purchase reviews are allowed a week!  A non-verified purchase review is any review where you haven’t bought the item from amazon.  As a book reviewer I get sent countless books both digital and physical which would all count as non-verified purchase reviews.  If I was reviewing on amazon.com and wanted to review several books at once I just wouldn’t be allowed to if it exceeded the 5-a-week limit!  Beware book reviewers!!  You can also accidently make a non-verified purchase review of a book you have BOUGHT!  This happens if you bought a kindle copy but reviewed the paperback and vice versa.  If you want to make a verified purchase review make sure that you head to the book from ‘your orders’ page.

Rule 5 confuses me.   Amazon may stop people posting verified purchase reviews if they spot too many reviews being posted in a short time.  The question is how many is too many?  Famous authors may have had their latest books on pre-order.  After that I can easily see plenty of reviews being posted in those first days, all verified purchases.  I’ve seen it happen on a best selling colouring book.  Plenty of new reviews every hour.  All these people bought the books and yet if amazon think too many reviews are posted at once… You might not be able to post your own review…!?

These new reviews don’t make sense to me.  While I can understand the fact amazon is trying to stop fraud and improve their site, it still feels as if they are throwing out random rules and hoping that they work without really thinking them through.

Book reviews are still allowed on the site, but does the rule of only 5 non-verified purchase reviews apply to books too?   Are famous author’s books going to stop having reviews because plenty of people wanted to say how much they loved/hated the new title?   Are book reviews exempt from the new rules?  It’s very unclear and as usual amazon’s new rules just bring more confusion than clarity.

What do you think of the new updated amazon .com rules?  Good, bad, confusing?  Please let me know in the comments below.

 

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64 thoughts on “Amazon’s Even Newer Reviewing Rules Will Book Reviews Be Affected?

  1. I think this makes Amazon a place where there is too much hassle. I am not bothered at all though, because I believe and am seeing it is possible to market/sell one’s book without Amazon as well. It is a double edged sword, of course, but it does impose one to be overly cautious. They are not counting on bad people stopping to be bad, they are counting on good people putting more effort so they are discernible as good people even by a faulty, badly programmed AI. This is at the same time very straining for Indie authors, because they rely and often find joy in one-on-one marketing, meeting people and befriending them, especially their readers. It is what Amazon does not see, that the vast majority of us is actually not writing robots just looking for dollars, most of us see writing as a spiritual, emotional and potentially fulfilling path of life.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very true. I haven’t met an author yet who didn’t write for the love of it. Amazon is concerned with its sales and now that it’s been seen in a bad light with all the fraud its now concerned with its appearance too. I also think Amazon will suffer itself as this would be a perfect opportunity for another new platform to take its place by being less restrictive. I once read that blogs are becoming the big place to advertise things which would mean good things for us lol :). I’m glad you aren’t upset by their move. I may not even review on Amazon myself in future and I wouldn’t really care at this point 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think that they are in any serious danger. If you look at it, Facebook is pretty damn shit, with its policies and even business model. When they were announcing their changes, there was thousands of people everywhere saying the same thing, how some other social network will from now on take the cake. It never happened, even though you can say other social media networks are much better than Facebook. I think it is the same with Amazon, and as always I take myself as an example.
        Amazon is the only place where I can purchase a book my country’s bookstores do not supply nor care to do so (mostly because it is books on foreign languages, which we do have, but a short, sporadic supply of books I usually have no interest in.), the only place that actually follows up on their delivery dates, and even delivers EARLIER, in perfect condition, nicely packed, whilst as well offering and being available for refunds.
        The other side of it is my author page. I can see very little things, like it takes AGES to see if someone bought my book through Amazon, not using them as my POD (Createspace to be exact) gives me so much less options and so little information. But at least I know that if someone orders my book through them it will arrive. I see it as a store, I do not see it as a social gathering place, place to meet new people, not even a place to discover new products. I will come to Amazon to buy a book, but I have NEVER discovered a book on Amazon, and followed up with my interest. I discover on Goodreads (which is part of Amazon anyways and is welcome to friends and family reviewing your books, has a giveaway module and many options with little strings attached.), blogs, in magazines, as recommendations from reviewers like yourself (reviewer personal pages) and word of mouth.
        My point is, I think we are expecting too much personality from something that is actually, in reality, a huge, retail trader.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re right about amazon in the sense that it’s a good place to buy stuff from. I don’t like the monopoly they have over here but aso many high street shops have shut in recent years over here that it’s hard to find what you want locally and amazon is the first place I go searching for things too. Finances also make amazon appealing as things are often cheaper there even with shipping costs than they are locally though I always try to find something in local shops first. You’re right amazon is probably here to stay, though I don’t like the exclusivity it has on some books and titles. I understand the benefits of things like kindle unlimited, but it would still be nice to have more places to find books. On a side note, many people must have complained because amazon just changed their rules again. Book reviews are now exempt completely as is music and video :).

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That is great to hear! I know, as a business, they cant heed a lot of complaints, but things like these make me feel like they do care about the customer, a little bit, but still a tiny little bit.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Found you via Chris The Storyreading Ape. The Amazon reviewing system has always been confusing to me. I like how you broke down the new rules. Makes it much easier to understand, and to wonder about. You have some really good points. Anytime you let a program decide what is good or bad you are going to get mechanical errors since it can’t reason. I hope it helps Amazon in trying to crack down on manipulation of its review system. But when you pit a program against thinking, smart sentient beings, well…. no system is perfect. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading it and i’m glad my post is of help. The rule change has just happened in the UK too so I’ll struggle to put up as many book reviews as I’d like to on there each week. It’s such a shame and I can see a lot of people having problems because of a computer being in charge :/

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  3. That is disturbing. I agree with others that the pay-for-reviews situation is a problem, but there must be better ways to solve it.
    I also think that kindle unlimited reads should count as a verified review (or something similar.) KU readers are paying for the service, and Amazon even knows how many pages they read. Currently, reviews from KU readers show up as non-verified. Maybe Amazon could establish a special “KU” category in addition to the “Verified” category.

    Sorry… that was very off-topic!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Leaving the policing of rules to a machine never works well. it’s like asking a computer which is best, a clock that’s always a few minutes slow or one that’s stopped working. It picks the one that stops working because it’s right twice a day.

    You’d think people would learn, but I suppose it’s one of those decisions where the people in charge aren’t going to do anything until it affects them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. #1 and #5 worry me the most. I’ve had reviews rejected over one word that the program flagged as commonly used by fake reviewers. Replaced the word and it got in. Feels like this keeps getting tougher and tougher. I’m already at the point where I’m scared to ask people to review my books if they read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can understand that. Having reviews deleted because they come in too fast is the one that seems the worst to me. It’s just unfair for anyone who’s releasing a new novel and may have built up a good amount of pre-order interest. What will authors have to say in the future? ‘Please write a review but check that no one else has written one at the same time’…ridiculous :(.

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      1. I can see amazon making exceptions for famous authors however sometimes an author just happens to get famous without the help of a big publisher and their advertising. I wonder if this will stop the chances of a book really taking off by an unknown author because or amazon’s rules. And then of course it calls into question exactly who and how famous does an author have to be to be exempt. Will all traditionally published books be automatically exempt? It’s a horrible kick in the teeth for indie authors.

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      2. I think it could make such an explosion of success more difficult. The fact that it’s a program making the decision means it’s up to the programmers. They need to set parameters that don’t punish success, but I don’t have my hopes up. I think indie authors will definitely take the brunt of things. Do these new rules have a negative effect on anything other than books?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ve just found our that the UK rules have changed to match the US ones. The rules apply to all items whether books or not while the latest playstation or Kindle might be exempt I can see some new brand products being hit hard. Because I’ve reviewed more than just books in the past I’ve been contacted by small sellers who say that like authors they rely on reviews to sell items. One guy I’ve been talking to is struggling to sell wallets because of the rule changes. Amazon is trying to fight the corruption which has hit the website but I really think they’ve gone about it the wrong way as there are plenty of ways for the fraudsters to get around the problem. I’m not sure I’ll be able to post much on amazon in the future and I do wonder if another platform will slowly rise out of this mess to become a better place for customers to go to for items and books.

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      4. I know a lot of authors are having trouble. I rarely see reviews myself these days. I wonder if Smashwords will get stronger. The problem is that there’s so much on Amazon only. Not to mention Kindle is the most common e-reader.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Amazon’s been given too much power and like the old story, power has corrupted the people who make the rules. I have heard from a couple of authors though who are taking their book exclusivity off of amazon. One of the authors had several genuine reviews wiped from their book because the site wrongfully assumed she was friends with the person who reviewed it. I’ve read amazon’s letter to her, pretty nasty so I can see why she and another author are wary of letting amazon have exclusive rights. I’ll be interesting to keep watching and seeing what happens to amazon’s sales. I do wonder if they will be hit by this in the future.

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      6. I had that happen a few times. I’m not sure what to do. The kdp thing helps me a bit. Think I’m waiting to see what happens too. Sad thing is I think Amazon could have done something great if they embraced the indie scene they created.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes but doing it wrong I think. The problem is that amazon are trying to fix the system but they don’t do enough work of going after the actual bad reviewers. There are still people even I know of on amazon UK who are cheating the system and amazon won’t delete their accounts, in stead they will come up with crazy solutions like this, but in the end it harms authors even big name ones 😮

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Absolutely ridiculous, I normally read during the week and make notes then on a Sunday when it is quiet (no emails, children or visitors), I do my reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think it’s confusing, and unfair to both the author and reader. Many times I find it esier to read a few books, and then place my review. Some of us just don’t have time to read and review. On the authors side of this, they need the reviews to sell their books it’s ridiculous how rules keep changing and unfair to the authors.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The last rule was the one that caught my attention. Huge authors such as Jodi Picoult, Colleen Hoover, James Patterson …. they get hundreds of reviews the day their books come out. Are they going to flag them? But then at the same time, what if an indie author takes off and has a lot of reviews, and they are all legit? Because they aren’t of that caliber are they going to be flagged?

    I understand they want to make sure that customers are getting unbiased reviews. But there has to be a better way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, I think amazon don’t know what they are doing and are just throwing ideas out there in the hopes that something will work. The main issue is that most of amazon’s checking and flagging is done by a computer program and not by people. And as advanced as our computers are I can see many errors and mis-flagging happening with this. Thank you so much fro reading and commenting :).

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  9. I guess Amazon are trying to get rid of ‘fake’ reviews, whose sole purpose is to promote, and thus artificially increase sales numbers for a specific book.

    It can be very difficult to get your book reviewed. I published my debut novel almost two weeks ago, and so far it has only received one review.

    I can understand that some frustrated authors are tempted to “take a shortcut”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I understand there are fake reviews out there and of course none of us want there to be fake reviews and want them stopped but I’m not sure this is the best way around it. If you had a book on pre-order and it was very popular and plenty of people wanted to review it at the same time on day of release, amazon could now stop some reviews from showing up because of such rules. Best of luck with your book :).

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    1. I’m not sure if amazon will just not allow you to review it or whether it will let people but they will be violating the rules. Not sure how amazon is going to do it but it seems a bit unfair as I know I can review more than one item a day, everyday when I’m bored.

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