Amazon bans authors from reviewing books in their own genre

Authors on, take note.


Michelle Jaworski


Posted on Dec 26, 2012   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 4:46 am CDT

Authors on, take note: You are no longer allowed to review books that are in your genre.

That’s according to a new site policy. Naturally, many authors are not happy about it, The Telegraph reported.

Amazon said that the writers aren’t able to be impartial about their rivals and might cause a “conflict of interest.”

The authors, many of whom are located in the U.K. and the U.S., have also noted that their reviews have disappeared on the site without notice. Some have had more than 50 reviews removed.

“Amazon should either reject all reviews or accept all reviews—ordinary law of the land permitting,” Writers’ Guild of Great Britain’s Books Committee chairman Nick Yapp told The Telegraph. “We don’t see that they have the rights or the qualifications to be choosy.”

Some who reported their missing reviews were told by Amazon that they had breached guidelines: Their reviews had been left “on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product.”

Amazon has a zero-tolerance policy for reviews that are meant to mislead or manipulate customers, and the revamp of their review system was partially due to scandal caused by fake reviews.

The company also stated in their Customer Reviews Frequently Asked Questions, “If you have a direct or indirect financial interest in a product, or perceived to have a close personal relationship with its author or artist, we will likely remove your review.”

Jeremy Duns, who first exposed that fellow crime novelist R.J. Ellory wrote positive Amazon reviews for his own books while posting negative reviews for his rivals, thinks that Amazon is going the wrong way about the problem.

“It seems unfair and bizarre to target authors like that,” Duns said. “There needs to be change but not like this.”

Some authors, such as Forbes writer Tim Worstall, feel that while the new policy will prevent sock-puppeting, they should be able to review a fellow author’s work because they can add ideas to the conversation that others cannot.

“[Banning authors from reviewing books in their genre] has to be a bad idea I would think,” Worstall wrote. “Not because people will miss my pearls of wisdom: but because this seemingly applies to all people who are expert enough to have published in their area of expertise.”

Amazon only noted that they had improved the detection of promotional reviews, which resulted in review removals.

“While our enforcement has improved, our guidelines have not changed,” Amazon Customer Reviews FAQ stated.

Photo via jemsweb/Flickr

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*First Published: Dec 26, 2012, 6:58 pm CST