Phony book reviews on Amazon? Maybe

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Got this email from Brigid Alverson and thought it was interesting enough to share.  I went in and looked at the remaining reviews and they make interesting reading:

Hi Paul,

I write about digital comics, and I’m a big fan of Teleread. I just ran across this on Amazon and I thought you might be interested:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005VRAZOS/ref=cm_cd_asin_lnk

Long story short: The book had something like 250 5-star reviews, all of which were apparently planted by the author or his surrogates. He even took the time to leave feedback on his reviews. People started complaining and Amazon took them down. There are now six reviews left, all scathing.

Justice is swift on the electronic frontier!

Happy new year!

Brigid Alverson

4 Comments on Phony book reviews on Amazon? Maybe

  1. Amazon books reviews are a strange animal… on one hand they are extraordinarily restrictive (a few months ago they pulled ALL reviews from a national book review publication because a small fraction were sponsored reviews) and on the other some authors can create scads of positive reviews for themselves. I haven’t figured out how they were able to do it for, according to the tiny number of reviews of our eBooks–left by my more diligent customers–you have to buy the book to be able to leave a review. Buying 250 copies of your own book in order to drum up false reviews seems like a lot of trouble for naught. In my experience, folks rarely buy eBooks based on the reviews of strangers; they more rely on reviews posted by their close contacts.

  2. Meredith, I’m not sure why you think that Amazon customers have to buy a product in order to post a review. As far as I know it’s never been that way.

    Your post made me wonder if Kindle exclusive ebooks required a purchase for a review unlike other products. So I went over to Amazon, for a test, found an ebook written by Meredith Green called “Draw Me A Picture” and posted a 5 star review. :)

    Of course my review is just filled with a bunch of happy babble because I have no idea what the book is about. It should post before too long since there is a delay between submitted a review and having it show up online.

  3. It’s fun to watch how stories like this play out…it’s all part of the new ebook “revolution”. A few of the apparently phony reviews are still on the Amazon UK site — in each case the first positive reviews from the reviewer just happen to have been created on the same day as they posted their gushing praise for
    The Hacker Hunter. The author has also built a fairly elaborate web site for the book, which is (was?) planned to be part of a series.

    I’m encouraged that Amazon is responsive to scams like this.

    What mystifies me is why Amazon continues to encourage the scurrilous overpriced republishers of Wikipedia and other public domain content (like Emereo and Tebbo). My current favorite: “The Justin Bieber Handbook: Everything you Need to Know About Justin Bieber” — which reprints his Wikipedia entry and sells it for $40.

  4. I am bemused by this whole subject.

    I can see the value of product reviews in the hardware sections etc. but in eBooks, and pBooks, I see NO VALUE whatsoever. I don’t really care WHAT other people think of a reading title. It is a worthless exercise unless I know if the person shares my tastes in reading.

    So the whole subject of bogus reviews seems a pointless and irrelevant subject to me.

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