conduit2I ran across a story the other day that made me think about the way that parts of our online activities can affect other parts, and the risk that you take doing anything that could draw negative attention to you if you’ve also got a book on Amazon.

Published writer T. Michael Murdock also reviews video games on Joystiq. Recently, he gave a one-star review to a game called Conduit 2 (which he called “more like Con-don’t-do-it 2”). After he wrote that review, one-star reviews started appearing on his Amazon book listing—and it turned out that Conduit 2 developer Matt Corso had sent an internal email around with a subject line of “We heart Joystiq,” stating:

I thought you might like to know that Joystiq reviewer Michael T. Murdock has a book that he has written available on Amazon. It looks to have decent reviews based on 6 reader’s (sic) feedback.

Michael was kind enough to recently provide us with a Conduit 2 review. And so in turn you should all feel at liberty to (of course read it first) and then return the favor by writing a reader review for Michael’s book for him.

Have fun folks!

The software company’s Chief Creative Officer and Corso have apologized, insisting that the email was meant sincerely, and that they didn’t hold Murdock’s review against him because “We learn through critique.”

It’s actually rather hard reading the mail to figure whether it was meant sincerely or not. Certainly my impulse based on phrases like “return the favor” is to suspect it’s meant to incite tit-for-tat responses. And whether it was meant to or not, it seems to have done just that.

Of course, it’s certainly not Murdock’s fault for writing a critical review, and it seems rather unprofessional of Corso to have written that email. But it’s worth keeping in mind that what you do in one place can have repercussions in another—especially if that other is an Amazon book listing.

(Found via BoingBoing.)


  1. Very unprofessional. That’s why the verified purchase flag is so important for reviews. Unless a reviewer mentions that they received a review copy, if it’s not a verified purchase, I don’t read the review.

  2. But CS, there are many other places to purchase a book besides Amazon. I buy lots of books and ebooks from other sites but review on Amazon because it gets the most traffic. I’d hate to think that people don’t “believe” my Amazon review just because I didn’t buy it there.

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail