Thursday, October 18, 2012

Et Tu, Amazon?

by Michelle Gagnon

So I just emerged from my editing cave (my second draft of book 2 for the PERSEF0NE trilogy is done- whew) to some disturbing news. Digging through a backlog of emails, I came across a few from fans that were extremely troubling. Apparently these fans tried to submit reviews of my book on Amazon, and their reviews either a) never appeared, or b) were abruptly taken down.

Two of the fans send transcripts of the reviews, and they were standard (and positive, thankfully): nothing offensive at all in terms of content.

One of the fans took the time and trouble to write to Amazon, asking why his review was removed. He received this form letter reply:
I'm sorry for any previous concerns regarding your reviews on our site. We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product.

We have removed your reviews as they are in violation of our guidelines.  We will not be able to go into further detail about our research.

I understand that you are upset, and I regret that we have not been able to address your concerns to your satisfaction. However, we will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on this matter.

Now, I've known this fan for years--he's read (and reviewed!) all of my other books. And he has no financial stake in my work. He also doesn't sell anything on Amazon, ever--never mind competing products (which would be what, exactly? Other books? Does this mean that I'm no longer allowed to review thrillers by my contemporaries?)

From there, it became even more disturbing. When the fan wrote back and pointed out that he's never sold anything on Amazon, and doesn't have any financial interest in my books, they sent another letter--and in this one, the powers that be declared that if he tried to contact them again about reposting, they would REMOVE MY BOOK FROM THE SITE.

That's right, remove my book. Even though, had he not written, I wouldn't have a clue that any of this was transpiring.

Hello, Big Brother.

Needless to say, I found this very disturbing, particularly since it doesn't appear to be an isolated case. After all, two other fans sent similar messages; and I can only wonder how many others had the same experience, but didn't write to let me know.

All I can think is that this is some sort of misguided attempt by Amazon to try and remedy some of the abuses that came to light in the recent sock puppet debacle (and if you missed all that drama, here's a link to catch you up). But if so, it's overkill. These days, with fewer review outlets available to writers, those Amazon reviews can be worth their weight in gold. And on what basis is Amazon is deciding that some posts should be barred? It's very disturbing.

Thoughts?

89 comments:

  1. That's bizarre, Michelle. Maybe a mix-up in the email addresses? Or that Amazon thinks the reviewer works for the publisher or a publicist? But it's also odd that they won't go into further detail and threaten to delist your book. Have you contacted Amazon about it? I find Author Central very responsive.

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  2. This is strange. Why are they so cagey? What's the point of not being more clear? I agree with Boyd. Contacting Author Central might be the way to go.

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  3. Yeah, Michelle - something like this could devastate us all considering I leave reviews for my favorite authors - I'm a reader first - how bizarre.

    Sorry for your troubles.

    Jordan and Boyd are right - Author Central has helped me with my books, and they're fast to respond.

    Paula

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  4. That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The only time I had problems with posting reviews was when there was profanity that hadn't been edited out. Since they are not willing to go into further detail I would definitely say something is up. But "questionable" thinks like this have been happening a while with Amazon, which is why I do my best to not buy from them (unfortunately, but since I review that is the most common form with self-published authors). As for the fans that were not allowed to post, I would file a complaint, leak it to the press - something. Unfortunately, i think Amazon is big enough that they will do whatever they can in secret so sitting back and accepting it will only encourage them. (This may be an effective thing since they are currently opening another warehouse in Jeffersonville, IN).I am not a trouble maker and I absolutely hate drama (except for weekly dose that comes from television). But this is sort of a big deal, especially since the final threat was to remove your book if he continued asking about the review. If he wanted to know if the problem was with him or your book then he could post a review for a different book or come up with a fake name and info and try to post the same review to see what happens. for what it's worth, I'm sorry and I will definitely be keeping an eye on my amazon reviews from now on.

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  5. Wow, Michelle, this is almost beyond belief. If nothing else, I would make HarperCollins aware of the incident including the threat to pull your book from the site. Amazon makes money by selling products, not dropping them. I would definitely get your publisher's reaction.

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  6. There is some algorithm at work here. No person is reading reviews as they come in and making a subjective decision. A clue may be that your fan has reviewed all your books. Do a little digging. Has he reviewed other books? Is he using a nickname? Has he been a verified purchaser? I wonder if all that is in the mix.

    When the sock puppet / paid reviews scandal hit a few weeks ago, there were calls for Amazon to police this. But I wondered then how that could possibly be done in a way that did not inadvertently sweep away some legitimate reviews, too. So I did not think they would do anything. I guess I was wrong.

    Hopefully, you can get an explanation of what's happening, and share it with us.

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  7. This is terrifying. I agree with James about an algorithm being at work. It's pretty frightening how much data they keep on every one of their customers (ever browsed an item and then come back the next day to order and find a price jump? That's not coincidence)

    Most likely, your fans paid your books more attention and reviews than others. That's what a fan should do, but to the algorithm a fan and a sock monkey must look a lot alike.

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  8. This is disturbing, Michelle. Please let us know what Amazon's response might be. It is unnerving to have your book arbitrarily removed, or reviews dropped, for reasons that don't seem to make sense. Thanks for posting this.

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  9. This appears to be gross overkill on their part to try and ensure unbiased reviews. What I find even more disturbing is that they threatened to delist your book from their site, without even contacting you to inquire about the review/reviewer.
    I don't often purchase from Amazon but I do browse books in a genre to find new reads of a similar taste, and I'm saddened by the fact that I may miss out on a good book because of something like this.
    I'd be very interested to hear what they offer as a response to this issue.

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  10. One word: scary.

    Another word: cynical. As in, could it be that Amazon has written algorithms that function based on an assumption that authors who only receive positive reviews (especially from the same reviewer over time), must be paying for those reviews?

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  11. Good idea, I'm going to try author central. All I can think of is that this fan won something in a giveaway- YEARS ago- that I sent via amazon. But it certainly wasn't payment for a review, it was part of a contest I ran for the publication of my second book (in 2008!) Which is really worrisome- is this the result of some sort of aggressive data mining?
    I'll talk to my publisher, too.

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  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. That's really interesting, Merrie-and even more unconscionable if they're blocking reviewers who didn't purchase the book on amazon. Although in two of the letters I received, the fans claimed that they did.

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  13. Thank you for the blog. You're right -- this definitely is not an isolated incident. One self-pubbed friend of my had 375 reviews and lost 20 in one day. I had 116 legitimate reviews and have been knocked down to 108. They keep dropping off, too. We have to recourse because Amazon is king. I used to trust them, but now I wish we had another king.

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    1. 20 reviews lost! Yikes!! So apparently I'm not the only case of this happening.

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  14. I find this incredibly disturbing. I've been a contributor in 3 anthologies since 2007, but JUST started posting e-books with Amazon this week. It's scary to think I could lose this outlet when I'm barely getting my writing career off the ground. Please do keep us posted on your progress.

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  15. I have a question. Did the fans buy the book from Amazon? Amazon is cracking down on those who purchase the book elsewhere but review it on Amazon. This is due to authors asking friends and relatives who may have received review copies to post a review on Amazon.

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  16. I lost more than 20 reviews all at once, some of which were from Vine and Top-1000 reviewers. Definitely not sock puppets and not associated in any way with my books. Amazon refused to enter into a discussion.

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  17. Ditto what anonymous above me said. I've lost over 20 reviews so far and they refuse to tell me what is going on. Mind come from reviewers who are vetted through other outlets (twitter, book blogs, etc). I gave away thousands of copies of my books for reviews. And of course it's only the people who gave positive reviews that are being deleted. There are people who I gave copies of my book to under the same circumstances and if they left 4 stars or under, their reviews aren't being deleted. Amazon has also allowed some negative troll reviews to remain unremoved. By no means do I think all my negative reviews are trolls, but I know for a fact (and have given them evidence) that 3 of the reviews are. But those reviews remain while they take down legitimate positive reviews. I think it's being done automatically. It seems to be taking 1-2 reviews down every 8-12 hours. I know THREE other authors experiencing the same thing right now too.

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  18. Here's something to think about too:

    Amazon is a PUBLISHER now.

    Is it in their best interest for books by OTHER publishers (self or otherwise) to have lots of great reviews?

    I bet the books THEY published aren't losing any of their positive reviews.

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  20. For people asking about verified purchases, it makes no difference. Those are being yanked as well.

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  21. Yup, two of the fans who had reviews yanked said they bought the book on Amazon. I contacted Author Central- nothing so far. I'll post when/if they respond.

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  22. I stopped shopping at Amazon (except for MP3 downloads) two years ago when I got a Nook. If I hadn't already, this would be enough to make me take my business elsewhere.

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  23. This is beyond frightening, and the information needs to go viral. I have enough trouble scraping up reviews, and have just recently become involved with an Author Review Group on Goodreads. The reviews are supposed to be posted on Amazon. Now I'm wondering it that will even happen!
    I do know that Amazon now asks if the book was purchased on Amazon, but the only outcome from that that I can see is a new disclaimer above the review that reads: "Amazon verified purchase" (or something like that). Michelle, please keep us all informed; especially if you are able to actually talk with someone at Author Central about this. Best of luck!

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  24. I don't mean books published through/on amazon (self published) I mean books published BY amazon. As in Amazon playing the roll of Harper Collins. ( http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/48259-all-eyes-on-amazon-publishing.html )

    I doubt they would yank their own books. I doubt they would yank positive reviews on those books either.

    Yes, verified purchases are being yanked, too. I'm thinking of taking my business elsewhere in lieu of this realisation.

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  25. I bought a book earlier this year, loved it, and left a positive review. I don't know the author and have no financial stake in anything he does. Amazon deleted the review this week. When I contacted them to politely ask why, they said my account is related to another reviewer (????)... but it isn't!

    If you haven't seen the fake reviews on Amazon about binders full of women, search binders and read away. Here is one link below. Why is Amazon leaving these fake reviews up and pulling regular reader reviews?

    http://www.amazon.com/Avery-Economy-Binder-1-Inch-Round/product-reviews/B000V99JYI/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R2D27SEK9R23O8

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  26. Jane:
    "Why is Amazon leaving these fake reviews up and pulling regular reader reviews?"

    Because they have motive to delete positive book reviews on other books now. They started their own publishing house. I'm not talking about the publishing platform. I'm talking about their publishing HOUSE. One such book published through them is Angelfall (published through "Amazon Children's Publishing").

    917 reviews and 4.6 average, which is great, except if you look at the reviews on that book you will see people who rate that book excellent then rate other books in the genre very poorly.

    I know people have different tastes in books, but should we believe that everyone who loves Angelfall then hates any other book that is doing well in that genre? And I don't see amazon deleting any of the positive reviews on that book.

    Why? Because they have something to gain by keeping any positive reviews on that book, as well as something to gain by deleting positive reviews from other competing books.

    There is a conflict of interest. How many other book stores are also publishers? Only Amazon, as far as I know. Of course publishers also have online stores with their own titles, but that is different from carrying all titles but some of those titles being YOUR OWN.

    I can't speak for everyone but think of it this way: If you go to site X which is maker of product X and see tons of great reviews, do you ever wonder if they are allowing the ratings to be skewed? Meanwhile, imagine now that they carry other products of the same category, and are deleting positive reviews from those products only? What conclusion would you make?

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  27. I can't believe this. What nerve. I love reading my fellow RWA member books and just because I'm an author doesn't mean I don't read and posting reviews is helpful...how can it be not helpful for Amazon to sell books? Big brother thinking is scary. Makes me question adding another book to KDP.

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  28. I completely agree, the fact that Amazon now has their own publishing line and is removing reviews is a clear conflict of interest. And I suspect that they're not removing reviews on books in their line.

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  29. Btw, Author Central sent this response:
    Hello,

    I understand your concerns about these missing reviews. We take the removal of customer reviews very seriously.

    I'm not able to tell you why these specific reviews were removed from our website. I can only discuss that with the person who wrote each review. However, I can tell you that reviews are removed from the Amazon.com website for three reasons:

    1. The review conflicted with our posted guidelines http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines/.
    2. The review was removed at the request of the customer who submitted the review.
    3. We discovered that multiple items were linked together on our website incorrectly. Reviews that were posted on those pages were removed when the items were separated on the site.

    I hope this information helps. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

    Not helpful, since none of the above applies to the removed reviews.

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  30. I found your blog through stgrb:
    http://stopthegrbullies.com/2012/10/20/amazon-customer-care-droids/

    It seems as though this is happening to a lot of authors.

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  31. Btw, that response you got from Author Central is not genuine. It came from Amazon's blurb index. Stgrb talks about it on their post.

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  32. Customer care droids- this is definitely even more insidious than I thought. Thanks for the link, I'm glad it got picked up elsewhere, and there was a lot of eye opening info on the STGRB blog.

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  33. Jane- the binders full of woman reviews are indeed entertaining, but you're right- hundreds of those fake reviews on the site, and yet legit reviews are being yanked. I would love to see a justification of this from Amazon. But despite all attempts to get a straight answer by phone or email, they refuse to say anything but, "this is the last we have to say on this matter." Which is creepily parental.

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  35. The same thing happened to me yesterday. A review from way back in 2010 disappeared. I happen to know the reviewer via email. Not a professional reviewer, not paid, just a reader who liked my book. He got exactly the same response your fan got when he contacted Amazon, which he did first to query the removal and again to deny he had violated their terms in any way. He's just a reader, for crying out loud! He found the fact Amazon refused to specify his so-called violation incredibly frustrating. This is the fourth of my reviews to be removed in the past four weeks and all of them were published years ago.

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  36. Merrie, I don't think we are talking about the same thing.

    You are talking about books published through amazon's self-publishing platform. This is different than books THEY publish through their publishing HOUSE.

    Here's how you can tell the difference: in the details section, a self published title will say "Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc." That means the book was publishing THROUGH Amazon. If a book is published BY amazon, it will say:
    Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

    Other amazon imprints include:
    47North, Thomas & Mercer, Montlake Romance, AmazonEncore, and AmazonCrossing.

    If you are published BY amazon, this means that Amazon bought your book cover and paid for your editing.

    When I look up your books, Merrie, it shows this:
    Publisher: Merrie Destefano
    Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

    That means you are published THROUGH Amazon's self publishing platform, not published BY one of Amazon's imprints.

    Hope this clears that up. When I say they aren't doing this to books published by Amazon, I mean they a aren't doing it to books that are published by one of their imprints. They are absolutely doing it to self publishers who publish through them.

    Does that make more sense?

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  37. Count me in as a reviewer who left a review, three times (assuming a glitch)and it was a very positive review. I inquired as to why and received those same emails, including the one threatening to remove the *author's book* if I pursued the matter. I have no financial interest in that book and stated that. I also reminded them that I am a long-time, loyal customer who has spent a *lot* of money on their site. Guess they don't care about that either. I review a lot of books and have a high score so why this particular book was in contention, I simply don't understand.

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  38. It can't be about authors reviewing authors. Top 500 reviewer Eric Wilson, with 1,002 reviews to his name, is an author: www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1CHM200OEN65X/

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  39. I am an author and in the past three days, two of my reviews have been taken down. They were five star reviews and they weren't from relatives, nor were they paid for. I have gotten no response as to why, and I don't even know who the reviewers were so I can't ask them.

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  40. As I posted on Passive Guy's blog:
    I would just like to point out that Amazon published authors like myself (Thomas and Mercer) are NOT immune from reviews being removed by Amazon. I have had several reviews removed (all 4 and 5 star) with no rhyme or reason.

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  41. Come to really think of it, what makes a review from a relative or a friend 'fake'? Do reviews now follow a specific rule? Aren't they generally based on opinions, and don't those opinions depend on a varying number of reasons? If my mother reads my new book and is impressed with it (despite what YOU may think of it), why should she be restricted from showing her enthusiasm? If she decides to base her review on the strength of that impression, why should she be stopped? She still possesses 'rights' as a reader and as a person, or does being the mother of an author now suddenly kill those rights? If that is the case, is it a bad thing to be the mother of an author? Is it even a crime to be at all related to an author?
    Does Amazon expect our family and friends to run away from us?
    We all know that 'family and friends' are invaluable assets in our journey through life. Now if those who are supposed to be a blessing to us become detrimental to our success, what is our industry turning into?

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  42. As an author, I can tell you it happening all over the place. I have seen posts from dozens of authors who have had what appear to be legitimate reviews removed. I have no objection whatsoever to FAKE reviews being removed, but this thing with removing real ones and then treating the reviewer like a criminal is bad.

    The explanation seems to be that they are using some arbitrary factors such as two reviewers posting reviews from the same IP address (hello... family members ma do this) or using gift cards or posting reviews the same day they buy the book (some of are fast readers you know). They seem to think that they'll catch fake reviews that way and don't mind the collateral damage, but the collateral damage may be more than they thought.

    Reviews need to be cleaned up but this isn't the way.

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  43. Just to clarify - I'm not the only Amazon published author that is missing reviews. So to say that
    "they're not removing reviews on books in their line" is not correct.

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  44. Amazon Publishing authors are losing reviews, too. I lost 15 on THE WALK today.

    Lee

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  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  46. I agree that it's very likely that Amazon is doing this level of data mining. However, would a three degrees of separation link to someone justify removing a review? How about four? I frequently review friends' books--not because I like them, but because I liked their book (and if I don't like the book, I don't review it, period). Also, Amazon actively encourages authors to review each others' works. For instance, check out this review of Michael Koryta's book THE PROPHET by Dean Koontz, posted at the top of the book page as an "Amazon Review":
    http://www.amazon.com/Prophet-Michael-Koryta/dp/0316122610/ref=la_B001IOFBB0_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350944651&sr=1-1

    Dean and Michael most likely know each other- most of the people in our field do. He received a similar interview from Steve Hamilton for an earlier book. Yet despite the fact that there's a personal relationship, not only are these reviews present, they're given prime placement. So, by that reasoning, if they're trusting these authors ability to maintain professionalism, why not other reviewers? Where, precisely, are they drawing the line, and why? That's the kind of explanation I feel is owed to every author that has had reviews pulled off their book pages.

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  47. Not to mention the fact that if that level of data mining is occurring, it's disturbing in and of itself.

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  48. "woefully overkill'?! I thought you were writers?

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  49. Just throwing my own experience in here. I found one of my reviews was removed over the weekend also. It was actually my very first review and from a friend- a friend who bought the book on her own and, unsolicited, left a review. She has left reviews for other books as well. The review has been up for 10 months and was perfectly legit. I have no idea why hers was removed. I find it equally disturbing that Amazon is being so reluctant to answer writers' and readers' concerns regarding this.

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  50. Does anyone want to give Amazon a lesson on IP addresses? You cannot use IP addresses as identification. They are logical addresses given by whichever router happens to be your upstream router at the time. IP addresses are not static. Many access points assign individual private addresses behind their router. So all of a sudden everyone who works at the same company or goes to the same internet cafe has the same IP address as far as Amazon is concerned. I'm really surprised they don't know this. The only way to correlate from IP address to physical location is to ask the service provider what the MAC address is at the customer premise. This also depends on WHEN the request is made as IP addresses can change each time the customer premise equipment resets. Logical addresses are not physical addresses. So tracking reviewers and claiming relatedness by IP address is inherently misleading. Why do they not get this simple fact of networking? IP Address is Layer 3. You want identification of location? Use MAC address (which can be spoofed so this is no proof either, but at least most people don't know how to spoof their MACs). The MAC address can also change depending on whether the computer is using its radio or its Ethernet connection, but hey, who'd expect Amazon to understand?

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  51. Lee Goldberg, you are not an Amazon Publishing author. You are an indie author (who appears to be signed with a small publishing house called Five Star) and your book was published THROUGH Amazon. This is different than being published BY Amazon. Please see my early posts to understand this better.

    Traci Hohenstein, you are the first who appears to be an actual Amazon Published author having this experience. I wonder if the reviews are being deleted automatically. They seem be deleting older reviews, am I right? I suspect that they are deleting reviews posted by anyone who hasn't been on amazon in x amount of days.

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  52. Even more disturbing than the missing reviews... If I'm reading this correctly, Amazon is threatening to remove the book in question from their site if reviewers question having the reviews pulled? So, essentially, an unscrupulous competing author could eliminate his competition by posting multiple, questionable reviews, waiting for said reviews to be pulled, and then raising questions about the process? That's scary!

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  53. Anon -
    Lee Goldberg has been published by Thomas and Mercer - which is an Amazon Publishing imprint.

    And yes, all the reviews that are missing were old reviews. Further investigation on my part reveals that these reviews may have come within the same IP address. The other review missing - I'm not so sure about.

    I agree with the above post. It is very disturbing to think your book can be pulled because of the actions of a third party.

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  54. Amazon Publishing has 6 imprints: 47North, Thomas & Mercer, Montlake Romance, AmazonEncore, AmazonCrossing, and Amazon Children's Publishing. If a book is released under any of those imprints, the book is published BY Amazon.

    More info: http://tinyurl.com/3m4vdxg

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  55. hi Traci, when I looked him up I didn't see any books published by T & M. My mistake for not looking hard enough.

    Joe, yep, I said the same thing a little bit ago.

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  56. I'm published with Montlake Romance, one of Amazon Publishing imprints, and I just lost a review yesterday. Likely, it's an old review as the book has been out for nearly a year. There are 120+ reviews on the book, so I have no idea the rating or reviewer involved. But I've heard other Amazon Publishing authors with more recent releases distressing over vanishing reviews for the past few days.

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  57. This needs some publicity (HuffingtonPost or New York Times, anyone?) and maybe a class-action lawsuit. Amazon ain't playing fair with authors or readers/reviewers.

    Maybe authors on Amazon's publishing platform need to start pulling their books from Amazon & moving over to Nook. Instead of Amazon threatening to yank books, authors need to yank the rug out from under Amazon.

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    Replies
    1. Better late than never?

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/technology/amazon-book-reviews-deleted-in-a-purge-aimed-at-manipulation.html

      (yet another anon)

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  58. A review I posted several months ago went missing from a book.

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  59. I wrote about this recently, and a month or so back, as I've had multiple reviews removed for all of my books. Amazon removing reviews has been going on for a while, but it seems worse since the whole John Locke and buying reviews debacle. My blog followers have some interesting stories to tell:
    http://tobecomeawriter.com/indie-authors-john-locke-book-reviews/
    I just talked to an author today who said that Amazon told a reviewer that if the book was not purchased through Amazon, he couldn't post a review. I don't know if this is true or not, but obviously something is afoot, and it's not all good.
    This is also the first I've heard of Amazon threatening to remove a book...
    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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  60. I have read that Amazon will even wipe out your account (all ebooks, including those you purchased) for any reason they deem fit and you have no recourse. It's making me rethink buying kindle books and perhaps wonder if I shouldn't be looking into getting a Nook instead. I have several thousand books on my kindle. It seems as though they are turning into a playground bully.

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  61. That's exactly right, Lauren- here's a link to a story about it happening recently: http://www.bekkelund.net/2012/10/22/outlawed-by-amazon-drm/

    And it's truly alarming.

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  62. I plan to take my business elsewhere because of this activity. The deleted one of my reviews and told me it was because my account was related to another account that reviewed the book, which isn't even possible. I asked for evidence, because I knew they wouldn't have any. They just emailed me back saying the same thing again, still no evidence. I wrote the author who I reviewed for, and she said she knew who each review belonged to because she had so few and had to find people who had the time to review it, but because she knew this, she knew only 1 review could be mine because she knew the rest belonged to other people. Amazon just made up an excuse and it's hurting her sales. Now they won't let me post any reviews to any books! If this is how they repay someone who spends thousands of dollars with them each year, I will take my business elsewhere. I'm done with Amazon. I'm asking for a Nook for Christmas and buying my books through Barnes and Noble from now on.

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  63. Yeah looking at building a new book seller site for Authors next year, Dollar a book fee structure, no other fees or commissions or holding funds. It is the only way, though i have to say it will not have ebooks for less than 5.99, or books less than 12.00 allowed to be listed, the Amazon $2 junk shop covers that well enough, and to sell ebooks you must have paper books listed and in stock. Indie authors pay an average of 12+ just to get one printed in the low hundreds. So it stops people who write word docs about Bill and Ben meet the alien vampire zombi and call it an ebook, destroying the prices of books that had editors and thousands in artwork for covers and money spent on printing. We will be leaving the 0.99 cent books for people to troll trough the "actual millions" of them. and helping out the authors, greed kills sales, making millions holding funds then charging per sale is the height of theft (iBook)We need a book selling site for Indie Authors who did spend time and money on print, those who believe their book at >99cents will make millions will of course have no trouble printing on receipt of those millions and then join the site. Hopefully it will be up and running by dec 2013 fully. and you can kiss Amazon goodbye.

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  64. I do post an occasional review on Amazon when I simply like a book. After all, I was a reader long before I was ever an author. If denied that opportunity, however, I'm going to post them to my blog and then promote it. It won't have the same reach as Amazon, which is what we want,but it is one alternative.

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  65. This has happened to a 1 1/2 doz of my reviews as well. They had removed it, given the same reason even though I never received any financial compensation for those reviews. And some for books I bought from AMZN & never resell! Authors & publishers are the biggest losers. Next - AMZN itself.

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  66. Thanks so much for posting this, Michelle. I googled the words "Amazon deleting reviews," and it brought me to your site. I had no idea others were experiencing what I have been going through for the past six weeks with Amazon arbitrarily removing legitimate five star reviews and reviewers having a hard time posting. The emails you received from Amazon were worded exactly as stated with Amazon telling my reviewers that if they continued their complaints, they would remove MY books. This is beyond frustrating but I'm happy to know I'm not the only one going through this...is there anything we can do to stop this unfair practice?

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  67. I really wish there was something we could do-I'm debating writing a Huff Post about it, but am slammed with deadlines at the moment. It's incredibly frustrating, though, and I suspect it will only get worse over time.

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  68. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  69. Author Jaz Primo just shared this link. This happend to me today. Amazon removed 3 reviews from 4 of books. My husband(ex)-eh I'll let that slip, but my cousin? really. Then they threatened that if there were more violations they would remove my books! Any author or freind of a "jerk" author could be a direct competitor - so how will they modorate that? I know for a fact that a few authors gave me bad reviews on goodreads then why not Amazon. This will only bring our ratings down as those who love our books and yes they could be family, are not permited to post. BTW I don't always get 5 stars from family members- and no they don't make a penny from my sales.
    A. Jacob Sweeny

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  70. Michelle, I wrote about this over at DoSomeDamage.com today. Was thinking it was limited. I usually read Kill Zone every day, so it's surprising I missed this.
    Nice to know I'm not alone, but not all that nice, you know.

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  71. Hi Steve-

    Thanks for the link- it's really astonishing how widespread this has become. Sorry you had the same experience.

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  72. You might double check to make sure the reviews are actually being deleted. One author I know said he had all 3 of his reviews removed (he only had 3)and he was a bit distraught over it until several of us let him know that we could still see those 3 reviews up from our side.
    I'm not sure why he isn't able to see them but all 3 that he was talking about are still there. Refreshed the page cleared caching and refreshed again just to make sure and they still show.
    So, it could be that they are just not showing for some people which means it is in the algorithm that Amazon uses.
    I've got my Nexus 7 now and I can get to all my Kindle books from there as well as I'm now buying books from the Google Play Store which in my opinion is a better experience than Amazon for reading. I could add the B&N app but I refuse since 2 years ago they signed me up for auto-renew of their membership in-store when I was not aware of it. I caught it this year and was quite angry so B&N get's zero business from me.
    I will still buy from Amazon though because Google isn't set up for Indy authors and I've actually been enjoying a lot of eBook only authors like Hugh Howey and William Hertling who only do self publishing and eBook and are really just a breath of fresh air to read. I do hope Google finds a way for them to put their stuff up on Google Play though because I would buy through there first.

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  73. Late to the party. Just blogged about it.

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  74. I have a book on Amazon and at one time had twelve five star reviews mostly from strangers but one from my son who lives in another city and bought the book with his own credit card and had it sent to his own home. Seven of my five star reviews including my son's disappeared. My son tried to put his back on and it wouldn't take. They left my three one star reviews, naturally:(
    Thankfully, I still have five 5 star reviews, but I don't know how long they will remain...Calling Amazon is a waste of time, they give no answers.

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  75. I've had positive reviews of my books yanked too. It's very unsettling, and it's cutting indie authors at the knees. Funny how I don't see Harriet Klausner's reviews being removed even when she posts seventy-plus for new releases in one day. I haven't heard anyone say his or her review for one of the Big 6 books has been removed either. Every glowing review I've written for my faves are all in tact. This is all very troubling. And I didn't know until I read your comments that Amazon actually operates as a publishing house for some book companies. I smell a serious conflict of interest there. I really hate that this is happening because I've enjoyed Amazon and the KDP program. As an earlier commenter said, now I really wish another KING would enter the biz and help shake Amazon up.

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  76. Michelle did those amazon droids finally erase one of your books? I noticed one your 2012 books is not available in any format on the US amazon.com (though seems to be available as ebook in amazon uk):

    Frayeur

    http://www.amazon.com/Frayeur-Michelle-Gagnon/dp/228024828X/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1352619957&sr=1-8



    On any account if amazon keeps doing what its doing --this will pave the way for others to gain ground against them (bn,apple etc)

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  77. I had a review I just wrote on somebody else's book disappear hours after it was posted and I'm so mad I'm spitting stones. I -bought- the e-book from them, read it, and then left a review.

    Then I googled 'Amazon deleting reviews' and came to this blog. Went back, emailed them a second time, and let them know that since they deleted my reviews, I had just gone into my customer account and deleted my order for $75 worth of non-ebook Christmas merchandise I had ordered earlier that day (ironically, the only reason I noticed the review disappeared was because I went back in to order even MORE Christmas merchandise from them.

    Walmart and Target aren't getting my business because they force their employees to work on Thanksgiving...

    And now Amazon isn't getting my business because they deleted my review. How dare they? I put a lot of thought into that review! Big corporations aren't going to pay attention until you make it cost them money.

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  78. I know, Anna, it's incredibly frustrating. And the fact that they don't seem to want to take the extra time to sort out real from fake reviews, even after someone writes to complain, is truly upsetting.

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  79. As someone on the outside of this whole situation looking in, I have to wonder, how can one or two or five "maybe fake" reviews of a book be any more important than the forty or fifty or sixty or more other, legitimate reviews?

    How is this any different than the review excerpts printed directly on the book? I challenge you to go into a bookstore and find a book which has a less than "glowing" one-liner printed either on its front or back cover.

    Isn't it on the buyer's head to research the product they are buying further than just "ILoveThisAuthorsStuff38131"'s 5-star review with 900 helpful votes?

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    Replies
    1. Big name authors get dozens or even hundreds of review. Small authors might only get a half dozen, or even less.

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  80. Amazon is deleting legitimate positive reviews without any sort of trial or explanation and allowing fraudulent negative reviews to remain, even though they are clearly from competitors or from people who clearly haven't read the book in question. And now they are removing the tags that help readers find books.

    What else are they going to do to destroy the independent author market?

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  81. A lot of authors are reporting that the wrongful removal of positive reviews is killing their sales because Amazon allows the fraudulent negative reviews to remain. What kind of business model is this where a company tries to destroy revenue from its own vendors?

    Amazon needs to reinstate all reviews ASAP.

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  82. Amazon does not explain itself. Ever. And knee-jerk is basically how it operates. I have over 100 books for sale on Amazon. Last year my account was abruptly cancelled. It took me a few days to find out why. It seemed one of their automated systems found one of my books on a free site somewhere (not authorized), and because of that they cancelled my account. After some explanations and proof I actually did own the rights to the book in question and had not authorized it on a free site my account was reinstated. Likewise, on occasion a book I submit for sale will be rejected for violating guidelines. Amazon will not explain how it violates guidelines, or what part of it violates what guideline, or even if it's the story as opposed to the cover picture. You go through the book, trying to figure out why, change the cover photo, make some changes, and hope it passes next time. Best you can do. Amazon does not explain itself to mere mortals, even those who have sold tens of thousands of books on their site (with much profit for them). There isn't even a contact number. By comparison, your phone company or cable company have outstanding customer service. And yes, I have noticed I have also lost positive reviews. But the 1 star reviews, however unfair, however untrue, remain in place.

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  83. Really sad to read that, maybe this is some Amazon policy to remove books without any valid reason.
    Amazon Top Reviewers

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