Amazon Review Privilege by Guest Blogger, May Dawney

Introducing May Dawney you recently put this post up in a group on Facebook. It is a good read and it certainly makes you think.  Please remember nobody is picking on anyone. It is an observation made which affects those writers and businesses – like me, who live outside the USA.
Thank you, May Dawney, for this great article.

Amazon Pulls Another Stunt.


Amazon has decided that anyone who wants to leave a review on a book or other article has to have spent a minimum of $50 in that store, in a 12 month period. I’m not happy about it, but I get it. That’s not what I want to discuss. We all have our opinion on the topic and all are valid and appreciated. I have, however, noticed something I would like to address: please check your privilege before you post on these topics.
#1 Maybe $50 is not a lot for you. Great! Some reviewers had to scrape by to get that money for weeks, or months, or years, and they are devastated they’ll have to do it yearly now. Having $50 to spend on non-essentials like books is a privilege. Please, keep that in mind.
#2 Not all reviewers are in the US. If they want to review on .com and their home store like before, they now have to spend $ 100 a year. See #1.
#3 Non-US reviewers can’t buy e-books in the .com store. They have to buy something physical over $50 and have that shipped over (usually at ridiculous costs) to meet the $ 50 requirement. For them, $50 is not $50. It’s a hassle and it’s frustrating. Also: see #1--if you’re already scraping by and $50 becomes $70 because of shipping, it’s tough. People outside of the US also pay an import tax of 10 – 21 percent, depending on the country, on any purchase over a certain value, so a $ 50 order can quickly turn into a $ 100 one.
#4 Not every author gets a ton of reviews, period, let alone in the US store. If you do, that’s a privilege. Saying “Oh, I can stand to lose a few” is not true for everyone. Please, keep that in mind.
#5 Not every author is most popular in the US. Some have predominantly UK (or EU, or NZ, or Asian) readers. Promo sites look almost exclusively at the US store to see if a book qualifies, and this new rule thus skewers the odds of a good promo like Bookbub in the favor of authors with a US reader/reviewer base. If you are one, and you won’t be affected by the changes in this way, then please check your privilege again.
#6 .com reviews are pushed out across all Amazon stores as “Reviewed on” reviews until that store gathers five reviews of its own. It does not work the other way around. Say I have twenty reviews on UK, they won’t show up on .co if I have less than five there. See #5 about why this is a problem and the disadvantages enforced by the new system.
If you’re an author with a predominantly Us-based review base, please realize that you have been given an advantage by this new rule. If you are an author with predominantly US-based readers, please realize you have been given and advantage by this new rule. Please also realize that if you fall in either of these categories, you had a head-start to begin with, because Amazon hasn’t rolled out Kindle Unlimited or AMS ads in all areas. You were already ahead of the pack and now you’ve been given an even greater head-start. No one is saying that people who fall into either category haven’t worked hard to get there, nor that reviews are the pinnacle of authorship. Lots of things sell a book. What is important is that to some people, reviews are very important and Amazon has instituted a rule that makes it harder for some to get .com reviews than others in a system where .com reviews are more important. This matters, and it matters to some more than others.

Please, check your privilege!

17 thoughts on “Amazon Review Privilege by Guest Blogger, May Dawney

  1. robbiesinspiration says:

    I read this with great interest. I live in South Africa so physical books have to be couriered as Amazon doesn’t use the postal system here [with good reason]. This makes it very expensive to buy physical books. Audio books and ebooks are fine though and I don’t have any problems buying these from Amazon US.

  2. jjspina says:

    Thank you for sharing this informative post. Amazon is at it again. When will it end with the giant? The giant lords over the little people and continually crushes us. I have no trouble spending $50 a year around the holidays but the rest of the year I just buy mostly ebooks. If they keep upping the amount I will be in trouble. Reviews are at a premium. We all need them but fewer readers will be able to afford to review. Sad to say! Sigh! We an we do?

  3. Greg Smith says:

    I have a different opinion – this is good for authors. Too long have “privileged” authors been able to purchase reviews at $1 per review. Offshore companies have created thousands of fake Amazon accounts that never purchase anything so that fake reviews can be written for books that have never been purchased. This raises their rankings on Amazon giving them an unfair advantage.

    Now, only people who have actually purchased books will be able to review them. This means all my “honest” reviews have merit. And it’s an end to “fake” reviews. This levels the playing field for me – the honest writer who can’t afford to buy my way to the top of the review list.

    Good for Amazon for taking action.

    • claire plaisted says:

      I like your opinion Greg, though I have issues with AMazon. To a degree what they have done it good. However with not been able to put all the reviews in one spot or on every store – of which is the biggest…it prevents some authors from geting the support or notice they deserve. Those living in other countries can’t buy from unless they don’t have an Amazon Store in their country. Being in NZ means I can review on .com but now I can’t review the same book on UK…In fact now I can’t afford to review on Amazon at all due to the $50 or 50 pounds needed to be spent. As far as I’m concerned If you have a verified purchase you should be allowed to review. It shouldn’t matter the cost and it shouldn’t be limited to those who can afford the big spend. To me it is makes it look like Amazon is making me pay to review…Now if they bought it down to $10 then I could work with that. Like many Indie Authors and small business I’m not rich and don’t spend much on Amazon…needless to say I’ll review elsewhere. To be told that I have to buy $50 worth of books (or something else) just to review is beyond a joke.

      Fake reviews like Trolls will always be around. I doubt anything will stop them. They will find their way around this within six months. It is just more fun for them to find a way.

      Of course this is only my opinion 🙂 Thank you for your comment.

    • claire plaisted says:

      They can still review for you in their own country where they bought their book. I think what the main issue is…America has the biggest impact sales wise for products. It is like going into a store in one town and not been allowed to review in the other at the same store. To make this easy Amazon could do one review site for all products they sell worldwide….

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