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.

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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 amazon.com” 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!

21 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 Amazon.com is the biggest…it prevents some authors from geting the support or notice they deserve. Those living in other countries can’t buy from Amazon.com 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….

  4. Anne Copeland says:

    Hi Claire and All, And this is not the only thing Amazon is doing. Previously we were published under CreateSpace.com, which Amazon Kindle Direct Publishers owns anyway, and suddenly they are wanting us to take our manuscripts off there and put them on Amazon, and we can then never again put back on CreateSpace.com. AND, even more disturbing, they say that we cannot sell our books via any other sources except if we buy some ourselves and distribute them freely to other people, etc.

    Like you and many others, I am not a wealthy woman, and cannot afford things like this, and also, this move of theirs has created more issues than Carter has little liver pills. We also have those advertising cards that have all the places where they can get our books, so now we have to have all new ones posted up. This cuts out people with disabilities who have very little income too, which is a form of discrimination in my mind.

    And here’s another thing I am experiencing. My hardback book worked just fine in CreateSpace.com, and now that I have to shift it, the cover measurements are no longer working, and they will reject the book if it doesn’t fit their requirements. So really frustrating. I cannot afford to have anyone else redo it for me, or to buy the new advertising cards, so it will look trashy if I have to mark them up so I can use them.

    I don’t know, but some of this stuff doesn’t feel right in my mind. Peace, Anne

    • claire plaisted says:

      Where doe sit say we can’t sell via any other source? I’ve not seen that as yet. Meanwhile, companies grow, change and always leave someone behind. There isn’t much anyone can do about it. From what I know KDP Print will be linked to Createspace and move them over for you, therefore they should also make sure they fit their criteria…Here is hoping for you. I use LULU for books, might be a tad more expensive however they do have discounts you can put in. I have blogged about uploading there. They also distribute. I dont’ advise using their packages however due to who they are linked with for this. Good luck

      • Anne Copeland says:

        Hi Claire, Wish all that were true, but it is not. WE have to move them from one to the other ourselves, and also if you go on KDP Print and read their stuff about publishing with them, you will see what I mean about not being able to sell with any other publishers, etc. They do offer some alternatives to help you sell more books supposedly, but each one is very expensive (at least for me), and so I am feeling very confined. Yes, it is all not good. We started with Lulu and they had all these stupid rules about us not being able to have the photos in our book unless we could give them permissions for every single book. Of course we had the agreement, and we had worked with each of these women for more than 10 years (physically challenged fiber artists) and they were all my good friends. But two of them had now died, and so I could hardly write them again to get the permission again. All the permissions were lost when I got a new computer (the old one died) and the person who installed the files lost half my stuff. Anyway, after going round with them, I could not deal with them any longer. I have said if I have photos in my book, it is my responsibility if anyone complains, not the publisher, and I have never had that issue before with any other publisher. I used to be in publishing too, both as editor, and running a small publisher of books on monetary theory, so I do know some things. I looked it up legally and the way we were doing it is OK. So I am hoping now we don’t run into any more issues as I don’t think I can deal with it, and so it means that our book that WAS published and WAS selling will just sit. I have no money to work with Lulu and don’t want to work with them again as they are not at all service-oriented to their customers. The men we worked with were fine, but the women were really nasty with us, and that is when we switched to Createspace.com and Amazon.com. Just hoping for the best right now.

        Thank you for doing good work. Who is Lulu linked with? I don’t remember any of it. Yes, Amazon is not doing any of the work for us. I had a Bowker ISBN that I paid for, so could not even transfer directly from CreateSpace.com to Amazon.com. Very tiring and frustrating.

      • claire plaisted says:

        Once again….KDP will move your books if you don’t. Here is the line from the email I received.

        In a few weeks, we’ll start automatically moving your CreateSpace books to KDP. Your books will remain available for sale throughout the move and you’ll continue to earn royalties. Once we begin this process you’ll be unable to edit existing titles or create new titles on CreateSpace.

        I have always found LULU excellent with customer services and much better than Createspace and KDP. I will look into the – where you can sell part later today.

        Thanks

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