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Far From Flatbush

Amazon Absurd

Though I've had my issues with Amazon in the past, I want to make it clear that what I'm about to say has not affected me personally. Amazon has not deleted any reviews of my books and they have not deleted any reviews that I've written about other people's books. However, an article, "Amazon Tackles Review Problem, Deletes Wrong Reviews," by Suw Charman-Anderson, that ran last month on Forbes.com, is both disturbing and sounds typical of the way that Amazon does business.

Here are the main points of the piece:

· Amazon has changed its customer reviews guidelines.

· According to customers who posted reviews for a book by Michelle Gagnon, either the reviews never appeared or they were deleted.

· When these customers complained, Amazon told them that they “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,” and they “will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on this matter.”

· When one of the customers told Amazon that they had no “relationship or financial interest in the book,” Amazon then told Gagnon, the author of the book in question, that they’d remove her book from the site if the customer complained again.

· Another author, Steve Weddle, received a similar e-mail from Amazon when he attempted to post a review for a book by Chad Rohrbacher, whom he knows personally.

· This is apparently happening on a wide scale.

· Bottom line: Amazon now appears to be forbidding authors from posting reviews because it sees all authors as direct competitors with other authors. In the meantime, Amazon has done nothing about fake reviews, written by reviewers for hire, that have flooded the site.

One can only hope that Amazon recognizes the absurdity of their review policy and corrects it promptly.
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