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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Publishers Fake Reviews on Amazon

The Daily Mail had an article on Monday about how publishers are paying PR agencies to write favourable reviews and put them on Amazon. Nathan Barker of Reputation 24/7 offers a service starting at £5000. "We'd say we like this book but add a tiny bit of criticism and compare it to another book." Barker claims this is common practice in the publishing industry.

Well, I'm pretty sure none of my Amazon reviews have been paid for by the publisher. And I'm glad. If my publishers were to think the book so bad that they need to pay someone to write me good reviews then they can't have much confidence in the book!

I have the usual mix of reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and Librarything - some love it, some like it less. This is normal as the public has idiosyncratic reading tastes. The women in my book group don't all love the books I do, even if they are well-written, thoughtfully edited and brilliantly marketed.

I usually click on the reviewer to see what else they have reviewed if I am reading a review. Some reviewers review up to twenty books a month. Are they reading all these? Big Warning Bell.

However - I am grateful to the readers who have made the time and effort to review The Lady's Slipper with their genuine thoughts, particularly in the US where I know not a soul. I am grateful for anyone who raises its profile and opens debate about it, whether the review is good or bad, and don't take it too personally. We can't all like the same books!

More debate on a similar topic can be found at a post by writer Eliza Graham at  Macmillan New Writers


  1. This is of course disgraceful. I suppose the only up-side is that someone somewhere is taking Amazon reviews very seriously.

  2. I have mixed feelings about this. I'm not sure I object to publishers' paying for reviews per se, but I definitely object to their misrepresenting those reviews as reader comments. I understand the need for publicity and that increasingly Amazon reviews, Blog posts, and on-line comments are a force of public influence. But misrepresentation seems like not only an ethical problem but potentially a violation of Amazon's Terms of Use for their reviews.

  3. This is the nature of the Internet. As the engineering crowd puts it, noise tends to crowd out signal.

    If the web were a vehicle for honest expression, it would have been long suppressed. It's a vehicle for commerce, and we're all hitchhikers.

  4. Hi David, Frances nd Nevets,
    I reckon David's right. Eliza had the best idea - to give up witing books and write the reviews for the PR comany instead!