So, Amazon are in the middle of changing their review policy. The details are here and here. As are all the Terminator jokes you might expect. Some of what they’re talking about is both good and slightly disturbing; surely ‘You bought the product you’re reviewing’ is the minimum height requirement for being able to review it, after all. Then there’s the decision to remove reviews written by friends of authors. By the way if you get a nice man talking to you about how an HTC phone is really like a Mustang on that link I’m really sorry. That site apparently thinks autoplay ads are what all the cool kids are doing and can’t hear them all yelling that isn’t true because of…well… all the noise from their autoplay ads.
Anyway, turning the volume down for a moment, that idea is both understandable and absolutely indefensible. Moving aside the potentially hilarious privacy issues of who you talk to being analyzed and judged by the world’s biggest Big Box store, there’s also the fact that the publishing industry is the world’s smallest associative village. Everyone knows people who know everyone else and the idea of policing that is as ludicrous
It also takes attention away from the two things that matter; the books and the word of mouth surrounding them. As my friend Matt Wallace likes to point out; writers eat last. The best way to solve that is to help them sell books. The best way to help them sell books is write a review. It’s easy::
-Read a thing, maybe on Kindle, maybe on paper.
-Form opinions about the thing
-Go to its Amazon page.
-Write those opinions down.
That’s it. You’re a reviewer, you’ve helped an author whose work has affected you and you’ve thrown another toothpick sized spear into the hide of the great beast Amazon. All without getting up, go you! Oh and if you’re worried about it taking time, don’t. Right now, I split my Amazon reviews between long form blog posts I’ve already written on a book and off the cuff pieces of about two paragraphs. I did ten of those yesterday. It took me 25 minutes. Several of them were the first review on the book. All of them were GREAT, and I’ll be running a roundup later on this week.
So, hate on Amazon all you want, because a lot of what they do is disgusting. But don’t leave authors hanging when you do. If you’ve read a book, review it on your blog, on the 1998 time warp that is GoodReads and most importantly on Amazon itself. You may help someone else find something they’ll enjoy as much you and you’ll definitely help the author.