Amazon Book Review Policies Are Bad For Self Publishing Authors

Amazon Review Policies

An Amazon book review cannot be posted for free ebooks?


You might have missed this very quiet yet extremely nasty change to Amazon book review policies.

If you are still giving away free Kindle ebooks in the hope of gaining new reviews, then you might want to reconsider.

The new Amazon review rules

If you take a little look at Amazon’s Customer Review Creation Guidelines below, you will see why you could be wasting your time giving away free Kindle ebooks.

Notice also that this page has no date or date of the change.

So it’s impossible to know when Amazon made this change.

It is typical of Amazon, which, as always, fails badly on transparency.


To write a Customer Review, you must have used your account to purchase any item or service on Amazon (free digital content doesn’t qualify toward this requirement.)

Yes, all those free ebooks you gave away intending to attract an Amazon book review were for absolutely nothing.

This new policy comes on top of another change of policy regarding Amazon book reviews.

In essence, it banned reviews from not only family and friends but also fellow authors or social media contacts.

All this makes it tough for authors.


Authors’ frustration

One comment I received tells how frustrating it is now for honest new authors.

“I self-published a book on Amazon. During the first week I released it, one day, I had six 5-star reviews.

The next day I had three. Amazon basically took the liberty to erase the reviews, which obviously affects the algorithm that makes the book more visible.”

Many articles were written about this draconian attitude. You can read this one in The International Business Times, which covers the topic in detail.

One can only conclude that Amazon has had its fill of self-publishing.

It’s now taking dramatic measures to limit the chances of success for self-publishing authors.

Either honest reviews are deleted, or honest reviewers cannot leave a review.

From my experience over the last twelve months, I can say that I have been contacted by many people on social media, who have tried to post an Amazon book review for my books, and were rejected. Why?

Because Amazon seemingly deemed that we had a ‘personal’ connection.

What? After exchanging a few messages on Twitter or Linkedin, we have a personal relationship? Really?

Also, over the past few months, my new reviews have reduced to a trickle because of the ban on free Kindle ebook recipients.

Therefore, they are not able to post Amazon book reviews.

Ever since I have been publishing ebooks, free ebooks have been my primary source of reviews, especially from book bloggers.

So, where are self-publishers at now with Amazon?

Clearly, the benefits of giving exclusivity to Amazon by joining KDP Select is now not a great deal at all.

What do you get? A better royalty rate in Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico on sales of Kindle books.

You can enroll in Kindle Unlimited and have your book royalty reduced. You can give away your book for free five days every three months.

With Amazon’s new draconian attitude towards book reviews, on top of the reduction in royalties due to Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP), that doesn’t sound very enticing to me.

If you want to publish independently, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is still a must, of course.

But without granting exclusivity might be the best option.



Personally, I can only say that Amazon has been truly remarkable over the years in developing and supporting self-publishing.

Sadly though, however, it seems that the goodwill days are over. Is Amazon now setting self-publishers adrift?.

Self-publishing was always a loss leader for Amazon.

So it probably should come as no surprise that it has used (abused?) self-publishing for its own marketing needs for long enough and now believe that they do not need to support self-published authors any longer.

Taking away the ability of free Kindle ebook readers to post an Amazon book review is clearly the latest signal from Amazon that it is dramatically reducing its support for self-publishers.


Update: Read our new article about Amazon’s $50.00 minimum spend to be able to review.


Note: Another blow to free Kindle ebook reviews. Amazon announced a new $50 criteria to be eligible to add a customer review. 

To contribute to Customer Reviews or Customer Answers, Spark, or to follow other contributors, you must have spent at least $50 on using a valid credit or debit card.

Link to the Updated Amazon Community Guidelines Page


Related Reading: The Saga Of Paid Amazon Book Reviews Continues Unabated

51 thoughts on “Amazon Book Review Policies Are Bad For Self Publishing Authors”

  1. I wish I had read this article a year ago. I began publishing with Amazon in 2013. Since I wanted a larger audience, I switched to Draft2Digital. This was a good decision. Their formatting is excellent and within a day my novels were up and selling on major sites. Amazon had changed their manuscript requirements and my old computer and browser didn’t meet the newer standards.

    I was also shocked that writing book reviews had become big business. Immediately after publishing I was approached via social media and well-known author sites, to purchase reviews. Some sites even offer a template for reviewers to use. While on an authors’ website, a blogger wrote that they needed new books to review. Innocently thinking that they were probably in an “affiliate program” or one of the promoted book clubs, I posted a thank you and that I would “check out” their readers’ blog, I’m certain you can guess what I found — a price list for 1 Amazon review or a package deal for many reviews.

    By the way, the highest price I’ve seen listed is $395 package and the lowest was $3.00. I am totally disgusted. Oh, and just how do those new releases have between 300 and several thousand stars from readers on the 1st day the book appears on Amazon. I’ll bet that costs a lot!

  2. Amazon are pretty hopeless for promoting a new book . Recently I looked at their top 100 to find George Orwell’s 1984 up there . These are not new books but often libraries and schools restocking . Meantime my books sunk to nearly minus two million on the best sellers list and and very few people have the time to drill that far down. However, on the occasions that one of the book sells the title the book is catapulted from say 1,900,000 down the list to around about 60,000 a jump of 1,840,000 on the sale of a single book . Which goes to show that 1,840,000 have not even sold a single copy, and they are no likely too either ! Of course Amazon and Goodreads are keen to get people to offer free books they are making money out of it and the author is in the position of buying his/her own book to give away. . Indeed any organisation which advises the author to give away their books is probably on some sort of scam and able to make money if it sells or does not sell .

  3. “If you want to publish independently, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is still a must, of course.”

    Uh, no it’s not. Especially now, there are plenty of other options. I use IngramSpark for print and Draft2Digital for e-book. My book is still sold on Amazon, but it’s also on a lot of other websites. Thus far, I want to say 20-40% of my digital sales have been NOT Amazon. Meanwhile, I keep hearing about severe problems with Amazon’s customer service for authors. IngramSpark is no saint, but they are better, while Draft2Digital IS a saint (and they’re working on doing paperbacks too). Barnes and Noble has a publishing arm, and I’ve heard some good things out of Lulu recently (though I haven’t heard much).

    KDP is not the only viable option. Still gotta do the leg work no matter what you do. Might as well go through a company that treats you at least a little better. Though I’m glad I didn’t bother with the Kindle Select. Would have been the wrong choice.

    1. I suppose it depends on how you look at it, Forest. If you use Draft2Digital for example, it publishes your ebook via KDP. The same goes for others like Blurb and Lulu. So even though you don’t publish directly with KDP, it is as I said, a must if you want your ebook to be available on Amazon.

  4. This isn’t new. Anyone who wants to leave a review on Amazon must have an Amazon account and have met their minimum spend requirements. Authors know that.

    1. My wife has an Amazon account and spends more than the referenced $50. Am I correct that my wife cannot post a review of my pending book on Amazon?

      1. Well, she can certainly post reviews because she has spent more than $50.00 on Amazon in the last 12 months. But as for posting a review for your book, because she is your spouse, it might not be accepted by Amazon. Reviews from the same household and IP address are usually not permitted.

  5. It is interesting that reviews are deleted for following you on social media, I have seen reviews that appear to be written by the author themselves about their own books.

  6. Wow! Am I glad I discovered these new rules! I had no idea this was happening on Amazon. I started to write Historical Novels last year, and so far I have written 16 books with a ‘three book’ series in progress. At one time, I had plenty of great reviews, but they were all deleted and I was horrified! Deleted, I assume, because I used an Editor from Fiverr back then. Even though a few, “not so good reviews remain to this day.” One lady wrote about, one of my novels… “If this story is clean, I would hate to read dirty?” What? There is nothing in that book considered dirty. It is as clean as any Romance Book can get! (She must have been high on drugs or drunk.) lol. Because she commented on the wrong author and book. Another lady wrote about the same book… “Good Afternoon Read, bla-bla-bla- except there is no Miss. Charlotte and no Clint in my story, lol. Miss Charlotte, and Clint live in another of my novels. Too bad I can’t remove those reviews.

    My Books are downloaded frequently for Free on Kindle. Last month one of my books was downloaded 224 times, However, I have yet to see a feedback from any reader that downloads for Free through Kindle unlimited. Despite that, I do sell a few books on Amazon, but for some reason it is hard to get a review, or five stars. I myself am guilty of doing that with a product. I belong to my Community Center where I live, and women will come up to me and say, TB, I loved your book, I left you a review… or I tried to leave you a review. And when I take a look, it’s not there. Now I know why. I did not know about the 50 dollar rule. Thanks for the info.

  7. ‘Amazon wants your voice to be heard!’ Liar, liar, pants on fire Amazon. Those of us who have been with Amazon for years – decades, know that anything they say is a pack of lies…

  8. Per the link you provided… Amazon’s policy states this: Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.

  9. Avatar for Steven J. Clark
    Steven J. Clark

    The only thing worse is trying to go the traditional agent query way. It’s a nearly impossible maze. The time agents take to respond, if they respond at all, is unconscionable. They let thousands of very good, highly publishable works slip through their fingers or leave authors dangling until they rot and drop off the vine. So what’s the alternative? Amazon may not be perfect, but at least it’s there. I do believe this review policy needs to be revisited and seen through the eye of the author. Many of my book sales have been to friends and family, but that does not mean they post dishonest reviews. I have many of them banging on my door asking “when’s the next of coming out?” They are honest fans whose reviews should count just as much as a stranger’s.

    1. I’m pretty sure Traditional publishers are lobbying Amazon to put these rules in place. As a businessman, if you saw your profits getting chipped away, you’re going to fight back, and seeing how you have more sway because you are a bigger fish, you’re probably going to win out. It’s all about the money. Self pubbing will always be around, but it’s popularity will probably sag and no longer be the growing cottage industry with individual self pubbed or Publish on Demand outfits unless something turns that metric around. Just saying.

      1. I disagree. More and more titles are doing better going self than traditional. Goodreads is providing a place to find reviews away from Amazon. If anyone is in danger it’s the big publishers. They’re fighting so hard to stop the tide they themselves are causing to grow stronger.

  10. This blog is very helpful and I agree totally that you cannot leave a review for a book if you have not already purchased 50 dollars of products from Amazon.
    I have the email from Amazon confirming this.

    Maybe back in the day, they were good but now, No!
    As a new writer I am very disappointed at all levels.

  11. I have people who enjoyed my book but can´t review it because they have never purchased 50 dollars worth of products from Amazon


    Feb 2019
    My story is too long to tell but Amazon is definitely throwing my reviews into the toilet without any logical rules or regulations. I published 6 weeks anti. I have 5000 friends on Facebook and few relatives. Of the 18 reviews sent in, 6 are posted. Each had its own story. Bought paperback or ebook, I bought a bunch of 99 cent ebooks to give out. My cousin bought 50, my son bought ten paperbacks for friends, the rest were not related in any way, unless add political contacts on one of my Facebook pages. I have paid advertising on Amazon. They are arbitrarily refusing reviews at their whim. Every single reviewer read legit. In fact my book will be on show at Book Expo and Book Con in NYC in May/June. So it’s a book with merit, submitted to several literary book contests. I am a marketing expert by trade. This article is spot on, except for a the worst of the worst, which is THEY REFUSE TO RESPOND TO AUTHORS OVER REJECTED REVIEWERS AT ALL OTHER THAN COPY AND PASTE FROM THEIR SITE, which means very many questions unanswered. THEY REFUSE TO ANSWER THOSE SPECIFIC QUESTIONS. I have contacted them 10 times by phone and more by email, ZERO response or a cut and paste. THIS MAY BE NEW POLICY SINCE 2019 which means my luck stinks to high heaven, but literally the are no solid rules. Is likely bots. And it surely does feel like they do not give a flipping concern about authors over customers, which is the exact opposite from my opinion a month ago before killing myself to self publish my masterpiece. And the folks at KDP publishing, one you got past India call centers, were totally fantastic find helpful when I was struggling to switch from their old system right in the middle of publishing using their quite weak templates. Still, Samantha and others were patient and cared and made you feel that they wanted your experience to be a good one. After publishing, the review removals and refusals have left me so cold, I just wrote to them a minute ago and told them I was starting a blog to report all this if they did not respond with human logic and answer my very specific questions. Even my son was livid as hell and wrote them a scathing email. It eased next answered. I barely know him but after he raff my book he went 90 degrees flip out and left that review they refused. He’s still so livid he could eat nails. They have purchased 100 books plus thousands in products just this year, but Amazon doesn’t seem to care about customer satisfaction at all now. Well, we’re all know why. MONEY DOES MANY THINGS TO THE ULTRA RICH BRAIN.. Meanwhile, if this policy is not lifted by all the complaints, mine alone, forget publishing on Amazon. You give them advertising dollars and they take that money and then cancel your legitimate reviews when every product is sold or passed over from reviews. So they don’t even care if THEY MAKE MONEY FROM YOUR BOOK SALES. THEY MAKE IT FROM YOUR ADVERTISING AND BASICALLY F YOU OVER.

    I amonly online writing this because I planned to start a blog and dump all my dozens of emails and phone notations so other authors don’t get the idea that Amazon publishing is the way to go. They care less. Maybe they did care before. Like I said, I am the queen of bad luck and this is truly beyond bad luck that I waited, stalling, made so anti self publishing by the publishing industry. Then decide to give Amazon s try since they became one of the top three publishers. Do many authors with great ratings. Lots of ratings. Yeah. I was literally in love with Amazon before this experience. DO NOT REMOVE THIS BLOG. PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW WHAT AMAZON IS CURRENTLY DOING TO ITS NEW AND PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED AUTHORS AS WELL

  13. I have a #1 fan, a reader who loves my books and who had reviewed every one of my 24 books on Amazon. Coincidentally this lady is 8nvolved in dog rescue, as I am and we began to interact on dog rescue sites about…dogs. However, when she tried to leave a review of my latest novel, it was rejected, with Amazon accusing her of being related to the author, (we are not related and have never met). They also deleted all her reviews of my books and all the reviews she’s written over the years of other books AND other products. This lady, a Prime and KU subscriber, argued long and hard with Amazon who refused to give her a satisfactory explanation. She contacted me and told me that she’d cancelled both her Prime and KU subscriptions AND her Amazon account which she surprised me by telling me she and her husband spent an average amount of £3,000 a year on. I wonder how many more disgruntled customers will do something similar in the context of being unfairly treated by Amazon. These readers are after all, CUSTOMERS, and should be treated with faitmrness and respect by Amazon. This is not good publicity or public relations for Amazon who are in danger of destroying their own reputation and of losing a heck of a lot of genuine customers who can just as easily buy elsewhere.

    1. Avatar for Denise Grover Swank
      Denise Grover Swank

      Reviewers CAN contact Amazon and challenge their claim. I have had members of my review team have their reviews denied, but nearly all of them got back their Amazon reviewer status for my books.

  14. I got 6 reviews this week on my PERMAFREE book. This article is incorrect. You cannot review if all you have done is “purchase” free stuff on Amazon. You have to actually buy at least $50 worth of goods to qualify. Then you can review anything … even stuff you haven’t purchased.

  15. I was wondering to enter in this business at the beginning of last June, but i didn’t after a VA from upwork told me this. Now, after three months, it’s still good try to enter in this business from scratch? Or amazon will improve drammatically this removing review action? Thanks.

  16. I self-published a book on Amazon. During the first week I released it, one day I had six 5-star reviews. The next day I had three. Amazon basically took the liberty to erase the reviews, which obviously affects the algorithm that makes the book more visible.

  17. This is kinda bull, really.
    If you are so anti-Amazon why do you have sixteen (16) books on there?
    Why not just remove them all and use Smashwords instead?
    I won’t be following your advice, having just had my best month ever – after making all four books in one series free for a day, and reducing the first in another series to 99c for a week.
    In fact, I will be reducing books again next month AND paying promotion sites to tell people about it, because as far as getting the word out about my books, NOTHING has come close to the power of Amazon. (my ONLY gripe, I wish they would pay their fair share of tax)

  18. Thank you for this article and the threads.
    Personal experience: After a whole year of being a published author, it dawned on me that I had not followed up on reviews. So I sent out a bulk mail to friends and customers that had given verbal feedback through the year. I was on a rampage for reviews! It’s part of the trade – if we’re honest. By the end of the day, four people had posted a review on Amazon. Some had purchased from bookstores. So of course if they didn’t have an Amazon account they couldn’t comment – fair enough – that’s policy.
    However, one of the posts was by my sister-in-law. If I hadn’t check in, on the day, I would never have known she’d written a review. Checked to see if more reviews had come in, the next day. Lo and behold! Sis-in-law’s review was no longer there! Reading this string has helped be understand Amazon and it’s scrutiny approach.
    Too many ‘big brothers’ I’d say!

    1. Avatar for Denise Grover Swank
      Denise Grover Swank

      Your family and close friends are NOT allowed to review, per TOS. Neither are authors who have a relationship with the author;

      2. Are authors allowed to review other authors’ books?
      Yes. Authors are welcome to submit Customer Reviews, unless the reviewing author has a personal relationship with the author of the book being reviewed, or was involved in the book’s creation process (i.e. as a co-author, editor, illustrator, etc.). If so, that author isn’t eligible to write a Customer Review for that book. Please review our Customer Review Guidelines for more information.

      3. Can I ask my family to write a Customer Review for my book?
      We don’t allow individuals who share a household with the author or close friends to write Customer Reviews for that author’s book. Customer Reviews provide unbiased product feedback from fellow shoppers and aren’t to be used as a promotional tool. Please refer to our Help Page for more details. Your family and friends are welcome to share their enthusiasm for your book through our Customer Discussions feature.

  19. Avatar for Julie Christine Round
    Julie Christine Round

    So if someone has bought anything from amazon they can review a book they purchased elsewhere as long as amazon sell it?
    I had the impression that you could not review a book on amazon UNLESS you had bought it from them.
    What about second hand books that are advertised on amazon?

    1. You can review anything listed on Amazon as long as you have spent $50 in the last rolling 12-month period in their store. And that INCLUDES free ebooks. You don’t have to have purchased the product on Amazon, but if you have, your review will show up as a Verified Purchase.

  20. This post is misleading and not helpful.

    I’ve been an Amazon reviewer for years. As long as, at some time, you’ve purchased something (anything) from Amazon, you are able to leave a review for anything else, regardless of where you bought it, or if it was free.

    Regarding the reviews left by family / friends etc; you need to ensure that your Amazon account is not connected to your social media accounts.

    I regularly leave reviews for authors who I am connected to via Facebbok and/or Twitter, with no problems

  21. Thank you very much for writing this post – and for not deleting it light of comments you’ve received.

    Whatever the actual deal is with Amazon and reviews on free books, which could change as soon as I send this to you, I appreciate your bringing our attention to the issue.

    And I hope any reviews I write on your books don’t get deleted by Amazon because of our ‘connection’ now that I’ve written this!

  22. No, folks, you are wrong!

    I have had a registered account with Amazon for years.
    I reviewed a couple of Dereks’ books on Goodreads, and on Amazon as well.
    Later we became friends on Twitter and even later on FB.
    Now my reviews on Amazon have all disapeared!


    Derek is absolutely right!

    1. Yes Natalie,, I had obviously noticed that your kind reviews had been deleted. And for anyone reading these comments, I can assure you that Natalie and I have never met, apart from the occasional Facebook exchange on my Facebook page. Now whether Natalie obtained my ebooks for free or paid is irrelevant. I do not know. What is important though, is that her reviews have been deleted by Amazon. All I can ask is, why?

  23. I am grateful I looked at the comments following this article. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have walked away with the complete story. I agree that there is room for misunderstanding the written policy on reviews; however, the thoughtful comments others have added seem to convincingly refute the premise of this alarming article.

    Have you considered taking this article down or updating it with a statement from Amazon that will put an end to the questions?

    1. Thank you for your comment, John. Yes, I have considered editing this article, but as you say, the wording of Amazon’s definition of who can write a review is very badly written, and totally open to interpretation. I can only say that I attempted to submit a review for a free ebook I read, and my review was rejected. But should Amazon change or clarify the wording of this clause, I will certainly add an amendment to this post.

      However, the main thrust of the article remains, in that self publishing authors are severely disadvantaged by Amazon’s book review rules. By Amazon basically banning reviews from other KDP authors, who have no personal connection whatsoever with an author, this limits the opportunities for self published authors to gain legitimate reviews from verified book buyers.

      Amazon are also taking a broad brush approach to how they define ‘family members or close friends of the person’, by using social media contact as a reason to reject book reviews. I know this from my own experience, as I have had a number of reviews for my own books rejected because the reviews were submitted by readers who are in contact with me via social media, but with whom I have no personal relationship.

      When Amazon initiated these new rules, it was in reaction to paid reviews and the whole John Locke saga. But a lot of self publishing authors lost honest and legitimate book reviews in the cull through no fault of their own.

      So as I said, the main point of my article is to raise the issue that Amazon are treating self published authors unfairly when it comes to book reviews, so for this reason I believe the article is valid.

  24. I’m pretty sure that means that unless you’ve made any purchase on Amazon, the “post a review” function isn’t enabled in your account. You have to be an Amazon customer to be able to review any product.

    I contacted Amazon on a review question a couple of weeks ago about the chatter that Amazon discounts all reviews that aren’t made on verified purchases, and they said that wasn’t true. In fact, they don’t care where/how you got the product you’re reviewing — they just want it to be honest. That reinforces my view that you’ve misinterpreted this — and it’s in keeping with this week’s brouhaha about fake Fiverr reviews.

    Sandra Beckwith

    1. Misinterpretation is the operative word, Sandra. Most of the comments on this post refer to a personal interpretation of:

      “To write a Customer Review, you must have used your account to purchase any item or service on Amazon (free digital content doesn’t qualify toward this requirement.)”

      This is not written in plain English at all, so is of course open to interpretation. That’s the problem.

      1. I agree it that the way it’s written leads to a couple of interpretations!

        Sandra Beckwith

  25. The terms you quote as being vague, are actually very clear. If all you’ve ever “purchased” on Amazon is free ebooks, THEN you don’t get to leave reviews. But most people with Kindles do the bulk of their shopping on Amazon, so it’s not an issue.

    This has been Amazon’s general review policy for over a decade, the free ebooks clause was probably added when they introduced KDP.

    Graeme and Aeon are 100% correct in their explanations. Like I said, the terms aren’t vague at all.

  26. I second Derek on this one. As far as I know that’s always been the requirement to leave a review on anything on Amazon, or at least the wording doesn’t appear to have changed since I’ve first seen it. I think it’s more to do with verifying that you are a person with a credit card that’s held at a billing address more than an attempt to circumvent reviews. It means Amazon has a reasonable certainty that it’s a genuine account instead of a sock puppet.

  27. Sorry, Derek. Graeme is right.

    What amazon is trying to do is make sure that all accounts are legitimate, and every customer only has one account. They do this by making sure that there is a name, address, and prior purchase on the account. That way one person doesn’t start ten different accounts, get ten free e-books, and leave ten different five-star reviews.

    However, once you have purchased a paid book (or any paid product), you can review as many free e-books or products as you like.

    This is not open to interpretation. That is what the policy is, and that is what amazon enforces.

    You are encouraging authors not to post free kindle content and that is a mistake. You should take this article down.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Aeon. I read with interest your understanding of these terms.

      “However, once you have purchased a paid book (or any paid product), you can review as many free e-books or products as you like.”

      This is the problem though, as it is your understanding. This is not to say that it is right or wrong. The wording Amazon use is extremely vague, and open to interpretation, and also subject to change without notice.

      I much prefer Amazon Associates, who unlike KDP, email notifications of changes in terms and conditions.

      However, I think it is healthy to debate this vexing issue of Amazon reviews, and inform self publisher’s, who may be unaware of these review rules, to this issue.

    2. When the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest started in 2017 (roughly–old timers will remember this one) I didn’t have an account to be in the contest. Sooo, I bought an article for 99 cents and I was in. I have always felt that this contest was developed so amazon could test their newfangled Kindle device. Exciting times to see you 3,000 words in ebook form. I’ve never looked back as an indie author. I think it’s the same for this review issue.

  28. With respect, you misunderstood their text. They are simply saying that to leave a review of ANY product you must have bought ANY product on that account. That’s why it says “any item or service”. It doesn’t mean purchasing the actual item you want to review.

    Did you test it out before giving out your advice? I’ve seen reviews on free books as recent as today to prove the point.

    1. True, it is written very vaguely, Graeme, so you’re entitled to your understanding of it. But “free digital content doesn’t qualify toward this requirement” says to me that free ebooks do not qualify to add reviews. Also, “you must have used your account to purchase any item” says that you must have ‘bought’ the goods, not obtained it for free.

      It would have been much more transparent if Amazon had been clearer, and simply stated that beneficiaries of free Kindle ebooks do, or do not have the right to post reviews.

      1. Avatar for Christopher Martin
        Christopher Martin

        It seems vague because it’s extremely broad.

        The purpose of that statement is to severely limit “review mills”. There are “services” out there that will, typically for a fee, dump a few hundred positive reviews on a product to raise it’s ranking using multiple accounts.

        That clause makes those accounts cost money, which means that each account created for the purpose of generating reviews has to have purchased something. If those accounts get flagged and taken down for junk reviews (which happens eventually as people or algorithms report them), that creates a financial cost to restoring the account.

        Typically those accounts would be used once and discarded, because they’re free and they’re less likely to get flagged on a single review. However, now those accounts cost as little as a dollar a piece, requiring separate payment information for each one which makes it dramatically more difficult to generate even as little as 100 false reviews without getting flagged, which in itself would require about $100 total from around 100 different payment sources.

        More relevant is the “Promotional Reviews” section under “Promotional Content”. It’s important to note that family and close friends are prohibited from reviewing your work. This is simply because of the inherent bias of those relationships.

        1. Yes, the terms are indeed very broad, Christopher, and therefore difficult to understand with precision.

          I know there was an ‘Amazon book review industry’ developing on Fiverr a couple of years ago, which Amazon seemed to have contained. However, I notice now that Fiverr ebook reviewers are back in business again. A quick search of Twitter will find a lot of new paid ebook reviewers as well. So clearly, Amazon are not doing well on this front.

          In the end, it is how Amazon apply their review terms, which is not always easy to understand.

      2. Avatar for Christopher Martin
        Christopher Martin

        Also, just noticed that they clarified that point specifically under “Paid Reviews” in the second paragraph.

        “The sole exception to this rule is when a free or discounted copy of a physical product is provided to a customer up front. In this case, if you offer a free or discounted product in exchange for a review, you must clearly state that you welcome both positive and negative feedback. If you receive a free or discounted product in exchange for your review, you must clearly and conspicuously disclose that fact.”

        They do need to explicitly state that they received their copy for free in exchange for a review, otherwise free copies are okay. In fact Amazon even does this itself for it’s Vine members (a program where free products are given for review, available only to the highest rated reviewers).

    2. Absolutely correct! Over the past few weeks I have had numerous reviews written on several of my free ebooks.

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