Policy Change On Amazon Book Reviews With $50 Minimum
Amazon book review guidelines over the years have attracted more scams than you can imagine. Most revolve around click farms and amassing lots of Amazon accounts.
By creating hundreds, if not thousands, of Amazon accounts, scammers could boost free Kindle ebook downloads, add customer reviews, or manipulate book sales ranking.
There have been many articles about problems associated with Amazon customer reviews concerning ebook reviews in particular.
There has also been manipulation of Kindle ebooks, as Let’s Get Digital explains how Scammers Broke the Kindle Store. On top of these scammed and fake reviews, Amazon takes a dim view of paid book reviews, which are still a problem.
Bring out the Amazon heavy hammer
I have to say that Amazon has tried to resolve problems with book reviews in several ways over the years.
It seems more so since the advent of Kindle ebooks and Kindle Unlimited.
Some measures seemed draconian at the time, especially a few years ago when Amazon started deleting masses of existing book reviews.
Amazon never fully explained. However, the deleted reviews were often classed as being posted by someone with a close connection to the author.
Amazon was less than clear about what a close connection or relationship meant.
But many authors believed that it was not only reviews posted by family and friends, or in some cases, business associates. It was also book reviews posted by social media connections.
In any event, correctly assumed or not, Amazon deleted a lot of reviews at the time.
While successfully eradicating many fake reviews, Amazon removed many honest reviews as well.
It is unfortunate how Amazon acted on scams and fake reviews in the past. It affected many innocent authors in the fix, and they were at a loss to understand what they might have done wrong.
But at last, Amazon takes a sensible solution to fake book reviews
Unless you are an avid reader of Amazon’s book review guidelines, terms and conditions, and community guidelines, it is impossible to know what changes Amazon makes.
Amazon rarely dates the changes it makes, so it is difficult to know when it makes a change.
However, one change is really worth knowing about.
As it was an update, I can’t precisely say when it changed. But it occurred at some time during 2020.
The terms have also been updated a few times since then.
The clause currently reads:
To do any of the following, you need to have spent at least $50 on Amazon.com, using a valid credit or debit card, in the past 12 months:
Create reviews (including star ratings)
Answer customer questions
Submit helpful votes
Create idea lists
Follow other contributors
Promotional discounts don’t count towards the $50 minimum spending requirement.
You can view the full page here.
Those reviewers who do not meet the $50 threshold will receive a message similar to this when trying to post a review.
We apologize but this account has not met the minimum eligibility requirements to write a review. If you would like to learn more about our eligibility requirements, please see our community guidelines.
It is a very positive change regarding book reviews because it will significantly reduce the ability of click farms.
By adding a $50 minimum spend to Amazon book review guidelines, the 1,000s of Amazon accounts used to manipulate reviews and free ebook downloads cannot now add customer reviews.
The $50 condition should mean that any Amazon book reviews posted from now on will be from real Amazon customers.
It is a very positive move.
However, authors should still be aware that asking for reviews can lead to problems.
Here is what Amazon stipulates:
You may provide free or discounted copies of your books to readers. However, you may not demand a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.
Offering anything other than a free or discounted copy of the book—including gift cards—will invalidate a review, and we’ll have to remove it.
Read the full text here.
In other words, you can and should continue to use free Kindle ebook promotions if you are eligible under KDP Select.
However, be careful about how you promote your free ebook offer on social media to avoid seeming like you are offering inducements to review your book.
All authors want book reviews. It is a fact.
However, the most worthwhile reviews are gained organically. It means it is up to readers to decide when and if they will post a book review.
Many readers do not choose to do this. So it is tough to attract a good number of reviews for a new book.
With the change to add a $50 minimum spend, it is a little more difficult.
But Amazon is serious about trying to maintain a degree of integrity in Amazon book reviews.
Its aim is clear. Amazon wants customer reviews from customers and not from click farms, inducement, or illegitimate means.
Trying to garner the review system now can only lead to problems.
The best way for authors to get book reviews is the old-fashioned way.
Sell more copies of your books, and the book reviews will come.
Update: Amazon UK has applied the same measure for customer reviews, however, at a higher entry of £40.00, which is about US$56.00.
You can find the details here on the Amazon UK Community Guidelines page.
While unconfirmed, I have had messages from a few UK authors saying that some or all of their earlier book reviews have been deleted. This is not good news.
Related Reading: Bad Amazon Book Reviews – You Will Always Get A Few
64 thoughts on “Policy Change On Amazon Book Reviews With $50 Minimum”
While it is laudable, it is not without issues. I’ve missed out on honest reviews because not everyone shops on Amazon! A reader told me her bookclub loved it, and only bought the Kindle version because (at the time), a paperback was not available and hard copies were their preferred format. However, not one of them could review it, as none of them met the $50 minimum. That’s 10 reviews I didn’t get.
Also, I know of authors who give sly free copies to readers who purchase from Amazon. These people then give 5 star reviews no matter what. It is a rule easily circumvented.
I ask why too. I am a new author and no reviews. My target audience in part is the Philippines. $50 is 2500 pesos half a months salary for many. Most don’t have a bank account let alone a credit card.
Yes, honest reviews but it looks like more Amazon is trying to make a buck.
What a scam is hidden in the honest book review rules
And the kicker is that one must pay for that fifty using a credit or debit card. I have those cards but prefer to pay for Amazon purchases directly from my checking account. Why should it matter how I pay for my minimum $50? I think perhaps they are getting pressure from Visa/MC to keep consumers on the hook for interest and bank fees.
Of course, trillionaire (my spell check doesn’t even recognize this word) has to tie so-called “integrity” to more money for him. Bezos is worried about integrity? Oh c’mon. All those crap products from China? Yeah, he’s really worried about “integrity”. The point is, people who have the audacity to side step the gatekeepers and publish on their own don’t have the same rights as those that go through societal gatekeepers and this is in a supposed democracy. There are horrible books from the trad pub world too. Also, the trad pub world does THE SAME THING in terms of soliciting book reviews/endorsement that includes providing payola. What do you think a book publicist does? The idea that all the trad pub reviews are “organic” is utter b.s. They ARE NOT. It is a form of discrimination is what it is, against the right to publish a book on your own. It is anti-democratic and Amazon’s new policy is nothing less than extortion. Remember, the policy makes Amazon even more money. Integrity my as. s.
It’s got nothing to do with tracking down on fake reviews and everything to do with cashing in on lost revenue. The $50 minimum spend is an ANNUAL requirement, not a once off. I purchased an ebook a couple of years ago and couldn’t get around to leaving a review until now but I’ve found myself unable to as I haven’t made the requisite $50 purchase in the last 12 months. Rich, Amazon, rich. This reduces every review to just views of the regular customers of Amazon who also bought and read the book, rather than the broader, and more accurate, net of people who actually purchased and read the books. Not only that, Amazon requires at least 50 reviews before self-published books goes into oblivion in their algorithms. That pretty much means they want to farm $2500 from each self publisher first before they’ll allow us a fighting chance.
Amazon is becoming the new traditional with this lowbrow tactic. Sure, we have an alternative to the gatekeepers, but one that doesn’t allow us a fair, fighting chance anyway. Is there a difference?
I’m wondering how holding an Amazon subscription service affects this $50 threshold? If I have a Prime account, Audible or Audible Escape, Music, KU, etc. then haven’t I meet the criteria of spending $50? I wonder if this is a loophole that people will use. As a librarian I try to post reviews on every book I read, whether purchased or not, since an author’s career can depend on it. I’d hate to see it restricted to a “confirmed purchase” only option.
Excellent point. (I note that the Comments to the article are not dated). But Amazon’s $50 rule – which I have only recently encountered in March 2021, is a bad move all around for those individuals, like myself who made all manner of purchases from Amazon, but are now – discriminated? against – cut off – we don’t care about your critique about anything – go away – either go away or spend that $50 right now – Amazon can go to hell.
Whatever Amazon is selling, I can do without, or, I will find it elsewhere, paying more if necessary. I don’t use social media. And, especially with economic pandemic issues, it was, for me, an opportunity to make inquiries, and get responses, about products, including books… and be “part of” it. I even understood from the beginning that the buyer/product Feedback was for exactly that.. yet Amazon is happier with idiots who continue to put “ripped, smelly book,” under Reviews – as long as Amazon gets their money? The hell with Amazon.
Authors need their own websites – libraries need to work far harder to get the word out – especially for non-best-sellers – best sellers simply flood the libraries here, and are almost useless. Amazon cannot be seen as the sole “opportunity.” for authors.
I understand that they are trying to prevent fake reviews, but having to spend $50 bucks just to post a review for a book you purchased for .99 cents is ridiculous. If a reader bought a book, and it’s verified, they should be able to post a review. If they can find out how people were scamming, then they can verify that a book was a verified purchase. All ‘verified purchases’ should be able to post a review. Amazon is really getting greedy and it seems as if ‘they’ are the only one making any money out of it. They are pretty much, forcing people, to spend money, (and not a cheap amount), just to post a review. RIDICULOUS! BEYOND RIDICULOUS! I purchased a book, want to leave a review, and can’t do the author justice by giving her an honest review to reveal my satisfaction with it. It was a good book and others should read it. This is hurting authors in a major way.
But, my books are diced by trolls and enemies who never bought the book at all. Amazon allow them to call the author names and so on.
I believe they’re using fake and verified and unverified psychology to get people to spend and get richer. By making a person feels guilty they will be able to squeeze every penny out of them if the buyers are stupid enough. The art of making billions is by keeing them at the bottom scrambling over one-another trying to climb to the top. Those billionaires who owns amazon must be grinning their teeth at all those poor authors and suckers.
I consider this incredibly unfair. On the bright side, as I understand the policy, this is going to affect ALL writers who use Amazon. When people like Margaret Atwood and Stephen King can’t get reviews because readers haven’t spent the requisite $50, the publishing industry is going to react – and not in Amazon’s favor. What happens if you paid for a Kirkus Indie review? Is Amazon going to tell Kirkus to go to hell? Tell me that’s not going to get interesting. I predict this nonsense will be temporary, though we’re all losing money the while. In the meantime, however, we’re screwed, big time.
Honestly, if Amazon really wants to win in this game, they need to find ways to partner with authors rather than viewing them as the enemy. They are, after all, making a tidy bundle off of us. A dozen free promos that generate reviews can be enough to raise awareness that generate future sales. It’s a little more problematic with the click farms and paid reviews, but in a highly competitive market, some of this is the cost of doing business, not a freaking moral dilemma.
Hi, Can the $50.00 minimum requirement be spent on anything from Amazon if I want to write a book review? Or does the $50 minimum have to be spent on buying books for a book review? Thank you.
Thanks for the article. Related question, please: Does a gifted ebook show up in reviews as a gift purchase or a verified purchase, or both?
I’m about to launch my ebook for 99c as an intro price. I’d like to send gift emails to people (no prizes, gift cards or pressure to review.).
1. If they do end up posting, will it show up as a gift or verified purchase?
We have a full article about gifting Kindle ebooks: https://justpublishingadvice.com/do-kindle-ebook-gifts-count-as-real-sales-on-kdp/
Gifts can count as sales, but you need to know how to do it correctly.
MUST you use, “gifted.” Seriously. How hard is it to writing, “giving,” “received a gift,” “gave the gift.” How blasted hard. And you’re worried about authors selling?
This has been Amazon policy since at least 2016 and was in place when I opened my account then. Great that you’re informing people about it, but in online terms, it’s ancient news. So anyone who has been able to post reviews during the past two or two-and-a-half years is highly likely to meet the criterion anyway and has no reason to be devastated by this.
My question about this is, having a Kindle Unlimited account counts as spending on Amazon products? Technically is a service but you read books through it so I’m scratching my head about it.
It’s just kicked in for me in the UK. So not ancient news here. And no, I do not currently meet the criterion.
I became aware of this ridiculous system when one of my readers purchased two of my books on Amazon, but the total of both books did not equal $50, so she could not leave reviews. REALLY?
This review system lacks all integrity since authors can buy reviews. It’s disappointing at best.
I’ve bought more than 500 e-books on amazon for the past 2years , but i can’t summit a review, tell me how that’s fair
You’ve bought 500 ebooks in 2 years??? That’s a lot! It might be the reason why Amazon is a little suspicious about your reviews.
All of my previous reviews have been deleted and now can no longer add reviews because they are deemed to be ‘biased’ even though I have no contact or relationship with any of the authors I review, nor have I received any free copies or books. I have definitely spent over £40 and Amazon have been less than helpful.
Hi MH, I had the same problem, twice, and went to the Amazon online customer service live chat option. My reviews were restored after 1 day and 5 days respectively and I received an apology from Amazon. It’s worth trying.
I am pretty upset about this new policy that Amazon has created. Both me and other members of my group have made payments of $50 to Amazon, and still they expect us to keep making purchases and or keep our credit card on file to leave a legit review.
I have been running a new book club, and we are unable to support the author by leaving a review, and or support the reader by leaving a review. How is this helping anyone?
With all due respect Derek, by the way I’m a fan of the blog, I disagree with Amazon’s new policy and here’s why: 1. If you pay to purchase a book on Amazon, you should have the right to leave a review upon examination of that book, without a financial qualifier of spending $50 dollars on Amazon. I mean, you’ve already paid to buy the book. What’s next, show proof you’ve spent $50 dollars at WholeFoods as well? Sounds ridiculous, right?
I see this as Amazon using the issue to generate more revenue. Nothing more, nothing less. I wouldn’t even have known about this issue if I hadn’t just released my new book, “Selling Your Home During Divorce: How Everyone Can Win” which I announced to my professional contacts yesterday only to wake up to text messages and emails alerting me to the issue it that they couldn’t leave a review.
How is this fair to me as an author? Just another case of ‘ he who has the gold, makes the rules’ in my humble opinion. In closing, you wrote, “Its aim is clear. Amazon wants customer reviews that are posted by customers.” Seems to me, in 2018 with all the technology, there are many ways Amazon can accomplish this goal that don’t include a $50 dollar money grab and if you paid to buy that book, you are, in fact, a customer and should be entitled to leave a review. There’s a better way!
I also have a beef about not posting reviews. I have one book under contract and another I sell as an Indie. With all my guest speaking appearances to retired teacher groups for my Indie humor book about real classroom hilarities, I buy at my cost from Create Space and sell them after my speaking engagement. I speak all over Georgia but if I speak anywhere close to my home, it appears fishy when after book purchase from me and they’ve written a review, Amazon doesn’t like it. With no record of purchase, Amazon has told me they think it’s not real. Now with hundreds of books purchased at cost by me on record for these events, might not a hundred write a review? Especially if I mention in my talk that I’d appreciate it. When my reviews hit to a certain number over the years, (99), they quit adding reviews and even started subtracting some so that I could not make the magic 100 because they couldn’t prove purchase.
Lou, I couldn’t have said it better myself! As a new author, I have readers and launch team members who don’t typically shop online but joined Amazon specifically to purchase my book, and now they are unable to leave a review? When I create a launch team for my next book, what am I supposed to say? “After you purchase my book + another $47 worth of product from Amazon, please leave an honest review!” That’s just silly. Verified Purchase should be enough.
As for scammers, if I read a review (positive or negative) and it sounds generic, I take it with a grain of salt, as I’m sure most purchasers do. That particular reviewer might be a robot, but we’re not.
Also, I hadn’t thought of it until reading your comment, but I completely agree with you—this is Amazon’s way of pushing their customers to spend more money on their site, whether they can afford it or not!
Had the same problem with Amazon UK but a simple email to customer services rectified the issue with all my previous reviews fully restored
I have emailed them and am waiting to hear back from them. It has happened to a lot of people over the weekend as am seeing lots of posts about it. I think Amazon need to rethink this
All my book reviews I have left over the last few years have been removed as of this weekend. I am unable to leave any reviews. I buy a lot of books through the Kindle app, and also have several subscriptions with Amazon. I got a message saying I couldn’t leave a review as my previous review wasn’t accepted and they mention about being biased. Which I am not. Of I like a book I leave a review saying so and if I don’t I say so. I also tested and reviewed products for companies too, I am now stopped from doing that. I feel this will affect authors, andcreaders. I am cancelling all my accounts and subscriptions with Amazon and reading through another app. Over the years I must spend way more than this £40 but cannot leave reviews. I am not the only one.
Not really true for 2018, I spent 159 dollars on toys and home goods and some were ok and some were horrible, after 30 days i got an email to review somethings and I clicked on the stars and took me to the amazon website and I got a message that says something like this:
To submit reviews, customers must make a minimum amount of valid creditcart or debit card purchases. Ah, 159 dollars on my visa was not enough?
This is definitely a challenge. I have had readers purchase my books on Amazon, but the total of both books does not equal $50. Maybe they don’t want to spend $50 on Amazon.
They are “verified buyers” but have not purchased $50 worth of merchandise. So, this is not the answer either.
What about when someone who has been harassing you leaves a negative review after telling you they would do so? They have not read the book and if compared to the other reviews, shows that they do not know what the storyline even is. Someone on social media did this to me and I am in the fourth round of requesting it be removed, but since it does not include foul language, they don’t care. It is not a fair review as they didn’t read the book, they say they bought it at a used book fair, and reviewed under the name, customer, with no contact information.
I sympathise with you Sara. However, there is nothing you can do. All I would advise is to avoid getting involved in forums and having too much personal contact. Goodreads is one forum that has a bad reputation for this type of problem. Nasty reviews are a fact of life now, so best just ignore this one review and wait for better reviews to arrive.
Hi Sara, it’s tough to get a bad review, especially if it seems to be malicious. But think of it in this way. I believe that bad reviews (the 1 and 2 stars) are generally good for sales, and there are a couple of reasons I say this.
Firstly, it makes your reviews look natural – 10x 5-star reviews looks too good to be true, but when there’s a 1 or 2 in there as well, it looks more natural. As if your book has reached a wider audience than your family and friends (and I’m not saying that’s the case; I’m talking about perceptions here). Readers can pick up malicious reviews. It’s usually fairly evident from the choice of words, and when people say they didn’t bother to read the book – well. Most readers will discount them and move on.
Secondly, as a reader, I always look at the 1 and 2 star reviews to see what that person didn’t like that I would like. For example, someone says “My grandmother bought this for me, and I hate steampunk” – then I know my daughter might very well enjoy it. “Too much graphic content” – not everyone has a problem with that. “Too complicated for me.” – I hate simplistic storylines, so my ears immediately prick up.
And thirdly, I sometimes read them just because I enjoy the dumb things people say: “My kindle broke and I couldn’t download it.” “My friend borrowed it and didn’t return it so I can’t read it”, “Amazon delivered it with a torn cover.” You have to admit they’re funny – and I certainly don’t take them seriously. And, they got me looking at the book when I might have moved on to another. Remember that Stephen King, JK Rowling, and John Grisham get 1 and 2 star reviews: it comes with the territory, So see if you can look on it as a boost for your sales, and I know that’s not easy, but in general, it’s a fact. You can even Google it!
I disagree that it’s a positive change mainly because it hits most the new authors who will face more difficulty in obtaining reviews and compete with books who received reviews prior to this change. The fact of not accumulating $50 on the Amazon account is not equivalent to not having the credibility to give non-abusive reviews. Many Amazon account holders read mainly free ebooks or occasionally spend the smaller amount on paid ones. I think it is very unfair to penalize authors by not allowing them to receive a fair review from readers who purchased their book or downloaded free promo copy. As authors who participate in KDP select program are limited to sell the book elsewhere than on Amazon (for 90 days) it’s not right that Amazon doesn’t allow the reviews because it kills the ability to compete with books that gathered reviews prior to this restriction. What If the majority of author’s readers is free ebook readers and small spenders? These authors are mistreated by Amazon.
Exactly. You hit the nail on the head. Have no idea how this guy could freak out in the last blog post and then support this one. This guy is the typical loyalist than Amazon loves. They screw you out of your work and you thank them for it.
You are absolutely correct. I read a massive amount of the free books, and on high days and holidays may treat myself to the occasional low cost book or two. Spending enough to meet the amazon review requirement simply isn’t in my budget at the current time with things as they are in the world. And now I can’t review because my pockets aren’t deep enough right now. I think it’s wrong.
What about free books under kindle Unlimited. It’s a monthly subscription for like $10.00 a month.
I just received an email that I have violated some amazon policy and none of my reviews will be accepted anymore. I am in shock since I literally spendred hundreds of dollars each month on amazon in addition to purchasing ebooks and many books on audible. I have received emails from amazon and their sellers in the past asking me to write reviews for products I have purchased and I have often done so — primarily when it was an item I really liked and found useful. I also leave reviews on goodreads. In the past year I have received 3 advance copies of books from authors I have always read and I was very excited and left reviews also stating that I had received an advance copy. I believe that in all of these cases I also purchased at least the audio book when available on audible. This email sounded like I was doing something underhanded which couldn’t be further from the truth. My entire family is also shocked because they’ve always teased for being someone who would write reviews — but I’ve always depended greatly on others’ reviews in my purchasing. This is a real letdown to me from amazon and, although I will obviously use them in the future for convenience (since I have limited mobility), I am definitely looking for other alternatives.
Same here in the UK plus all my previous reviews have been removed
Were your reviews only removed from Amazon UK, or also from Amazon US as well?
I assume both as I tried to leave review on US site and was unable to do so
Sorry to hear. I’m not sure what advice I can give you. I just checked my reviews and as far as I can tell, none have been deleted from Amazon UK or US. Perhaps they are too old for Amazon to worry about. :)
I’ve been sent the same message twice during 2018 and it appears to be an Amazon glitch. I got hold of the online customer service chat, and my status was restored after 24 hours (first time) and 5 days (second time). Both times Amazon emailed an apology and all my reviews (which had been removed – every last one of them) were reinstated. I know of several people who’ve had this problem and all had their privileges restored. Some telephoned and some emailed, but I’ve found that the online chat option is a bit quicker.
It happened to me twice last year, Patiotoole, and each time I got hold of the online customer service chat and it was fixed within days. They even apologised and all my reviews were restored! It seems to be a glitch of some sort because I know several people it’s happened to over the past year, and in case it was corrected quickly. Try contacting them and asking them to investigate.
Thanks for this updated information. :) — Suzanne
I believe the $50 rule applies to all Amazon stores, but it would be worth checking. As for your reviews, you should still be able to post reviews on all stores.
So, is this amazon.com or your local amazon stores? As I’m in the UK I generally only buy from the UK, although I have bought physical things and gift cards on .com to send to US friends.
Can I still review on .com, or am I restricted to UK?
Maybe I need to ask Amazon, but then again, I’m sure other people will ask.
If your Amazon account is UK, you can only leave reviews on the UK site.
Do you have to have spent $50 each time you want to leave a review?
No Annabelle. You only need to have spent $50.00 on your Amazon account.
Not true, I spent 159 and get the message (after 35 days I bought) :
To submit reviews, customers must make a minimum amount of valid creditcart or debit card purchases.
No, only $50 per year
The policy was introduced back in September 2016. Anne R, Allen blogged about it in October of that year.
Interesting question, RoryLynn. Amazon doesn’t explain if this applies to a household. However, I assume that only an Amazon account holder, who has spent $50, can now post reviews.
In the UK you now have to spend a minimum of £40 on prime subscriptions before you post a review
A bit rich, Brian.
Is this $50.00 minimum spend on anything from Amazon? My husband spends that much each month at least..I buy and have gotten free e books on Amazon and also from the library. I think if we like a book we should still be able to write a review..I personally will not get my own Amazon account..why should I..that means we would be spending even more money that we just do not have..I am retired and the hubby is disabled…js.
How can you possibly think this is a good idea? People who borrow books from libraries, or buy them through other stores, have been banned from commenting, and now people who don’t have $50 to spend on books are also banned. This hurts writers.
I don’t think this will hurt writers. Troll book reviews have been a big problem on Amazon, so I tend towards thinking that this is a positive move. The fewer one star troll reviews from free ebook hunters, the better.
I have been reviewing books on Amazon for over two years with no problems but, from Sunday 15th April, Amazon is not allowing me to post any more. I have spent approximately $100 au this year already. I went on holiday and took several books away with me and then reviewed then as soon as I returned home. I am wondering if this could be why Amazon have banned me from posting any more. Try as I might I cannot find anywhere to contact Amazon to discuss the problem. Can anyone help, please.
In the small print you have to have Amazon Prime as well
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