Policy Change On Amazon Book Reviews Updated With $50 Minimum

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Amazon Combats Fake Reviews With $50 Minimum Spend

Combating fake Amazon book reviews with new $50 minimum spend

Amazon book reviews over the years have attracted more scams than can possibly be imagined. 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, many articles written about problems associated with Amazon customer reviews in relation to 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 has always taken a dim view of paid book reviews which are still a problem.

Read More: How to recover lost Amazon book reviews with a simple workaround.

Bring out the Amazon heavy hammer

It must be said that Amazon has tried to resolve these problems in a number of ways over the years since the advent of Kindle in particular.

Some measures seemed draconian at the time; especially a few years ago when Amazon started deleting masses of existing book reviews.

It was never fully explained, however, the deleted reviews were often classed as being posted by someone with a close connection to the author.

While Amazon was less than clear about what a close connection or relationship meant, many authors believed that it was not only reviews posted by family and friends, or in some case business associates, but also reviews posted by social media connections.

In any event, what was correctly assumed or not, Amazon deleted a lot of reviews at the time and while successfully eradicating many fake reviews, some honest reviews were deleted as well.

It is unfortunate that when Amazon has acted on scams and fake reviews in the past, a lot of innocent authors have been caught up in the fix.

But at last, Amazon takes a sensible solution to fake book reviews.

Unless you are an avid reader of Amazon’s terms and conditions and community guidelines, it is impossible to know what changes are made.

Amazon never dates the changes that it makes, so it is next to impossible to know when a change is made.

However, one change is really worth knowing about.

As it is updated, I can’t precisely say when it changed, but by my reckoning, it must have been made in the last few weeks or couple of months.

The important change is this one sentence:

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

You can view the full page here.

This is a very positive change in regard to book reviews because it will greatly reduce the ability of click farms.

By adding a $50 minimum spend to Amazon book reviews, the 1,000s of Amazon accounts that have been used to manipulate reviews and free ebook downloads will now be unable to contribute customer reviews.

What can authors do about free ebook promotions and book reviews now?

The new $50 condition should mean that any Amazon book reviews posted from now on will be from real Amazon customers.

This is really 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 so as to avoid seeming like you are offering inducements to review your book.

Conclusion

All authors want book reviews. This is a given fact.

However, the most worthwhile reviews are gained organically, which 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 can be slow going to attract a good number of reviews for a new book.

Amazon has made it clear over the years, and now with its change to add a $50 minimum spend, that it is serious about trying to maintain at least some degree of integrity in Amazon book reviews.

Its aim is clear. Amazon wants customer reviews that are posted by customers, and not by click farms, or gained by 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. Details can be found here on Amazon UK under the heading, Who can write a review? 

On the same page link above, there is also mention of non-verified reviews. It states that customers can submit 5 non-Amazon Verified Purchase reviews each week. This would seem to confirm that readers can add book reviews to a book without buying or receiving it for free. Logically, however, their account must have spent £40.00 to be able to do so.

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. Please add your comment if you have been affected recently by deleted reviews on Amazon.

Further reading: Love Free Books But Clueless On How To Write A Book Review

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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

33 thoughts on “Policy Change On Amazon Book Reviews Updated With $50 Minimum

  • 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
    • In the UK you now have to spend a minimum of £40 on prime subscriptions before you post a review

      Reply
  • Do you have to have spent $50 each time you want to leave a review?

    Reply
    • No Annabelle. You only need to have spent $50.00 on your Amazon account.

      Reply
      • 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.

        Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • Thanks for this updated information. :) — Suzanne

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
    • Same here in the UK plus all my previous reviews have been removed

      Reply
      • Were your reviews only removed from Amazon UK, or also from Amazon US as well?

        Reply
        • I assume both as I tried to leave review on US site and was unable to do so

          Reply
          • 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. :)

  • What about free books under kindle Unlimited. It’s a monthly subscription for like $10.00 a month.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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?

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • Had the same problem with Amazon UK but a simple email to customer services rectified the issue with all my previous reviews fully restored

    Reply
    • 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

      Reply
  • 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!

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  • 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?

    Reply

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