Policy Change On Amazon Book Reviews With $50 Minimum

Amazon book review guidelines $50 Minimum Spend

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 in particular.

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

However, one change is really worth knowing about.

As it is an update, I can’t precisely say when it changed. But by my reckoning, it must have been 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.

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.

 

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

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.

 

Conclusion

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.

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 five 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.

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

Avatar for Derek Haines

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

  • Avatar for ClearlySeeIt
    March 20, 2021 at 9:57 pm
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    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.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Ged
    September 16, 2020 at 10:04 am
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    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?

    Reply
  • Avatar for Dian
    January 22, 2020 at 5:05 pm
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    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.

    Reply
    • Avatar for Judith W.
      March 14, 2021 at 12:35 am
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      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.

      Reply
  • Avatar for Cee Savage
    January 6, 2020 at 6:20 pm
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    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.

    Reply
    • Avatar for Jason Davis
      June 25, 2020 at 11:54 pm
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      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.

      Reply
  • Avatar for You don
    October 20, 2019 at 4:36 am
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    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.

    Reply
  • Avatar for V. L. Smith
    September 10, 2019 at 4:24 pm
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    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.

    Reply

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