Have you noticed that reviews from Amazon.com are aggregated across all other international Amazon sites, but that the reverse is not true?
If someone kindly posts a review of a book on Amazon.co.uk, it is stuck there, and not aggregated to Amazon.com. Why?
Is a UK review less valuable than a US review? Are reviews from Canadians, Australians or India inferior to US reviews?
Amazon, like many US tech companies, still really has a problem when it comes to internationalising themselves.
If is it possible to aggregate US readers’ Amazon ebook reviews to all of Amazon’s international Kindle sites, then it is certainly possible to aggregate ALL international reviews back to an ebook on Amazon Kindle US, as well as on all the other international sites. I mean, it’s only a little bit of metadata!
This problem is especially painful for UK authors. While they may gain a lot of reviews from readers in the UK, not one is added to their ebook on Amazon US, which handicaps potential US book sales.
But if they are fortunate enough to get US reviews, these are automatically added to their book on Amazon UK. Most streets are two-way, aren’t they?
No, not with Amazon. Amazon ebook reviews are definitely a one-way US street.
The problem is not only for international authors though.
US authors are missing out on reviews that are being posted by their international readers, which fail to appear on Amazon’s US site. So this is a problem for all authors.
One can only hope that Amazon discovers soon that there is a planet outside of Seattle. It’s called the world. Truly global companies understand this and don’t need to be shown a third grader’s atlas to understand it.
But it’s not only Amazon who could improve its act.
Online book reviews are vital for authors, but most online retailers seem to give reviews little attention.
Sure, if someone posts a review on Apple, B&N, Kobo or Smashwords, it gets published, yet in total isolation.
In the case of Smashwords, why can’t reviews received on their site be combined into a book’s metadata and updated on all of their aggregated retailers?
And, stretching the technological friendship a bit here, why can’t reviews received on their aggregated retailers be added back to a book’s metadata, and included in any updates?
Amazon ebook reviews, or any reviews, anywhere, sell ebooks.
For ebook retailers, it’s no secret that ebook reviews sell ebooks, so it is to their advantage to do better in this regard. Unfortunately, though, they aren’t collectively doing very well at all.
Whether it be Amazon ebook reviews, which are insanely US biased, or reviews on Smashwords, Apple, B&N or Kobo, which are completely lost in isolation, more can and should be done.
But until authors make a noise about it, nothing will change.
Perhaps then, it’s time for authors to start grumbling, moaning, complaining and posting about how little is being done about making their hard-won book reviews visible to readers all around the world, including the US!
Why aren’t all ebook reviews equal? Maybe it’s time to ask this question.
I started my working life as a lithographer and then spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of the Alps.
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