Amazon has taken a new approach and policy change in its ongoing battle against paid and fake customer reviews on its products.
Whereas before, Amazon deleted these product reviews or went after the provider of paid reviews, Amazon has now set its legal sights on sellers.
This is important for self-publishing authors.
If you are publishing your ebooks and books on Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing, Lulu or even through a publisher, you are an Amazon seller.
If your book is listed for sale or even offer a free or discounted product on Amazon, you are an Amazon seller.
According to an article on TechCrunch, Amazon is suing sellers for buying fake reviews.
While the article details three legal suits that are not connected to ebooks or books, the fact that Amazon is targeting sellers should forewarn authors that Amazon has changed tack.
Up to now, if an author bought fake reviews, the only ramifications were that these positive reviews might be deleted. Amazon would go after the provider of the good reviews, such as it did in the case of Fiverr.
But now, Amazon has issued a clear warning by initiating these three lawsuits.
If you are an Amazon seller, and you use paid Amazon reviews, you are risking being taken to court by Amazon. Not a pleasant thought.
Paid and fake book reviews are rife on Amazon; even accepted by some as just being part and parcel of the business of promoting a book.
Many authors shrug their shoulders and say, “well, if you can’t beat them, join them.”
I was offered paid reviews by a provider some months back.
When I noted that is was against Amazon’s policy and Terms of Service, I was told that all the successful authors were buying Amazon book reviews. Also that I would never stand a chance of selling well unless I bought a lot of Amazon verified purchase reviews.
Needless to say, the provider was probably right in a way. I didn’t buy any reviews, and my books are definitely not up in the top twenty bestsellers.
I am not sure if Amazon’s new threat of legal action against sellers will work. But it proves that Amazon is still trying to rid its stores of fake and incentivized reviews that attempt to manipulate rankings and deceive Amazon customers.
In previous actions, though, Amazon has sometimes used a hammer to kill a flea. In the process, it deleted a lot of honest reviews, so beware.
The safest way to avoid any problems is not to get involved in any review in exchange, fake or paid Amazon reviews or any attempt to influence review ratings.
Okay, your book may not do so well. But at least you won’t risk being sued by Amazon. Or worse, having your Amazon KDP account suspended.
Waiting for readers to write reviews of your book takes time, but it is the safest route.