Paid Amazon reviews never went away.
Despite Amazon’s book review clean out three years ago, after the revelations by John Locke about paying for book reviews, nothing has changed at all.
Well, apart from the fact that a lot of honest reviews were deleted by Amazon during their review cull at the time.
Amazon did not take much more than token action against paid book reviews back then but instead decided to remove reviews posted by fellow authors, or by those deemed to have a personal (even if only by social media) connection with the author.
Because of this, a lot of genuine, honest and unpaid for positive reviews were deleted. But what about the dishonest paid Amazon book reviews? Hardly any were removed.
But now we hear that Amazon is going after Fiverr. What?
After three years of knowing very well that Fiverr is, was and has been the ‘go to‘ site for authors wanting paid Amazon book reviews? It’s hardly been a state secret. I just did a quick search of Fiverr and returned hundreds of offers to write reviews.
The Guardian reports that Amazon is to sue 1,000 fake reviewers. However, I am not sure what the difference is between a fake and a paid review. One thing is certain, though, paid Amazon book reviews are rife, and Amazon has ignored this issue for a very long time.
Amazon paid book reviews is a big business.
While it is commendable that Amazon is taking action against Fiverr reviewers, it is in fact only the tip of the iceberg. Even if Fiverr product reviews are closed down tomorrow, a quick search on Twitter will find hundreds of offers to write and post Amazon book reviews.
I asked one review site on Twitter for their price. For a verified Amazon Review – $30. Verified meaning that the reviewer will buy the ebook and therefore be able to post a verified Amazon book review.
This is where Amazon has a real problem, though.
Fiverr reviews will probably be easy for Amazon to reduce because for $5 these are not reviews involving a verified purchase. But pay a little more, even on Fiverr, and a verified purchaser can post a review, and of course, earn money.
Paid reviews are everywhere.
It’s not only Amazon who has a problem with fake and paid reviews. TripAdvisor fell foul last year and was fined $600,000 for allowing fake reviews to be posted on its site.
In fact, almost every site on the Internet that allows reviews is full of fake and paid reviews.
So as much as everyone says that paid Amazon book reviews are a curse, the fact of the matter is that they are a reality and no matter what action Amazon takes, they will continue.
Every author knows that to sell books, you need reviews, and to get reviews, you need to sell books. That’s the catch 22 that is resolved by paying for book reviews, and why it was so successful for John Locke, and why the practice continues today, on a commercial scale. Paid book reviews are big business.
As one reviewer said in a message, “people think there is a taboo regarding paid book reviews, despite the practice being utilised by some big-name authors on a regular basis.”
While authors need reviews to sell books, don’t forget that Amazon doesn’t do badly out of it either. Reviews are one of the prime movers for sales of all Amazon products, so don’t expect the Amazon world to change too much.
Sure, Amazon will give Fiverr a hard time, for a while, but at the end of the day, Amazon needs reviews just as much as the product suppliers do.
So it will be as it always has been, again.
Money makes money, and those willing to invest will reap the rewards for paying for advertising, even in the form of Amazon paid reviews.
Whatever you want to call it, fair, fake or foul, it’s all paid advertising, isn’t it?
Update: Amazon has now introduced a $50.00 spend minimum to stop fake book reviews.