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 Amazon deleted a lot of honest ones during their cull at the time.
Amazon did not take much more than token action against paid book reviews back then.
But instead decided to remove those 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 did a quick search of Fiverr and returned hundreds of offers to write reviews for products on Amazon, including books.
However, I am not sure what the difference is between a fake and paid.
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 are big business.
While it is commendable that Amazon is taking action against Fiverr, it is, in fact, only the tip of the iceberg.
Even if Fiverr is 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 they will buy the ebook and therefore be able to post as verified on Amazon.
This is where Amazon has a real problem, though.
Fiverr will probably be easy for Amazon to reduce because, for $5, these are not involving a verified purchase.
But pay a little more, even on Fiverr, and an Amazon verified purchaser who publishes them can earn quite a bit of money.
Paid is everywhere
It’s not only Amazon who has a problem.
TripAdvisor fell foul and was fined $600,000 for allowing fake customers to post on its site.
In fact, almost every site on the Internet that allows customer feedback is full of fake and paid.
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 them; you need to sell books.
That’s the catch 22 that is resolved by paying, and why it was so successful for John Locke, and why the practice continues today, on a commercial scale.
Paid book promotion in any form is big business.
As one said in a message, “people think there is a taboo regarding paid book reviews, despite the practice being utilized 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.
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.