The Case of the Disappearing Amazon Reviews

Peter Grabarchuk, the indie author of numerous Kindle puzzle books, has noticed that hundreds of the customer reviews for his books, including some from Amazon Top Reviewers like Grady Harp, have been pulled by Amazon. ‘Helpful’ clicks on the reviews that remain seem to be vanishing, as well. To share his experiences and cast a wide net seeking answers, Mr. Grabarchuk has opened a discussion group about the problem on Amazon. Here’s the post he made to open the group:

Dear Top Reviewers!

We believe you should be aware of the "interesting" practice Amazon does with reviews written by Top Reviewers for Top Rated Kindle books of indie publishers.

Sep 11, 2012 we’ve noticed that over 150 reviews from 30 reviewers were removed by Amazon from our Kindle books (>110 reviews), Kindle apps (>40 reviews) and paperback books (3 reviews). For example, today >20 reviews were removed from (Puzzlebook: 100 Puzzle Quizzes) and its rating dropped to 4.0. We are highly disappointed with such procedures and can not understand their nature.

For the last 12 months we’ve successfully developed and published 10 books and 4 apps for Kindle, all of them become Top Rated and some of them are bestsellers in the respective categories of Kindle store. During this time we’ve worked hard with over two hundred reviewers, many of which are Amazon Top reviewers.

Here is the list of reviewers (~30) whose reviews were removed: Alison Deluca, Book Him Danno, C. F. Hill, C. Wright, Carol, CCH, Chris Swanson, Connie M. Wright, D. Fowler, Drebbles, Grady Harp, Israel Drazin, J. Chambers, jjceo, John Galluzzo, K. Groh, K.P. Druckenmiller, Kate Policani, KatrinaAbrosa, Laurie Carlson, LaurieHere, Mark J. Fowler, Patty Magyar, Peter Faden, S. Deeth, Sheila Deeth, Stacie Wyatt, Tami Brady. Many of them are Amazon Top Reviewers… Unfortunately it seems to be not a full list since we see that reviews still disappear from our products… That’s really frustrating.

We affirm: no reviewer of our products has a financial interest in our product or a directly competing product. No reviewer of our products is an author, artist, publisher, or manufacturers of our products, or our family member.

We are working on new Kindle books and apps – please let us know what all this situation mean and how we should move forward?

Sep 11, 2012 we’ve sent this message to Jeff Bezos, KDP Support (Kindle books) and KDK Support (Kindle apps).

Sep 12, 2012 – 250 reviews were removed: 200 from our Kindle books and 50 from our Kindle apps.

Sep 12, 2012 we and some reviewers have received the following reply from KDP Support: 

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While we appreciate your time and comments, we limit customer participation to one review per product and reserve the right to remove reviews that include any of the following:
* Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product. This includes reviews that are a part of a paid publicity package
* Solicitations for helpful votes
If this continues we will also remove all your reviewing privileges from your account.
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and

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We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, third-party merchants selling the product, or anyone who receives any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product.
———————-

So, for today (Sep 12, 2012) already 250 reviews were removed from our products: were removed reviews of people who get ebook as Gifts; were removed reviews which were bought after reviewer redeemed $0.99 or $2.99 gift card to purchase book/app; and even were removed reviews of people who simply bought app/book without gift cards.

In total around 30 Top Reviewers were affected with over 500 positive votes disappear.

Each time reviewer agree to play and review our Kindle app – we send him/her $2.99 Amazon Gift card so that he/she redeems it and purchases app. (Unfortunately there is no possibility to gift Kindle app directly via "Give as a Gift" option). In case of ebooks – we send whether $0.99 Amazon Gift Card or directly Kindle book as Gift via "Give as a Gift" option. In both cases reviewer gets books/app to play and review after. 99% of all reviews on our products has "Amazon Verified Purchase" which confirms this. Thus, each reviewer gets FREE COPY OF THE PRODUCT, which is clearly allowed by Guidelines.

What we or reviewers have violated? How can we provide free copy of our product (Kindle book or app) in other way than we did? Why reviews which were made after redeemed Amazon Gift Card were removed?

Please share your thoughts and comments – we believe this practice should be changed. Maybe it’s just technical issue, but it seems to be something more complex and not correct in connection to indie publishers.

Peter Grabarchuk
The Grabarchuk Family

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View the full thread, and weigh in yourself if you have anything to add, at the Amazon discussion thread, here.

 

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