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Amazon Says No

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For all of you who blog for books, Amazon just released new community guidelines:

“Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.”

Amazon’s move follows a string of lawsuits against companies who were paid to post positive reviews on their site and cheat Amazon’s system by using reviews to make a book seem like it was one of the top rankings. Over the years, some authors have tried to manipulate the system in the name of marketing. Some secular self-publishing sites even forbid anything less than a three star rating all in the name of “helping” each other sell more books, instead of improving their writing.

Book reviewers are trying to be optimistic. However, most publishing, book reviewing companies, and blog tours require a review in exchange for a free book. This is against Amazon’s new community guidelines. Only those in their Vine program are allowed to post reviews. While book reviewers remain angry with this new move, it is Amazon’s right to protect the integrity of their review system.

I urge you as Christians to also honor this system. Here are some suggestions for posting reviews on Amazon or another retail site:

  • Free Book, But No Review Required. After you write your review, post this below the review: “I have received a free book, but the publisher has not required me to post this review. I do this on my own.” This satisfies the FCC and more than likely, Amazon. 
  • Free Book in Exchange for a Review. Post on other retail sites. Publishers aren’t usually requiring an Amazon review. 
  • Buy The Book You Want to Review. Now you are a customer. You can review the book. 
The FCC requires the following on all blog posts (use your own variation): “Free book received in exchange for a review.” 

Instead of being angry at Amazon, let’s shine as Christians. Let’s respect their guidelines and continue to use book reviewing as a way to influence and reach a lost world with the Gospel.