Guest Post by Irene Watson
Yes, they are and are succeeding in doing so. Last week I got an email from Nicole Sorkin at Pacific Book Review saying:
ALL of my reviews are missing. Completely gone. I called Amazon.com ASAP to try and get this straightened out, unfortunately the guy I talked to on the phone told me that I can't really do anything about it until Monday. My stomach is turning right now, because ALL of the reviews have just disappeared.
Monday arrived and this is what I got from her:
I just got off the phone with Amazon.com, one of the most frustrating phone calls in my life. I was talking to someone who has a difficult time with the English language which made it challenging to begin with. I was polite with her until she told me that I would have to wait 48 hours for an answer why all of my reviews are missing and that they would email my back in answer.
Nicole told the person on the phone that wasn't acceptable she was transferred to a Supervisor. After telling Nicole it will be taken care of she was put on hold for about 20 minutes. Nicole says:
She couldn't answer one question, and just told me that I would have to wait 48 hours so they could research it.
The promised email arrive saying:
Hello and thanks for writing to the Amazon Associates Program.
The synopses and reviews posted on our site are reprinted by Amazon.com with permission from the originators. We actually pay for this privilege. Each is the copyrighted property of some other source, and we do not have the right to pass along reproduction permission to our Associates.
Please understand that the purpose of posting reviews is to put your own unique stamp on your book or music selection. If every Associate who lists a certain title makes no personal comment about the selection, then there exists little or nothing to differentiate one site from another. If your recommendations come from your perspective, then your visitors will recognize the style and voice as your own and, we believe, be more likely to take your advice and buy the book. It is your expertise, after all, that brought them to your site in the first place.
Please remove the Amazon.com Reviews you have posted on your site http://www.pacificbookreview.com as this is against the Operating Agreement to the Associates Program.
This response makes no sense at all. The whole thing has nothing to do with synopses and the comment about reprinting reviews and paying for the privilege is absurd.
And what is more absurd is asking her to remove the reviews she posted on her site, written by her team members, because they are Amazon's reviews? Huh? What?
The above email was signed by a Donny T. and Nicole called Amazon asking to speak to him. The response was "he's busy let me have you speak to someone else." Nicole says:
Finally when I did speak to someone else they did acknowledge that the Amazon Associates Program has nothing to do with this issue and went on to say they would email me an answer. I did talk to someone who said they would have someone either call me today or for sure tomorrow.
She didn't get a call so she called again with no success. She says:
These people are hiding under rocks. I can see they don't want to answer any questions or even deal with me.
At the time of this writing there was still no resolution or a response from Amazon. (However, Nicole started to repost all the reviews.)
At this same time an author sent me an email saying that his review was removed from Amazon posted by a review site. I checked the Amazon site to see what was happening and noted there were no reviews starting 2007 for this reviewer. A few days later when I checked again, all the reviews were gone, including those up to 2007. I couldn't find a contact person on the review site to get permission to tell you who they are but did find this:
Book reviews by more than 100 qualified book reviewers. Over 15000 book reviews in over 40 different categories.
They claim to be one of the oldest review services and I can only assume they posted most of those reviews on Amazon. That's a lot of reviews to lose. And, what is even more interesting this specific review is a "Vine Voice." They have been "chosen" by Amazon to receive books from authors/publishers prior to being available to the public.
I contacted Jim Cox from Midwest Book Review passing this information on and hoping he would have some wise words considering he has been reviewing books for over 30 years. He has nearly 60,000 reviews on Amazon which affects a lot of people, especially if Amazon decides to remove them. He is dumb-founded as we are but said:
The number of Midwest Book Reviews has apparently been cut back to 1,319 as of this moment when I just did an Amazon search for "Midwest Book Review". So it seems we've been cut back as well.
However, when I checked his profile it does show 59,144 reviews. So, it seems like Amazon reinstated his reviews.
At this point we don't know why Amazon is removing the reviews, and I'm not sure if they are targeting specific reviewers or what is behind all this chaotic mess. They did say it had nothing to do with the Associates Account but to this point Nicole isn't able to find out why she and the other reviewers were targeted. There may be others that I'm not aware of but when I did check the few I do know the reviews are still up. Hopefully this insane maneuver on Amazon's part has come to an end and they restore the reviews for Nicole and the other sites.
Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.