What Happened To Your Amazon Book Reviews

The site has recently purged thousands without explanation, creating controversy over what constitutes a valid review.

What's the Latest Development?


In the last few months, Amazon has deleted an unspecified number of user reviews from its site with no public explanation, generating heated discussion among writers and reviewers about what it means to review a work in the open space of the Internet. Some writers have been told that the site "[does] not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product," including writers, but they say that this rule isn't consistently applied. One suggests that Amazon applied a broad brush: "[T]hey caught a lot of shady reviews, but a lot of innocent ones were erased, too."

What's the Big Idea?

Besides selling books, reviews help Amazon choose new books for its recent publishing venture. To that end, recently publicized cases of writers manipulating the review process to garner more attention and make more sales may be the most likely reason for the crackdown. Some writers, such as J.A. Konrath, see no problem with fake reviews, but some readers differ. In fact, one unusually prolific and, to some, unreasonably complimentary reviewer, retired librarian Harriet Klausner, has generated her own "fan" group which tracks and methodically discredits each review she posts. One member says, "[W]e've all been duped into buying books based on her reviews."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Related Articles

Why Japan's hikikomori isolate themselves from others for years

These modern-day hermits can sometimes spend decades without ever leaving their apartments.

700,000 Japanese people are thought to be hikikomori, modern-day hermits who never leave their apartments (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images).
Mind & Brain
  • A hikikomori is a type of person in Japan who locks themselves away in their bedrooms, sometimes for years.
  • This is a relatively new phenomenon in Japan, likely due to rigid social customs and high expectations for academic and business success.
  • Many believe hikikomori to be a result of how Japan interprets and handles mental health issues.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less