Sunday, August 6, 2017

Verified Book Purchase - Amazon




by Linda Thorne

Has anyone else noticed on Amazon that reader reviews only show if the book was purchased from Amazon? Once upon a time they all showed. There's a way to see them, but will the average online shopper even bother? They may, but only if they can figure it out.

Assuming the shopper is aware he is not seeing all the reviews, how does he find them? The offer to see all is hidden behind links that say "verified purchase reviews" above and below the list of reviews (even though some are not verified purchase reviews). Click on customer reviews and those for Amazon purchased books will appear under a big, bold heading that says: Top Customer Reviews. An obscure little link above that heading will say, "See all verified purchase reviews," which you're already looking at. If you click on this top link, you'll be offered an opportunity to see all the reviews. At the bottom there's another tiny link that says, "See all verified purchases (newest first)." If you click there, you'll see other filters, but none offering all reviews. You'll have to click on a second "verified purchase" filter to get an offer for both verified purchase (a 3rd time) and finally, all reviews.  

Amazon is responsible for its success and the company can set up its website any way it wants. The problem is most authors sell their books in other places too, but look to Amazon as their power base. Bookstores deserve a chance to stay in business. Authors want to sell books at events, booths, and book signings. There are book giveaways of all kinds. Then there are the professional reviewers they seek. Authors are known to spend hours and days in search of a known, approachable reviewer who will hopefully read their ARC and give them an Amazon review, especially if they have a new book coming out. The bottom line is if a reader wants to write a book review, that reader will be apt to go to Amazon to do it. If he didn't purchase the book there, most shoppers will never see his review.

The reason for this change likely resulted from abuse of the book review system. If Amazon gets that under control, I hope they'll consider being more generous with review space for those who bought, won, or were gifted the book somewhere else. 

15 comments:

Neil Waring said...

I am sure your last paragraph says it all. Not sure they will ever change back, not now, a sad truth of modern society. By the way, nice post! (He ends with the dreaded exclamation point) :-)

Linda Thorne said...

Thank you, Neil. No, I doubt Amazon will ever go back to the old way either. They are in the money making business.

Susan Oleksiw said...

Amazon is certainly a mixed blessing, and I'm waiting for an alternative to appear. That might force them to be more open and neutral, but until then, I have to spread my net wider, as do other writers, to reach more readers. Thanks for a clear, concise explanation of the problem.

Liane Spicer said...

Excellent post, Linda. I was not aware that one could even find the other reviews. I too have mixed feelings about Amazon and I'm more and more disillusioned with them as time passes--both as an author and as a customer. I opted to go wide with my indie books two years ago and get off the infuriating Amazon train. I've never regretted it.

Linda Thorne said...

I knew they showed the total number of reviews authors had, but I honestly didn't think they'd let you see what those other reviews said. I sent them an e-mail and that's how I found out you need to keep clicking on the "verified purchase" tabs even though you are looking for reviews for NON Amazon purchased books.

Liane Spicer said...

Wow. Just...wow. That's Amazon for ya. :( The irony is that other books might very well have been purchased at Amazon--just not by the persons doing the reviewing.

Linda Thorne said...

Yes, and some of us get our book ideas from Goodreads, an offshoot of Amazon or we use the Goodreads book giveaway for promotion.

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, very complicated.

Amy Reade said...

Excellent post, Linda, even if it did leave me mad at Amazon (again).

Maggie King said...

If Amazon and Facebook would only give us a heads up when they make changes, we could adjust to them.

Linda Thorne said...

Thank you Amy. I agree, Maggie. Also the changes seem obvious self-centered on the part of the site.

Morgan Mandel said...

It seems that it's been a while since Amazon adopted the policy of only posting reviews from readers who purchase from them. For a time, lots of fake reviews and reviews for compensation were showing up. The only way to find other reviews is to go to other publishing sites and see what's on them.

When I have a free promotion on Amazon, those reviews are counted in.

Since I only have one book now published on other sites, and I made it permafree, I'm not too concerned about that policy.


Morgan Mandel

Linda Thorne said...

I didn't know they allowed their Amazon giveaways to be under "Verified Purchase." That's nice to know. I wish they'd do the same for Goodreads giveaways as that is such a nice service.

Beth Fine said...

Thank you, Linda, for the heads up about the change in review policy. You are so right that authors depend on Amazon to spread the word, even if the books were bought elsewhere. I've even been guilty of saying to readers, "Post a review on Amazon." It's difficult enough to generate reviews, much less to expect someone to navigate layers of links to do so. Now the future buyers who want to read reviews will have the same challenge. Yes, Amazon can set up its business however it likes; but making an incomprehensible path does not inspire buyers, readers, or reviewers. A few years back, I tried to get their jumbled display of my series into putting my books in order. That seemed so logical that way. I even asked for my books to be posted on (amazon.it) because my series had a catalog ad running in Italy...but alas.

S.J. Francis said...

Excellent post here, Linda. Well said. As if getting a book review isn't hard enough, amazon makes it even harder. that's probably why so many people are quitting amazon or are not leaving reviews. I know of some people whose reviews were denied because amazon thought they knew the author. I, myself was denied for the first time with a book review for an author I do not know, never met and are not connected on social media.
I write reviews for everything I buy. some critical descriptive reviews have actually saved me money from not buying something. If amazon makes it harder for people to write or find reviews, why write them?
fortunately, I think amazon may have gone back to the old way when they show all reviews, or perhaps, they rotate how they do it. I was just on their page and all reviews showed for the items I viewed. Only time will tell. amazon has gotten so big and continues to grow that it is now its own country. That leaves us, the consumer and the manufacturers, in our case authors without much recourse.
Cheers!
S.J. Francis