This is a fascinating forum post. Apparently, publishers are sending Amazon gift cards to reviewers. The reviewers buy the books and then write the reviews.
The reason publishers do it? To get the “Amazon Verified Purchase” badge on the review.
Cheating? You decide. After all, it’s just a way of getting review copies into the hands of reviewers, so there shouldn’t be a problem. However, if it’s a sneaky way of getting the “Amazon Verified Purchase” notification, making it look as if it’s a enthusiastic buyer who bought the book and then wrote the reviewâ€¦ it’s cheating.
Of course, Amazon is completely aware of who bought the gift card, who bought the book, and who wrote the review.
“Some authors and publishers, seeing that some customers attach an importance to those Amazon Verified Purchase badges that I think they don’t deserve, have tried to get round the problem by sending Amazon gift cards for the value of the product to their reviewers, who then use that credit to buy the product.”
It looks as if Amazon’s cracking down on reviews in which there’s a connection between the author, publisher, and cover designer.
Also from the above forum post:
A graphic designer, who does book covers for authors, received an email from Amazon that she is not allowed to review the books/stories that she designs the covers for, even though she gets paid a flat rate, regardless of sales of the book, even though she chooses to review only the books she likes or reads when she makes the cover, etc., but they still consider that a monetary and material connection to the product, so she can’t review them any longer.
I’m with Amazon on this one. I constantly buy Kindle books. Reading is my pastime, as well as my business. Over the past couple of months, I’ve become chary of four and five star reviews on a book, to the point where I read the one-star reviews first. More to the point, I trust the one-stars more than the five-stars.
I’m sure I’m missing out on some great reads this way, but what can you do if the system is being undermined and gamed?