Thursday, November 8, 2012

This Thursday I’m Thinking About…Amazon Removing Author Reviews

I’m a writer. This means I get to know other writers and hang around with others who do what I do: we write. Some of these people get to be good friends of mine. Some of them I only get to admire from afar. Regardless of our relationship, we tend to value good writing and good books. We understand that the occasional not so good book may come up, but we hope it isn’t from one of us. And we keep writing.

I won’t address this issue from the sole viewpoint of being a writer. First and foremost, I’m a reader. Admittedly, when not crushing beneath deadlines and mommy duties and school stuff, I read much more than I write. And I’m a fast reader. This means that realistically, I can read up to ten complete novels in a month (I said I was fast). When I read something I feel warrants a review, it feels good to be able to do that, whether it’s a positive review or a negative one. It seems I won’t be able to do that on Amazon anymore.

I consider myself an informed reader. Not only have I been reading for the better part of thirty five years, but I know a good book when I read it. I can feel for well rounded characters and enjoy realistic settings. I absolutely love when a writer is able to pull me into their world with fresh ideas and beautiful descriptions. I also know a bad book when I read it, and though I will finish the entire thing anyway, I have some pretty informed ideas about what may have gone wrong in the execution (if that’s why the book didn’t win me over).

I’m not the reader who will leave a review based on a partial reading of a book and admit that I didn’t finish the book but not say why and leave a bad review anyway. I won’t leave a review, positive or negative, that clearly shows I didn’t read the book in question, at all. I understand the nuances and tropes of various genres of fiction and the requirements of successful non-fiction works. I have paid money in the form of higher education tuition to learn more about these things, in depth. But my reviews will be removed, and do not matter in the least. And those that do all the previous questionable things I mentioned I wouldn’t do, that no respectable reader/reviewer would do, will stay. And matter.

On the one hand, I understand there are some writers (I don’t know any) who might be waging war against competing works by posting unwarranted, negative reviews. Removing all reviews by authors won’t stop these folks, if they’re bound and determined to do something like that. They probably have at least one friend who can write their negative review in their stead, and this person will not be a writer. Anyone who is loading on positive reviews for their own works to boost ratings won’t be hindered by the removal of their author friends’ reviews. Those authors have friends who are non-writers who can be recruited for this purpose.

Writers tend to be big readers, which makes sense, because we have to know our craft and see how it’s employed successfully and unsuccessfully. That we can only share our views of what we read in select venues feels like a restriction I’m not sure I like. We can read as many books as we want and buy them all from Amazon. We can write as many books we want and sell them on Amazon. But we can’t talk about either on Amazon.

Restriction, indeed.

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