The Power of Amazon

There has been a lot of chatter lately on the discussion group run by the publisher of Peter about the need for Amazon reviews, and how and why reviews get removed. The publisher was even prompted to email Amazon and ask for clarification regarding the rules for reviews and what is and isn't allowed.

The reason for this consternation is that many marketing outlets require a book to have a minimum number of Amazon reviews and/or a certain number of stars [Amazon uses a star rating of 1 to 5] before they will consider promoting a book. To make this even more narrow, these outlets really only consider Amazon US, meaning if your book has more reviews and stars on Amazon UK you're SOL.

And so there is this uproar now about how some book bloggers don't post their reviews to Amazon. Because apparently the only useful review is one that is on Amazon.

Therein lies the problem.

We've given Amazon all the power.

I know that the marketing outlets and promoters are swamped. They use Amazon as a shorthand for deciding whether to accept a book because otherwise there's just too much stuff out there to swim through. But allowing Amazon to be the metric, the gatekeeper . . . All these indie authors, all these small publishers who were trying to get away from the heavy-handedness of bigger publishers and corporations are now caught in the net of one of the biggest businesses in the world.

Amazon cut our royalties when it began selling books dirt cheap to the point that readers all but refuse to pay for books any more. Now Amazon is cutting our ability to market our books either.

Any and every review should be a star in the crown of a writer. Even the bad ones mean someone is at least reading the book. The fact that it has come down to agonizing over whether or not a review gets posted to Amazon—whether or not you're going to hit that minimum—just shows how much power Amazon has grabbed. Not only from writers but from book bloggers and other literary sources.

If it's not on Amazon, it doesn't count? Really? Is that the world we want to live in?

I keep thinking of that megastore in Wall-E. That's going to be Amazon before long. If it's not on Amazon, it might as well not exist. That's where we're headed.

Every review counts. Or should. No matter where it's posted.

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