Amazon Customer Review Guidelines have been updated…
In an attempt to prevent spam accounts and click farms leaving fake reviews, Amazon recently changed a requirement on their Customer Review Guidelines. It is now necessary for someone to have spent at least $50 on Amazon before being able to review any product.
The older version of their guidelines reads:
“Who may write a review? To write a Customer Review, you must have used your account to purchase any item or service on Amazon (free digital content doesn’t qualify toward this requirement). We do not permit reviews of the same ASIN from customers in the same household.”
The new updated version reads:
“Who may write a review? To post a review, customers must spend at least $50.00 using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the $50.00 minimum. Customers in the same household cannot submit a review for the same product.”
While I applaud Amazon for trying to cut down on fake reviews, the new guidelines may also have implications for the honest reviewer. Note the specific change about using a valid credit or debit card. I understand that Amazon is also trying to prevent sellers from giving buyers pre-paid gift cards to buy their products in exchange for a review. However, what does this mean for children and teenagers who do not have their own credit or debit card? I’m not sure if this is common practice in other countries, but my teenage daughter does not have her own bank cards. This therefore means that she will no longer be able to do any book reviews as she buys books for her Kindle from pre-paid gift cards provided by myself and other family members. This is a pity as I was trying to teach her to write good reviews as part of her homeschooling curriculum. I also wonder how this new rule affects Prime subscribers?
Regarding customers in the same household not being able to review the same product. Note this used to read ‘the same ASIN’ and now reads ‘the same product’. So I assume this now means that all products are included, not only ebooks. While I understand that Amazon is trying to prevent unscrupulous sellers from opening several Amazon accounts to review their own products, again, I feel this may also have implications for the honest reviewer. Family living in the same household are not able to review the same product, even if they all purchased it. But, it goes even further than that. Amazon regards anyone that has ever logged in from the same IP address as connected and therefore as ‘in the same household’. So for example, if I log into my mother’s Amazon account to help her with it, even if she lives on another continent, we can never review the same product again. I’m assuming this also includes Internet cafes and WIFI spots. In other words, if two friends go to a coffee shop together to work and both log in to their Amazon accounts, then they can also never again review the same products.
However, I think that any implications for the honest reviewers, as painful as they may seem, are worth it to stop the fake reviews on Amazon.
The following guidelines, which all authors should be aware of, remain the same. Amazon removes customer reviews that violate any Customer Review Guidelines.
Family members or close friends of the author may not write Customer Reviews. If you have a direct or indirect financial interest in a product, or perceived to have a close personal relationship with its author, Amazon will most likely remove the review.
No paid reviews are allowed (whether in the form of money or posted in exchange for compensation of any kind including gift certificates). The exception to this rule is when a free or discounted book is given to a reader up front in exchange for a review where it is made clear that the author welcomes both positive and negative feedback. In this case, the reviewer must clearly disclose this fact by adding something along the lines of, “I received this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review” to their review on Amazon. The only type of paid review that Amazon supports is an editorial review.
If you are unsure of anything, please read Amazon’s Customer Review Guidelines FAQs from Authors
Many of the book review websites adhere to the Amazon Customer Review Guidelines by charging for their time and offering your book to all of their reviewers for free. They do not guarantee positive feedback and they require all reviewers to add a disclaimer to their review. Reviews that are placed on Amazon by readers who do not purchase your book do not show up as verified purchases.
Here are some places to find honest book reviews from real readers that comply with the Amazon Customer Review Guidelines.
Note that you are not paying for reviews on these websites, you are paying for the webmaster’s time to distribute your book to people looking for free books in exchange for honest book reviews.
Choosy Bookworm’s Read & Review Program $125 for roughly 30 reviews
They advertise your book in their newsletter and on their website. Subscribers can then sign up to receive your ebook as a gift from you in return for an honest review within 14-21 days. Books can be gifted either as Amazon gifted copies or as a PDF or MOBI file.
Huge Orange $15 for 1 guaranteed review
You upload a free copy of your book and they distribute it to reviewers.
Authors X Promotion $20 (special introductory price at September 2016) for up to 20 reviews
The read and review program allows you to add your book to their website and wait for 20 readers to request a copy. You can gift them a copy via Amazon or email them a copy.
Review Saint $40 for 10+ reviews
You can either give them the files or send them a payment to cover book purchases and they gift your book to the reviewers.
Book Tips $50 for 10 interested reviewers
They put your book in front of their Booktasters community of reviewers and connect you with any interested reviewers so you can deliver any kind of copy. They keep tracking the process till the reviewers post their reviews.
In order to get reviews for your book without paying for them, read my article on Getting Reviews for Your Book