GalleyCat Readers Debate Paid Reviews on Amazon

By Dianna Dilworth Comment

Earlier this week, we reported about how Reader Views, a company dedicated to reviewing books and author publicity, has been banned from posting their reviews on Amazon. Unlike a traditional media review, Reader Views gets paid for some of its reviews through selling publicity services to authors.

GalleyCat readers responded with varying opinions. Some people thought that Amazon was out of line for removing these reviews. Judy commented: “Credible reviews about a work should be encouraged by Amazon. I don’t understand their rationale. I have seen reviews where the person reviewing clearly didn’t read the book and just posts something nasty for the sake of it. Amazon allows those reviews, but takes down reviews from reputable sources. Really makes no sense whatsover. I am very disappointed in Amazon about this.”

Others feel that sponsored reviews are fine, so long as they are labeled as such. BridgetMarmion commented: “Speaking as a reader:  ALL paid reviews, regardless of whether Amazon or any other service posts or publishes it, should be identified as a paid review.  I’ll leave it to others to design the appealing icon that should run at the end of any paid review.  And I’ll leave it to smart, discerning readers to decide then if they trust certain paid sources to also run objective reviews.”

One tipster pointed out that Amazon may be trying to comply with FTC rules. The anonymous source wrote: “In October 2009, The Federal Trade Commission clarified and adopted requirements that mandate the disclosure of any financial interest in advertising. Basically, if you received an interest in a product that you are promoting, you need to let people know the nature of that interest.  The law is actually pretty amazing. It’s been on the books for a long time. The core principle is ‘truth in advertising.’ If you look at these FTC requirements it’s possible to understand that without an express disclosure in each and every paid review, Amazon would not necessarily be able to remain in compliance with the regulations.”