Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Should Authors Review Books?
By Steve Weddle
Following last week's post about Amazon deleting my review of Chad Rohrbacher's KARMA BACKLASH, many people here and elsewhere have suggested that friends should not be allowed to review each other's books.
The argument is that a review from a friend is simple back-scratching. I can see where folks are coming from this.
But I wonder whether it's an issue of "full disclosure." We want "honest" reviews, not sock puppets and not proud parents, right?
If Amazon had a button that said "Friend of Author" or something, would it matter? I know it seems silly, but I'm trying to work out where the problem is. Is it the personal relationship with the author that should preclude the posting of a review? Maybe it is. Maybe too many good reviews is a problem. Maybe too many Facebook friends and Tweeps have taken authors' advice about posting a review.
As I said elsewhere last week, if the problem really is that Amazon does not want authors to say nice things about their fellow authors’ books, then perhaps a button akin to the “verified purchase” option that Amazon has provided.
Is Amazon also applying this standard to music? If I’m friends with the drummer from SOCK PUPPET ALGORITHM, am I not allowed to review their CD?
As we’re all just six degrees from Kevin Bacon, is no one allowed to review movies?
I'm not trying to make light of the problem, if that's what the problem is. I'm trying to understand it.
To me, it seems the biggest problem is with anonymous reviewers or people posting under fake names.
When I reviewed KARMA BACKLASH, I posted as Steve Weddle (Author). You could click my name and come up with a list of books with my stories in them. Some of those books also contain stories by Chad Rohrbacher. So, you know, you could see that there is a connection. To me, that seems like a good idea.
If I were to create a fake account and post the same review as a customer called "Charlie Chumpington IV," then there would be no way to tell who really wrote the review.
The more I think about it, the more I think I'm totally cool with Full Disclosure. I'm just not OK with anonymous reviews.
As my review got deleted because I posted under my name, Amazon seems to have chosen anonymous reviewing over full disclosure, at least for now.
You can still one-star a book because it's too expensive. You can still one-star a book with this review: "I didn't read this book. Didn't even buy it. The author's name sounds dumb."
What do you folks think?