Amazon Central is the faceless unit – no last names, no credentials and no phone contact numbers – that decides whether an author’s work and reputation can be bashed and trashed.
At Amazon.com, author reviews are a spectator sport – where any anonymous person can condemn a book, so long as the “reviewer” purchased a single item from Amazon. The only identification required is “location.” Purchase a can-opener, and you can puncture any work.
A writer might dedicate years to a manuscript, only to see it ripped apart overnight by a jealous competitor, zealot or a talentless nobody who takes out his/her frustration on both new and accomplished authors.
The reviewer is not required to read the book – much less to provide a balanced opinion. Positive reviews are often trumped by vile or vitriolic attacks.
Shouldn’t Amazon accord authors the right to remove incendiary “reviews” – and specifically so-called “reviews” that effectively call for burning the book?
Here’s what Amazon refers to as “objectionable material”: Obscene or distasteful content; Profanity or spiteful remarks.
But if an anonymous reviewer trashes a book and/or the author – declares that the book is worthless, insists that no one should buy it – the review is not considered objectionable. A new novel received three very positive reviews, followed by a review that scorched the writer, claimed the novel had no plot and declared that no one should waste their time reading the book. The reviewer was anonymous – except for their Amazon nickname – whereas the positive reviews were written by people of stature. Just more bash and trash, courtesy of Amazon.
Complaints to Amazon’s “Community Team” – the great arbiter of reviewer content – are useless. The Community Team is staffed by people called Mike M. or Adele H. Have they ever written – much less published – a book? What qualifies them to determine if words are objectionable or spiteful? Do they have literary degrees? Have they ever written or studied serious book reviews? Who are the people that Amazon gives the right of life and death over an authors work, reputation and livelihood? And if you don’t like their decision, too bad. There’s no higher authority or number you can call.
Murderers and criminals have the right of appeal, but not authors “convicted” on Amazon. Amazon has vastly improved its customer service for buyers, but there is no customer service for content providers.
One book received 150 blistering reviews within days of publication – before the book could even ship – orchestrated by a political group intent on destroying the author’s message and credibility. Yet, it took nearly a year before the author could reach Amazon “management.” Finally, Amazon agreed to remove all reviews from the author’s page. But the damage to the writers reputation, spirit and income could not be undone.
An author friend who was similarly attacked complained to Amazon Central – only to received the canned response: “The review does not violate Amazon guidelines.” The author responded: “If this is how Amazon responds to an author’s complaint, all authors are sitting ducks for the destruction of their reputation. You should be ashamed of your response. Amazon not only allows, but encourages the trashing of authors by anonymous scum.”
Senior Google officers were recently slapped with “jail time” by an Italian court for a YouTube video that violated the privacy rights of a handicapped child – even though they had nothing to do with the uploaded video in question. How long before Amazon is slapped with a class action suit by authors for destruction of their reputation, income and works? How long before authors demand the right to opt out of the Amazon jungle review frenzy?
Amazon should seriously consider revising its policy of allowing anonymous reviews. No professional objects to criticism, especially constructive criticism, and we all understand that not everyone loves every book. But blatantly false anonymous slurs are neither “reviews” nor in keeping with good business or good literary practice.
To your author rights!