Wednesday, August 03, 2011

A new review disease

I have noted as late a strange disease that has hit Amazon, and probably other sites too.

It used to be blogspam, or I suppose reviewspam that caused minor irritation; spambots being quite good nowadays and lots of customers objecting to posts that are obviously not reviewing, but advertising, that was the favoured method of getting someone's attention.  It is very unethical, and very naughty.

Nah, there's a new one.  It's as old as Mark Antony and peering at the Amazon site late at night on my Kindle, as often as I do, I'm on to them.  What puzzles me is why they do it.  It is praising an item so effusively that you think "this sounds good" and download it.  But the book is, at best, mediocre.  In some instances, the book is just downright dire.  The truth comes out later with moaning reviews on how they downloaded it on the basis of the previous 5 star reviews and have been left with something taking up another little portion of their Kindle.

I've only seen them on free (for the time being) downloads, but I'm thinking the virus has spread to the paying books too.  My theory is that these guys are Amazon Associates (so am I, but it was a very half-hearted attempt to get thatangellook to pay its way, I have never tried, and don't want to try, aggressive marketing) - eventually these books will be on the paid list, for a price from around £4.99.

The trouble is, the Associates are making themselves look stupid by bumping a complete turkey up the Bestsellers list.  This in turn, causes, one, genuinely good items to sink and be ignored (there are honestly some gems in the free books list), and two, Kindle owners to become disheartened with everything they imagined the Kindle to be.  Most of it is true, they just haven't found the diamonds in the rough.  It also gives the Associates a bad name, just another set of blagging salesmen.

Free books are the window for new authors.  I have bought books from authors on the strength of the freebie.  The shenanigans of these so-called "reviewers" can only cause damage to the market, only minor, but every little bit helps.

I can spot them a mile off now, it's the style of the reviews that are so similar, a hundred different user names but probably only a couple of dozen actual people.  But they are trying to get money under false pretences.  (I have seen one or two that claim to be authors themselves.  Really.  I'll show you some swampland in Florida that is prime for holiday lets.)

How do they sleep nights?  If you do it, please stop.