Amazon won’t let users review James Comey’s new book if they didn’t purchase it through the site

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Amazon is restricting users from posting reviews of former FBI director James Comey’s new book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, unless the reviewer has purchased the book through the retailer.

Deadline noticed the issue, noting that the restriction is in place for the print and Kindle editions, and some low-rated reviews might have also been removed as well. A review on audiobook platform Audible, which is owned by Amazon, complains that the user’s prior review had also been removed. We’ve reached out to Amazon and Audible for comment and will update this post if we hear back. Barnes and Noble doesn’t appear to have any such restrictions in place, and its reviews include a number of anonymous one- and five-starred reviews.

This isn’t the first time that Amazon has restricted reviews for high-profile books: the company deleted a number of one-star reviews of Hillary Clinton’s book What Happened and Michael Wolfe’s book Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House following their publications under the suspicion that they were published by opponents. Amazon’s Community Guidelines state that it will restrict non-Amazon Verified Purchase reviews for products when the company detects “unusually high numbers of reviews for a product posted in a short period of time.”

That policy makes sense, given that high-profile books for controversial figures can become the target of opponents or supporters who wish to affect the book’s overall rating. Rating gaming is a thing that happens from time to time. Earlier this year, a Facebook group called “Down With Disney’s Treatment of Franchises and its Fanboys” claimed that it was behind low ratings for Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Rotten Tomatoes and planned to conduct a similar review-bombing campaign before it was shut down by Facebook. In 2015, Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars novel Aftermath was similarly the target of negative reviews on Amazon.

Amazon’s vast storefront means that it would be difficult to examine each and every review that comes in to ensure that it’s complying with its Community Guidelines. Accordingly, there are some basic restrictions to tamp down abuse: the site prohibits users from contributing false or misleading reviews, while publishers and authors aren’t allowed to buy reviews to game the system. Indeed, Amazon’s “Verified Buyer” identification is a useful check on attempts to game the system. It allows the company to filter out reviews for high-profile books in some cases, while also restricting users from posting more than five non-verified purchases a week. But that restriction can be annoying for someone who’s purchased the book from a non-Amazon source and wants to contribute to the larger body of reviews on Amazon. In all likelihood, they’ll just have to wait for the fervor to die down before they can post their thoughts.


This is how it should be. Just like how people reply to a question, "idk"

Yeah, I don’t see a problem. I’ve reviewed stuff i bought elsewhere on Amazon, but would be fine if i couldn’t

That’s fraud

No it’s not. Firstly, Amazon allows it, so it’s not fraud. If they didn’t want people to do this, ever, they could easily restrict reviews to people who have actually purchased the item from Amazon, just as they do for certain high profile books. Secondly, Amazon marks reviews that are made by people who did purchase the item on Amazon with "Verified Purchase" and those reviews are at the top of the reviews, whereas reviews made by people who haven’t purchased the item from Amazon tend to sink to the bottom. Therefore neither Amazon or its customers are being defrauded.

Why do they allow it in the first place? What purpose does it serve, trolls can mess with the rating in either direction.

Because that’s an uncommon edge case that isn’t worth sacrificing freedom over.

lol "freedom". You sound ridiculous. No posting a review on a private site doesn’t restrict your freedom. You’re still free to start your own website and host it yourself and post whatever nonsense you feel like yelling.

Freedom as a concept isn’t sacrificed, but A small freedom is. For Amazon this user freedom means more user-generated content and more profit. For the average reader it’s a way to express itself with some chance of being read by other potential readers. That’s not ridiculous.

Restricting this freedom if necessary (because of fraud/trolls) is understandable and not a major issue tough.

You lol but when a monopoly exerts their power, you are precisely limitating people’s freedoms of all kinds (consumer, expression, religious, etc.). Not all freedoms are derived and guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. There are many other implied and unspoken freedoms maintained by capitalism and democracy.

Freedom? Are you kidding me?

Because having reviews on the amazon website is beneficial for them. It attracts people to their site because the want to read the reviews, and then might buy the product, or a similar product from amazon.

If they restricted the reviews to only verified purchasers then there would be a whole lot of products with only few reviews or no reviews, which would result in lower sales.

I doubt your assessment would hold true because so many people are on Amazon and there would be more than enough potential reviewers on the site to make up the difference.

For every few hundred verified purchases, only one review is written. If you look at the amount of verified purchases for any given product you will see this ratio and clearly understand that there would only be a handful of reviews for any given product if Amazon didn’t open up the system to non Amazon customers. Amazon is big but not big enough to host a verified purchase only review system for the world or even the U.S.

Amazon should have rewards for verified purchasers. $1 added to their Amazon account, or a digital reward like you get for choosing "no rush" shipping.

"I doubt your assessment" followed by personal opinions is disingenuous engagement at best.

How is that disingenuous? He starts with an opinion (doubting the assessment) and replies with an opinion of his own. That’s the basis for all non-factually based argument.

lol, it’s like he’s never heard of an "opinion" before.

Nope. There are tons of products on Amazon with zero reviews. Just look. I have reviewed items I own that had no reviews, and I review them either because they were great items or they were lousy items, and in either case I wanted to let prospective purchasers know.

I think amc178 hit the nail on the head with his comment.

There are plenty of products that would only have very few, or no reviews if you only allowed the verified purchases, especially the items that are not particularly common. Non-verified reviews frequently outnumber verified reviews by a significant number (These headphones for example have only 2 verified reviews, but 31 other reviews).

You also have to remember that most people who buy something do not review it, so you won’t necessarily get a high number of verified reviews even on a relatively popular product.

People like reading fake reviews? How about if amazon incentivize reviews, like the product? Leave a review and get $2 off your next purchase.

That is a form of bribery and only leads to more fake reviews by bots and customers who don’t even use the product. Their current policy specifically forbids monetary or gift incentives for reviews. However, I have received a few incentives in the past and they do work.

It only leads to more reviews, not necessarily more fake reviews.
I have left a review for a company that said they will send me something in exchange for a review, and I gave them an honest review.
FYI, these reviews did not have to be on Amazon, so I left one on an enthusiast site I belong to, I left a video review on Youtube and I left a review on Amazon, and I got a small gift for that (a $25 box of Chinese blue-switches for a mechanical keyboard).
I see nothing wrong with paying for reviews, as long as they don’t pay for good reviews.

Doesn’t matter if they use the product. If they bought it, they are entitled to a review. They are not fake reviews if they’ve bought the product. You’re going directly to the worst case scenario. I would rather read incentivised reviews from verified purchasers.

They already have the Amazon Vine (Or something like that) where people can join and get free stuff in exchange for reviews.
Just look at a bunch of reviews and find the ones that say Vine or Vine-something at the top. Those people received free stuff.

Amazon sent me an email requesting that I join, but because I live in one of the few places where that is illegal, I couldn’t join.

I think that’s a great feature of Amazon. If there is a product I notice, and I own it and it has no reviews on Amazon, I would take a few minutes and put a review up telling people how much I do or don’t like it.

Many other people also do this, and I find it usually very helpful. Besides, you can usually tell good reviewers from bad just by reading their reviews.

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