Authors including Joanne Harris and Mark Billingham have spoken out against Amazon's new ban on authors leaving reviews about other people's books in the same genre, according to the Telegraph.
The new policy means, for example, that romance writers are not able to comment on works by other romance authors, with authors reporting that tens of their previous comments have been deleted without notice. It is believed the new policy was instigated as a result of the "sock puppeting" storm, where editors and authors, including R J Ellory, were exposed for writing fake online reviews.
Chocolat-author Joanne Harris has called for the entire review system to be overhauled, and particularly for the star system to be abandoned. In the Telegraph piece, she said: "One thing authors are able to do is articulate about books. They tend to read about books and their opinions...are listened to. To be honest I would just rather Amazon delete all their reviews as it...has caused so much trouble. It is a pity. Originally it was a good idea but it is has become such an issue now. The star rating has become how people view a book's is a success and it has become inherently corrupt."
Crime author Billingham said: "If they are targeting authors for no valid reason then that is a shame. The whole online review system is deeply flawed to me and has been for years. They need to tackle anonymous reviews as they cause all the trouble. They could easily ban those and all of this would go away."
Nick Yapp, the chairman of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain's Books Committee, said authors were angry at the move, and that Amazon should either "reject all reviews or accept all reviews". However, an Amazon spokesman directed inquiries to its recently updated FAQ section, which states: "We recently improved our detection of promotional reviews which resulted in the removal of reviews, both new and old. While our enforcement has improved, our guidelines have not changed." The company said it welcomes authors' perspectives in reviews, except when it was "perceived" they had a close personal relationship" with rivals.