From bestselling author and former writing professor Dave Farland:
Amazon.com did a fascinating thing a few days ago: they banned authors from reviewing other authors’ books. As I understand it, author quotes and reviews were just stripped away.
This is a pretty big step here in America. Amazon.com is now the nation’s largest bookseller, and as an author, my income from book sales comes mostly from them.
So, why did they do it?
The answer of course is the authors themselves. Some authors have behaved in ways that are so dishonest, they are criminal. A few years ago, Amazon had reviewers use handles when granting reviews. Then one day, the real names of reviewers accidentally showed up on some books. One author, it turned out, had gone to more than a hundred websites, written bad reviews of a competitor’s book, and then directed them to go check out his own book, in order to find a really great read.
Lately, I’ve been hearing about authors contacting one another offering to “give a rave review in return for a rave.” I’ve even gotten a couple of those emails myself. I thought that the proposition was outrageous.
Other authors have gone so far as to “buy” rave reviews.
. . . .
So, Amazon.com’s policy has been undertaken with good intentions, but unfortunately it won’t do much to stop corrupt practices by certain authors.
You see, authors are creative people by nature. Like Br’er Fox in the old Uncle Remus tales, if they can’t get in one way, they’ll find another route. As a science fiction writer, I admit to having gone to a World Science Fiction Convention, looked around, and thought, “You know, with a small bomb I could get rid of nearly all of my competition.”
. . . .
As an author and a critic, it has long been my practice to only give reviews to books that I genuinely like. I don’t have to think that it’s the greatest book ever written (we can’t all be Shakespeare), but it does have to excite me and persuade me that others will like it, too.
I don’t give negative reviews to books. If I don’t like one, I toss it aside. I don’t have time to read books that I don’t like. I figure that in most cases, lesser books will sink into anonymity. (Though one megahit last year mystified me.)
The really sad part about this is that it puts a gag on writers. If I read a story that I think is brilliant and beautiful and worthy of praise, Amazon.com says they will not let me comment on the book.
Link to the rest at David Farland and thanks to Joshua for the tip.