After several well-publicized cases involving writers buying or manipulating their reviews, Amazon is cracking down. Writers say thousands of reviews have been deleted from the shopping site in recent months.
Amazon has not said how many reviews it has killed, nor has it offered any public explanation. So its sweeping but hazy purge has generated an uproar about what it means to review in an era when everyone is an author and everyone is a reviewer.
A fiery Jeanette Winterson has called for the hundreds of millions of pounds of profit which Amazon, Starbucks and Google were last week accused of diverting from the UK to be used to save Britain's beleaguered public libraries.
In an impassioned speech at the British Library this evening, the award-winning author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit said: "Libraries cost about a billion a year to run right now. Make it two billion and charge Google, Amazon and Starbucks all that back tax on their profits here. Or if they want to go on paying fancy lawyers to legally avoid their moral duties, then perhaps those companies could do an Andrew Carnegie and build us new kinds of libraries for a new kind of future in a fairer and better world?"
Winterson was referring to the meeting at parliament's public accounts committee last Monday which saw executives from the three companies vigorously quizzed by MPs over their tax affairs, and accused of diverting UK profits to tax havens. Her lecture was to mark the 10th anniversary of the independent charity The Reading Agency, and was attended by fellow authors including David Nicholls, Julian Barnes, Joanna Trollope and Sarah Waters.
Earlier this year the two companies signed a licensing agreement whereby Amazon Publishing acquires, edits, markets and publicizes books that are then distributed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s sales force, according to Alexandra Woodworth, a publicist for Amazon/New Harvest. The partnership was an effort to woo bookstores into stocking Amazon-published books. But many booksellers are balking.
“Amazon has not been a very cooperative fellow bookseller in any fashion,” LaFramboise said. “They pretty much want nothing more than our demise.”
From NBC Technology:
"Two weeks ago my Kindle started showing stripes on the screen and I contacted Amazon support," Linn Jordet Nygaard told NBC News. "Someone immediately found the Kindle in the system and told me they would replace it free of charge. They could only ship the replacement to UK because it was originally purchased there, and I told them I would find an address the next day. (I live in Norway, but have a friend who lives in London.)"
Nygaard was pleased with Amazon's prompt service, she told us, even though this was her second Kindle to fall victim to "stripes" on the ePaper screen.
But when Nygaard attempted to log into her Amazon account the next day, her account was suspended — and with it access to her library of 43 books. More from NBC Technology.
Further to our previous story on a Kindle reader's library being wiped by Amazon, Stephen K. has posted an update (as comment), which deserves to be its own story.
From Computer World UK Simon Phipps continues the saga of Linn, the Norwegian individual who purchased a Kindle in the UK.
The story first emerged on a friend's blog, where a sequence of e-mails from Michael Murphy, a customer support representative at Amazon.co.uk were posted. These painted a picture some interpreted as Amazon remotely erasing a customer's Kindle, but in conversation with Linn I discovered that was not what had happened - something just as bad did, though.
Linn lives in Norway, where Amazon does not operate (Amazon.no redirects to the Amazon Europe page). She bought a Kindle in the UK, liked it and read a number of books on it. She then gave that Kindle to her mother, and bought a used Kindle on a Danish classifieds site to which she transferred her account. She has been happily reading on it for some time, purchasing her books with a Norwegian address and credit card. She told me she'd read 30 or 40 books on it.
Sadly, the device developed a fault (actually a second time, it was also replaced in 2011 for the same reason) and started to display black lines on the screen (something I've heard from other friends as it happens). She called Amazon customer service, and they agreed to replace it if she returned it, although they insisted on shipping the replacement to a UK address rather to her in Norway.
More from Computer World UK.
Cory Doctorow, Canadian journalist, blogger, sci-fi author in addition to being a former bookseller reports at Boing Boing on Amazon's deletion of one customers library.
According to Martin Bekkelund, a Norwegian Amazon customer identified only as Linn had her Kindle access revoked without warning or explanation. Her account was closed, and her Kindle was remotely wiped. Bekkelund has posted a string of emails that he says were sent to Linn by the company. They are a sort of Kafkaesque dumbshow of bureaucratic non-answering, culminating in the customer service version of "Die in a fire," to whit, "We wish you luck in locating a retailer better able to meet your needs and will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters," a comment signed by "Michael Murphy, Executive Customer Relations, Amazon.co.uk."
As previously advised, your Amazon.co.uk account has been closed, as it has come to our attention that this account is related to a previously blocked account. While we are unable to provide detailed information on how we link related accounts, please know that we have reviewed your account on the basis of the information provided and regret to inform you that it will not be reopened. Please understand that the closure of an account is a permanent action. Any subsequent accounts that are opened will be closed as well. Thank you for your understanding with our decision.
I appreciate this is not the outcome you hoped for and apologise for any disappointment this may cause. -- Read More
What is the point of the best-seller list? Depends who you are. If you're a reader, it's a guide to what's popular — what's new, what your neighbors are buying, and what you might like to read next. If you're a publisher, it's a source of feedback and a sales tool: It tells you how your books compete, and gives you triumphs to crow about on paperback covers.
If you're an author, however, the best-seller list can feel awfully personal. It tells you how much the world values your work. It may be a sign of your economic future — say, whether you're going to be able to buy an apartment. It speaks to your professional future as well: whether your career is working out, and whether you're going to be able to sell your next book. And, unlike the private sales data reported to publishers or tracked by Nielsen through their BookScan service, the best-seller list lives in public. Your mom will see it; so will your high school nemesis. If your book makes the list, you can forever after be accurately described as a "best-selling author."
Amazon has been sending out this email as a result of legal settlements between several major e-book publishers and the Attorneys General of most U.S. states.
Dear Kindle Customer,
We have good news. You are entitled to a credit for some of your past e-book purchases as a result of legal settlements between several major e-book publishers and the Attorneys General of most U.S. states and territories, including yours. You do not need to do anything to receive this credit. We will contact you when the credit is applied to your Amazon.com account if the Court approves the settlements in February 2013.
Hachette, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster have settled an antitrust lawsuit about e-book prices. Under the proposed settlements, the publishers will provide funds for a credit that will be applied directly to your Amazon.com account. If the Court approves the settlements, the account credit will appear automatically and can be used to purchase Kindle books or print books. While we will not know the amount of your credit until the Court approves the settlements, the Attorneys General estimate that it will range from $0.30 to $1.32 for every eligible Kindle book that you purchased between April 2010 and May 2012. Alternatively, you may request a check in the amount of your credit by following the instructions included in the formal notice of the settlements, set forth below. You can learn more about the settlements here:
In addition to the account credit, the settlements impose limitations on the publishers’ ability to set e-book prices. We think these settlements are a big win for customers and look forward to lowering prices on more Kindle books in the future.
Thank you for being a Kindle customer.
The Amazon Kindle Team