Amazon has a dirty little secret: The website may be deleting your book reviews. News broke Saturday that family member reviewers or reviews of writers by other writers are all getting bumped from the website, among reviews written under other circumstances. It’s a crackdown meant to take action against those writing false or misleading reviews, but it has spawned a debate concerning whether or not the website’s actions are appropriate.

Currently, there are no figures on how many reviews Amazon has deleted from its site. The NY Times suggests the numbers are likely in the thousands, and even spoke with several authors who have seen reviews deleted due to reviewers’ close proximity to an author, although some random reviews have been deleted, as well. One writer, Michelle Gagnon, says she wasn’t alarmed until Amazon deleted a review from a fan of her body of work.
““How does Amazon know we know each other? That’s where I started to get creeped out.”

Some authors seem to think the review purge is just what the site needs to help audiences reach better books. Other authors feel they earned the reviews fair and square. At the end of the day, Amazon is a private organization, and the company can make decisions based on whether or not they feel reviews fit the business model. Additionally, if you are using Amazon reviews to determine whether or not a book is worthy of reading, you are probably a casual reader willing to pick up anything with a positive score. Everyone else should try using Novelist or Fiction Connection or, hell, even Library Thing, sometime. They are not difficult to find--especially if you have a library card.

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