At BookLocker.com, authors frequently copy and paste their Amazon reviews (in their entirety!) into an email, asking us to republish those reviews on their book page on our site. Doing so would be a copyright violation. Other authors also contact me on occasion asking if they can republish Amazon’s reviews. Here’s what I tell all of them.
Amazon’s terms of service give Amazon NON-EXCLUSIVE, perpetual, worldwide rights, in perpetuity, etc., etc. to use a reviewer’s book and product reviews on their website. What exactly does this mean?
Non-exclusive means they do not have the exclusive rights to the review. They can use the review and so can the reviewer. The reviewer can publish their review at any other site they choose and they can also give permission to someone else (i.e. an author) to republish their review.
To throw another twist in the mix, some authors who have contacted Amazon to request permission to republish reviews have been given permission…but only to publish their reviews on their own websites.
Of course, most people know that, at large firms like Amazon, the left hand doesn’t always know what the right hand is doing. Amazon has the right to remove products, including books, from its website if they determine the owner of that product has been violating Amazon’s copyrights. So, if Employee A at Amazon says you can use the review, Employee B at Amazon (or their automated database that looks for violations) might later remove your book entirely if they find a violation…because they don’t know about your correspondence with Employee A.
One author sent us just such an email from an Amazon employee and we pointed at that he only gave her permission to use the review on her OWN website. There’s no way Amazon would allow her to list those reviews on the pages of other bookstores because that would mean customers might buy from those other stores and not from Amazon.
So, what’s an author to do if there’s a really good review at Amazon and they want to use it for their own marketing purposes? Rather than contacting Amazon, try to contact the reviewer directly. If you are able to make contact, ask them for permission to republish their review in your marketing materials. “Marketing materials” is a very broad term and can mean anything at all in a promotional sense, including promoting your book on other bookstore sites. The reviewer will very likely say yes. Make sure you have this correspondence in writing, and that you keep that correspondence, because you may need that proof later is Amazon tries to accuse you of copyright infringement.
A much easier idea, however, is to simply quote very briefly from the review. It’s then considered fair use. Just be sure to give credit to the Amazon reviewer for the quote. For example, using real Amazon reviews from my book DON’T CUT ME AGAIN! True Stories About Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC):
“This is a wonderful compilation of VBAC stories that show just how hard women often have to fight for their basic right to birth. It shows the high rate of interferences and intervention one can expect with a hospital, actively managed birth, which makes this book useful in learning how to anticipate the fights and how to avoid them (whether it be by knowing what questions to ask, how to effectively refuse…” -Lauren Cooper
COULD BE SHORTENED TO THIS:
“…a wonderful compilation of VBAC stories that show just how hard women often have to fight for their basic right to birth.” -Lauren Cooper
“This book is a good read for women seeking insight and inspiration from others who have achieved a VBAC, VBA2C, etc. The book should be read with an open mind however because, at the end of the day, childbirth experiences fall across a continuum. Most importantly, these stories are compilations of experiences from the perspective of…” -CJ Riley
COULD BE SHORTENED TO THIS:
“This book is a good read for women seeking insight and inspiration from others who have achieved a VBAC…” -CJ Riley
For more on the Fair Use doctrine of copyright law, click HERE.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
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Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE
Ask Angela About Self-Publishing
Angela Hoy is not only publisher of WritersWeekly.com, she's also co-owner of self-publishing services firm BookLocker.com and works directly with each author. That's right, you work directly with the owner of BookLocker. No revolving customer service reps, no layers of bureaucracy to navigate, and absolutely no outsourcing to low-paying overseas call centers. We don't use call centers or telemarketing at all. You will never be shuffled from one "customer service rep" to another because we don't have any of those. You will communicate directly with Angela about any needs you have at all, as well as Richard (book marketing advice), Brian (ebooks and technical issues), Ali (print formatting), Gwen (color-interior books) and Todd or Nancy (our awesome cover designers).
Since we are selective about which books we publish, we are able to work with every author one-on-one. In the past 18 years, BookLocker has published more than 9,000 titles.
Angela's been in the print-on-demand and self-publishing business for nearly two decades. She's seen it all, and is a great source of information. To ask her anything click here.