January 12, 2011
Author Admits Manipulating Amazon's Ranking/Review System | printable version
It never ceases to amaze me how excited or infuriated authors get about their Amazon ranking. Some authors think, if their book jumps a few thousand numbers lower, they've sold that many thousands of books. Others assume they've sold a copy when their ranking moves just a few digits lower. Some obsess over their ranking, checking it daily while trying to figure out how to interpret sales based on the ranking.
I've provided this link many times over the past few years but here it is again - Morris Rosenthal's excellent article on deciphering Amazon's sales rankings
Anyone who shops at Amazon knows you can review a book on Amazon just by getting an Amazon account. Amazon doesn't make you buy that book in order to review it. Some authors have been slammed by competitors and/or their enemies (even ex-friends and estranged family members), finding false negative reviews posted about their books. If you've ever tried to convince Amazon to remove what is obviously a false "book review", you know how good they are at sending out endless, unhelpful automated email responses.
One author I know was slammed in a "review" by someone who was an ex-neighbor. It's pretty clear from the review that there was no love lost between those those two and the "review" had nothing at all to do with the book. It was, instead, a character assassination. Amazon didn't remove it and the author finally gave up.
Then along comes Thomas Hertog, who, according to THIS ARTICLE, took advantage of Amazon's ranking system and anybody-can-post-pretty-much-anything customer reviews by buying 200 copies of his own book, posting 42 fake reviews, and voting 108 times on those fake reviews.
In his book description, Hertog implies Amazon may be profiting from these twisted rankings and fake reviews. I'd like to personally thank Thomas Hertog for what was obviously an expensive and time-consuming study of Amazon's grossly flawed system.
Don't trust Amazon's rankings and reviews when making your book buying decisions!