Thursday, February 20, 2020

Taste and See, Volume I - Has been Removed from Amazon to Preserve Integrity of Book's Rating for Readers Across the Web


Taste and See - Volume I, is a compilation of books and other reading materials from over thirty authors in the John 3:16 Marketing Network. Published several years ago, hundreds of ebooks have been downloaded from Amazon for free. Since 2011, sixteen ratings had been posted although only nine reviews appeared on the Amazon book page. 

Of all the reviews posted, they were five-star reviews except for one. I will post a jpeg here of that one 1-star review so the reader here can see what the reviewer wrote.

Until about a month ago, the overall rating for Taste and See, Volume I, was listed as 4.7 or 4.8, I can't remember exactly, but if you add up all the reviews and do simple math, the overall rating by Amazon comported with what statistically would be expected.

However, a month ago, Amazon lowered the overall rating to 3.5. No recent reviews had been posted that would have altered the overall review rating in either direction. I couldn't understand how a book could be rated 3.5 with eight 5-star reviews and one 1-star review, so I contacted Amazon to find out why. They never responded.



When I went back and read the 1-star review, I noticed the person who rated it never read the book. Here is the review the reviewer posted.



Because Amazon was unwilling to restore the appropriate rating for Taste and See, Volume I, as it had been rated for the last several years, and since the reviewer rated the book as one-star although she never read the book, I contacted Amazon to remove the 1-star rating.


Here is Amazon's response:

I've read the review titled "Felt put upon" for the book titled "Volume 1, Taste and See, A Sampling of First Chapters by John 316 Marketing Network Authors." I understand your concerns, but the review doesn't violate our posted guidelines, so I'm unable to remove it in its current format.

We try to encourage our customers to give their honest opinions on our products while staying within our guidelines. As a retailer, we are interested in cultivating a diversity of opinion on our products. Part of that is allowing our customers to air their honest thoughts on items they have received. Here's a link to our guidelines for reference: 

My reply:  So a person can post a review on a book they have not read? If that’s the case, then I will just encourage people to post a five-star review to get the ratings back up to where they should be. The only reason I care is because your algorithm is rating this book as a 3.5 and there are eight [5] stars that should be pulling it up to a 4.75. 

That means someone who has not even read the book is able to reduce the overall rating of the book from 4.75 to 3.5. It seems to me like Amazon’s algorithms are censoring what books they want to do well and what books they don’t want to do well. This is against a higher law of ethics, and I will be looking into what I can do about this, including contacting the Federal Trade  Commission.


*~*~*~*

Their final reply back was the following:

We’ve investigated the review "Felt put upon" for the book titled "Volume 1, Taste and See, A Sampling of First Chapters by John 316 Marketing Network Authors." and looked into your previous correspondence of "February 18, 2020" with my colleague. We’ve determined that this review is within our Community Guidelines (available here http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines) and will not consider the removal any further.

H



 e
Here is a sampling of the eight 5-star reviews that Amazon seemed to disregard in their overall rating of Taste and See, Volume I.



We appreciate your understa

nding. We hope to see you again soon.

As shown from this selection of random five-star reviews, what Amazon has done is unethical. They have allowed one 1-star review to be posted by a reader about a book she had not read and then allowed that one review to lower the overall rating of the book to 3.5. Against eight 5-star reviews, statistically, that is impossible. There are no other reviews on this book. They are all five stars with one 1-star.

Because all the first chapters from thirty books highlighted in Taste and See Volume I, as well as other materials, including poems, devotionals, et cetera, are written by Christian authors, I truly believe Amazon is now censoring Christian authors/books. 

Once the overall rating was artificially lowered to 3.5, not a single book was downloaded. Would you want to download a 3.5-rated book when there are so many books rated four stars and above?  

I will be posting at least one more blog post on my experiences this last year with Amazon and all the reviews they have removed from various books of mine. And that's not all they have done to me.

I have a couple of marketing experiments going on as I write this to test my hypothesis and pull together a compelling case to present to the Federal Trade Commission - if Amazon blocks my marketing efforts as I anticipate they will.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have anything to add to my thoughts.

Taste and See, Volume I, continues to be available across the web on multiple websites, including Apple, Barnes & Noble, Pay Hip, and more.  You can visit http://bit.ly/LRTASTEANDSEE to see a partial listing of websites. I will continue to add more as time permits.

13 comments:

  1. Disappointing and distasteful. I'd be interested in seeing if another of us uploaded the book what would happen.

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  2. This is worse than sad! It is shameful.
    I've also had problems in trying to leave a 5* review for a Christian book on Amazon - Amazon simply refused to let me post it saying it didn't comply with their guidelines, but no indication as to what the noncompliance was.

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  3. I totally agree with Author Lorilyn Roberts saying, "They have allowed one 1-star review to be posted by a reader about a book she had not read and then allowed that one review to lower the overall rating of the book to 3.5. Against eight 5-star reviews, statistically, that is impossible." Even a child can easily understand the faulty calculation like this. Such blind judgment will hamper Amazon's high-speed growth than God fearing authors like Lorilyn Roberts!

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  4. Thanks, John, for that reminder. If Amazon is indeed setting out to discredit Christian books with artificially lowering their star ratings, there will be a price to be paid.

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  5. Amazon should be changing it's policy to not allow readers to post comments when they admit they haven't even read the book!! It's outlandish.
    Thanks for bringing this issue to light Lorilynn.

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  6. This is definitely very concerning. I am not as concerned about the fact that the writer of the review was allowed to post without reading the entire book. If she was disappointed after downloading it, then so be it. She apparently felt strongly enough to express her views. However, what does concern me greatly is the Math! Ratings should be based on actual calculations. I noted in this post that there were 16 ratings, but only 9 reviews. Does their algorithm take these into account as well or not, and if so, how much are simple 'star ratings' given as compared to actual reviews? Perhaps these are further questions for investigation. Thanks for taking the time to look into this matter, Lorilyn.

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  7. Yes, Tracy, I agree. I have yet to figure out how someone can rate a book without reviewing it. I can't. I have to write a review. So where are those ratings coming from? And what are the chances there would be eight 5-star reviews, one 1-star review and seven 1-star ratings without a review. And how do you know those are real people posting those reviews if you don't know where those reviews are coming from? All of this is very concerning because there is no way to validate what Amazon is doing. When you stop and think about it, that book was promoting thirty Christian authors. Maybe there is somebody that hates Christian books that took it upon themselves to mess with the rating. There is no way to know. That's why I removed the book from Amazon!

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  8. This is unbelievable! The devil will stop at nothing. Our fight is really not with Amazon; it is with principalities and powers who oppose Christian influence in our society. That is why the weapons of our warfare cannot be carnal; we need spiritual weapons--prayer and godliness in all situations!

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  9. HERE IS A COMMENT MARTIN ROTH EMAILED ME.

    Hi Lorilyn,

    I have tried half-a-dozen times to place a comment on your blog, below your post "Taste and See, Volume I - Has been Removed from Amazon to Preserve Integrity of Book's Rating for Readers Across the Web”.

    Each time I click on either Preview or Publish my comment disappears.

    After this happened once I rewrote and saved the comment, so have pasted it below. I’ve no idea why your blog doesn’t like me.

    I have a dozen Christian titles on Amazon. However, they no longer sell much, and I have given up my self-publishing efforts. However, I occasionally check my Amazon reviews, and sometimes find one or two new ones. But last time I checked, in December, I found two reviews had been removed. I have no idea why.

    It is not just Christian writers who can have issues with Amazon. Each year I write a book "Top Stocks" for the Australian market. Despite the title, it is a book about the best companies in Australia. Each company is selected by a rigorous and objective method. A couple of years ago an anonymous reviewer posted a review essentially saying that I was being paid by companies to include them in the book. I wrote to Amazon to complain about this review, and got what seems to be the standard reply, that Amazon encourages honest opinions, a diversity of opinions, etc, etc. I wrote back to say that this was not opinion, this was a reviewer accusing me of taking bribes. I enclosed a copy of the page from the book that details my completely objective methodology for selecting companies. Amazon never replied, and I decided life is too short to pursue the matter further.



    Best wishes,
    Martin

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