Woo-ee. Amazon is going nuts right now. You probably wouldn’t have heard anything about it if you don’t review on the site often, but they are slashing reviewers left and right. I mean, like, hundreds since last December–all people who have lost their reviewing privileges forever after allegedly “manipulating reviews.” There is a whole lot of speculation in the forums as to what that phrase means exactly, but it sounds like some reviewers may have been paid to write reviews for certain products or were encouraged by companies to only write glowing 5-star reviews. But no one really knows for sure what is going on, because Amazon has adopted a strict “No, we aren’t explaining ourselves” policy thus far.
All I know is that the whole situation has opened my eyes to the world of disclosures. Apparently, the FTC requires you to acknowledge when you are reviewing a product that you received for free. Well, most of the books I review are ARCs (i.e., Advanced Reader Copies). I get them (at no cost) through the Amazon Vine Program or NetGalley. Or, because I am a Top Reviewer on Amazon, I also sometimes get free books directly from authors, even publishers.
You can rest assured that I make ZERO money off of my reviews or this blog. I don’t use affiliate links or paid advertising or anything like that. I just really like reading books and then sharing my honest impressions of them. I do this in my spare time–simply to entertain myself (and my four faithful readers). I wasn’t aware that I needed to clearly mark in my reviews that a book was free to me, but you better believe I’m going to now.
Starting this month, I’m going to be very diligent about disclosing how I got each book. I’m slightly paranoid I will forget, since it isn’t part of my posting routine, but, shoot, I certainly don’t want to get caught up in this FTC crossfire mess. Yeesh. So if you see a message like this: “Advanced Reader Copy provided by Amazon Vine” at the top of my posts from now on (and you will!), you’ll know why it’s there.
Lesson learned: Try not to anger the Government or Big Business. They’ll smite you down with their mighty swords. (And, no, I’m still not sure how I feel about that…)