Online books giant failing to publish readers’ feedback

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From: Ian Dewar, Middleton on the Wolds, Driffield.

as your readers will be aware, the number of independent bookshops in the UK has dwindled sharply owing to mainstream and independent publishers accessing the mass markets through internet companies like Barnes & Noble, Lulu and Amazon.

Even well-known high street names like Waterstones and WH Smith provide internet ordering for both hard format and electronic (eBook) reading.

Authors, whether they be signed to a major publishing house, or self-published through one of the many online resources, naturally enjoy these wider markets their works are exposed to; but that does not mean to say there are not serious concerns with one company in particular. Published reviews, good, bad or somewhere in between, not only affect sales of books but provide the author(s) with insight as to how he or she may improve their theming and/or wordsmithing for future manuscripts.

Amazon, however, have not allowed many of their customers’ feedback to appear alongside the book in question and, as I have discovered in recent times, there is growing disquiet about this practice in the literary community.

Amazon state they believe that there have been cases where published authors encourage feedback from friends and relatives in order to boost sales; but now also admit that this “safeguard” is causing problems for those who leave bona fide feedback too.

I have been in contact with Amazon about just such an instance. Having purchased a new book of poems entitled The Disintegrating Man I received an email request from Amazon, inviting me to leave comment on my recent purchase. This I complied with using Amazon’s own, online form and was advised my valued feedback would appear soonest – it did not! Querying the reason from Amazon resulted in a mix of excuses culminating in some assurance from “Robin” on their”‘Social Media Team” (Facebook) that recurring technical issues had prevented my review being recorded.

I have since spoken to a number of authors and more importantly, a member of Amazon’s “technical staff” and am given to understand this response is given in the hope the complainant will soon forget the matter. Not so Amazon! Like millions of readers and yes, many authors too, I believe you have a duty to record the opinions of your customers, especially as you request from them that feedback in the first place.