Thursday, July 29, 2004

Amazon clamp down on anonymous reviews

Back in February, I commented on an interesting story in The Observer on Amazon's anonymous reviews (Authors reviewing their own books on Amazon). Amazon have now, at last, acted on this and only allow real names with credit card numbers. This is from today's Guardian:

Amazon halts tit-for-tat critics
Authors and publishers face credit card barrier to anonymously puffing their books
Andrew Clark in New York
The change, which was quietly introduced earlier this month, is intended to put an end to authors and publishers anonymously showering their own books with praise while trashing the work of their rivals. An Amazon spokeswoman said: "This is the latest step in an ongoing effort to continually improve the content of the site." . . . .

. . . Reviews on Amazon's site are of variable quality and many are tongue in cheek. A review of the King James Bible from one reader in Indianapolis describes the tome as "a rollicking, non-stop, action-adventure which ends with a thrilling conclusion and a hearty 'Amen'". Meanwhile, Bill Clinton's recently published memoirs receives a rough ride from a New York customer, who advises buyers: "Give your money to charity instead of enriching this pants-on-fire liar."
I suppose we are a bit more lucky in the slightly more rarefied atmosphere generated by academic books on the Bible. But even here, there are some quite funny reviews, whether you agree with them or not. This, for example, is an excerpt from an amazon review on Crossan's Birth of Christianity from a certain "phranger":
When I got the book I was struck by how physically light it is for its size. The paper is made from pulp somewhat cleaner than newsprint, which is blown up during drying to perhaps twice the thickness good newsprint would have, using the same amount of pulp. The enclosed air makes it more opaque. This is a fine figure for Crossan's writing.

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