On October 3rd, Amazon changed their review policy which now states that reviews are no longer allowed in exchange for a free or discounted item. It was originally thought that this wouldn’t apply to books (sending out advance review copies (ARCs) has been an industry standard for many years), but it appears that this is no longer the case.
Prior to October 3rd, Amazon guidelines stated that ARC reviewers should include a disclaimer along the lines of “I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review” as part of their review. This policy has now changed.
An email from an Amazon service representative stated this:
I’d make sure none of your reviews contain disclaimers using “I got this in exchange for that.” I would recommend your reviewers use language like, “I volunteered to review a complimentary copy of this book.”
It also appears that, not only will Amazon be removing any new reviews with the previously acceptable, indeed required, disclaimer, but they may well be removing old reviews too. Reviews that, when posted, followed Amazon guidelines to the letter.
To avoid having Amazon reviews being deleted, I suggest that you ask your reviewers to use the newly suggested phrase: “I volunteered to review a complimentary copy of this book.” Also, if you have previous ARC reviews, and you don’t want to see those disappear, it looks like you’ll have to ask your reviewers to log into their account to edit them.
At the end of the day, it’s Amazon’s sandpit, and we have to play by their rules.
Please also check out the links below, and if you have any other useful sources, please feel free to link to them in the comments. Forewarned is forearmed, and the more information we all have, the better.