Mighty amazon

Posted: July 7, 2010 in Everything else

I have been lucky with book reviews – until recently. A amazon customer review twice accuses me of being dishonest in not calling my Visual Dictionary of Photography – the Visual Dictionary of Film Photography. In the customer/reviewer’s none too humble opinion a dictionary should only cover digital workflow. I was sufficiently annoyed to go back two years and check the editorial balance – there are 256 entries in the dictionary, 145 relevant to film or digital (optics hasn’t changed just because we’ve put a digital sensor in the camera body); there are 41 entries dedicated to film, 37 to digital and 33 to historic/heritage subjects. Now I would fight to the death for this reviewer’s right to show his ignorance in print – however I do object to being called ‘dishonest’. Being a writer I have the benefit of a dictionary: Dishonest – to behave in an untrustworthy or fraudulent way, to intend to cheat or mislead. I would reckon that was defamatory. So, I complained to amazon. This is what they said:

“I understand your concerns, but the review does not fall outside of our posted guidelines. Here’s a link to our guidelines for reference:”


The guidelines are fascinating – other authors should read them. They protect amazon from charges of obscenity or profanity (fear of the American moral right?) but offer no right of reply for an author or even real guidelines to customer/reviewers about the difference between an opinion about a work and libeling its author. As I was not happy I clicked the ‘If no, click here.’ link. This did not give me the opportunity to reply to ‘Jon of amazon customer service’ but dumped my back to a general comment page on amazon.com to start all over again. Great.

I’m left with the question why have I bothered to create an author page and content to promotes sales through amazon who has more regard for its supposed customer’s rights than for mine. I could always change the copy on my author page to read one hundred times ‘Don’t support amazon.com – support your local bookstore’ but even I know that convenience outweighs conscience.


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