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9,141 Views 13 Replies Last post: Mar 14, 2015 4:33 PM by SoundtrackEar RSS
Level 0 3 posts since
Feb 29, 2012
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Jan 13, 2015 2:27 PM

Is it legal and/or a good idea to use amazon online reviews in marketing?

In September, I published my first book using createspace ("Touching the Face of God: The Story of John Gillespie Magee, Jr. and his poem High Flight").

 

I have waited until I got some online reviews before going "wide" with marketing efforts, selling books locally. I now have five very nice 5-star reviews on amazon (okay, frankly I know four of the people, but the 5th one was totally unknown to me, and his review blew my socks off!).

 

What I am curious about is: can I use these reviews in marketing materials? And is it a good idea? I think it will be some time before I am able to garner larger audience reviews, so I'm doing it myself for the moment.

 

And so far, for me... the amazon createspace experience has been mostly excellent. There was one problem with my book listing, but they (createspace & amazon) got it squared away pretty quickly. Sales have not been bad, but I anticipate they will rise in the near future.

 

Thank you for any input you can offer!

 

Regards,

 

Ray Haas

Level 5 12,993 posts since
Aug 22, 2008
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1. Jan 13, 2015 3:33 PM in response to: RayH
Re: Is it legal and/or a good idea to use amazon online reviews in marketing?

I can't think of a reason not to use a positive review whenever possible.

 

A customer's product review on Amazon belongs to the customer who posted it (that person having granted Amazon a very broad and non-exclusive right to use it on Amazon's websites). So you technically need the reviewer's permission to use his/her review, so that's who I would contact. (A person who is willing to post a favorable public review on Amazon will generally be willing to let you use it -- if you provide a description of where/how it will be used and ask courteously.)

 

Attorneys have advised against using any customer review without the  customer's permission, and there is anecdotal evidence of a least a couple of cases where a customer complained to Amazon about a signed (not anonymous) review appearing  on a competing seller's website, and Amazon removed the book from sale.

 

If the review is anonymous, you obviously can't contact the writer, but then the value of the review probably decreases anyway. Even so, if you wanted to use an anonymous review, there is one attorney who has advised that using excerpted phrases (rather than the complete review) might be considered "fair use" and would make it difficult for the original writer/customer to complain about.

Level 1 119 posts since
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2. Jan 14, 2015 4:39 AM in response to: Lighthouse24
Re: Is it legal and/or a good idea to use amazon online reviews in marketing?

But it is surely legitimate to link to the reviews, isn't it?

Level 5 12,993 posts since
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3. Jan 14, 2015 7:50 AM in response to: Codex_Regius
Re: Is it legal and/or a good idea to use amazon online reviews in marketing?

I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't be.

Level 5 12,993 posts since
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4. Jan 15, 2015 10:01 AM in response to: Lighthouse24
Re: Is it legal and/or a good idea to use amazon online reviews in marketing?

Okay, there may be one reason within one context...

 

I have several clients with multiple books that all have marketing blurbs in the back matter (advertising other books by the author). Two of these authors had us include hyperlinks to the Amazon reviews within the Kindle and ePub versions of those books, and they submitted the ePub versions to Smashwords. Although all of these were accepted originally for the Smashwords premium catalog, Smashwords recently advised the authors that those books have been removed -- and that for those books to be made available for sale again, new files must be submitted that do not include any links or references to Amazon whatsoever.

 

Other ebook retailers or aggregators could have the same issue or impose similar limitations.

Level 1 124 posts since
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5. Jan 30, 2015 4:39 PM in response to: Lighthouse24
Re: Is it legal and/or a good idea to use amazon online reviews in marketing?

Thank you for your answer to the question of using Amazon customer reviews in marketing. Getting permission of the reviewer is certainly best! If the reviewer is a stranger but a fellow author or expert in a field related to your book, you may be able to contact the reviewer at his or her website.

 

I've had a delightful experience after publishing my memoir of an American family living in Libya during my childhood. I reviewed a book by an American who had served as a U.S. diplomat in Libya more recently, and then I contacted the author through his website. He bought a copy of my book and not only Tweeted it but wrote a wonderful customer review at Amazon. Of course I would like to quote from the review in marketing, and I expect his permission will be forthcoming because naming him as the author of his two books about Libya is a plug for his books too.

Level 0 62 posts since
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6. Feb 26, 2015 5:53 AM in response to: Lighthouse24
Re: Is it legal and/or a good idea to use amazon online reviews in marketing?

I think Amazon will allow within Amazo's site, It's good  to contact the reviewer too.

Level 4 2,608 posts since
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7. Feb 26, 2015 12:17 PM in response to: RayH
Re: Is it legal and/or a good idea to use amazon online reviews in marketing?

If someone has given you a review, it is your review, regardless of where it might appear. That said, some reviewers ask for specific attribution. Kirkus Reviews immediately comes to mind. They demand a specific format for their attribution. But you can use it anywhere. It is your review. The problem is when you start selling on competitors' sites. Barnes and Noble does not like visible Amazon reviews. Amazon does not like Smashword reviews. They can ask you not to use them. However, if the reviews are on the back cover of a paperback or hardbound book, attributed to reviewers (but not to specific printers), I do not believe any media source would complain, legally or otherwise. Like you, they want to sell the book in any legitimate way possible. Also, you can use the reviews on your blog or website, with proper attribution and without changing anything the reviewer said. It is YOUR review. I am not a lawyer. But that is my take on it.

 

Temple

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NRX4WRE

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8. Mar 10, 2015 8:34 PM in response to: RayH
Re: Is it legal and/or a good idea to use amazon online reviews in marketing?

I really think it depends on context. For example, I don't think it hurts to use regular reader reviews on your website or in an email, but it would look amateurish to use normal reader reviews on your book jacket, or in the Editorial Reviews section of your Amazon page.

 

Frankly, I think it's just about impossible to sell a lot of books without some halfway credible independent review at the top. It may or may not be worth it to pay $400-500 for a Kirkus review, but it's surely well worth it to pay one or two of the more affordable options like Portland Book Review ($99) or for thriller & mystery writers, BestThrillers.com ($99). In terms of basic marketing costs, those are a bargain. You'd spend at least $100 in postage sending books to newspaper reviewers - and your chances of actually landing a review in those places is nearly zero.

Level 1 124 posts since
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9. Mar 13, 2015 12:28 PM in response to: thriller
Re: Is it legal and/or a good idea to use amazon online reviews in marketing?

Hi, Thriller! If an Amazon customer review is written by the author of two books in the same genre or on the same subject (e.g. U.S.-Libya relations) as yours, and if you have the author's permission to quote the review, would it seem amateurish to quote from that review on your book jacket? I understand the problem with quoting customer reviews that don't identify the reviewers as authorities on the book's subject, but traditionally published book jackets often include quotes from other book authors' reviews. While those reviews are traditionally sought before publication, POD publishing makes it easy to change a book cover, and my book--a historical memoir--is best reviewed by authorities on issues in the story rather than general book reviewers that require fees.

Level 0 31 posts since
Jan 17, 2014
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10. Mar 14, 2015 7:44 AM in response to: RayH
Re: Is it legal and/or a good idea to use amazon online reviews in marketing?

Great discussion. I was thinking about asking a couple of people if I could use their reviews in my book. A couple of authors gave me positive remarks on Amazon and Goodreads. I wrote a YA novel titled, The Magical Adventures of Brian Leonard. You can download it for free today and tomorrow. I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

Best,

 

Mr. M

Level 0 2 posts since
Feb 8, 2009
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12. Mar 14, 2015 3:35 PM in response to: SoundtrackEar
Re: Is it legal and/or a good idea to use amazon online reviews in marketing?

That's a good point, SoundtrackEar - I agree that in that context, a person who is a subject matter expert makes an excellent review. The degree to which the review is helpful is really about influence at that point. To use your example, if your book was about U.S.-Libya relations, a home run would be a former ambassador to Libya or the sitting secretary of state at that time (they would at least have some name recognition with readers). On the other hand, a university professor on foreign relations that nobody has ever heard of - not so much.

Level 1 124 posts since
Sep 26, 2013
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13. Mar 14, 2015 4:33 PM in response to: thriller
Re: Is it legal and/or a good idea to use amazon online reviews in marketing?

Hi Thriller--Thanks for your reply. No such luck with name recognition. Also, while the history of U.S.-Libya relations is the background of my story, the book is a family and childhood memoir. It will be listed in the American Foreign Service Association's online bookstore because it's partly about my dad's work in Libya under a program established under the Truman Administration, and the "expert" review will certainly carry weight there, because the reviewer, Ethan Chorin, was a U.S. diplomat in Libya much more recently and has written two books about Libya (Translating Libya: The Modern Libyan Short Story and Exit the Colonel: The Hidden History of the Libyan Revolution), both traditionally published by small houses. I was thinking not of name recognition but of the impression created by the titles of his books.

 

Chorin's Exit the Colonel is a hardbound book with two good reviews (not just sound bites, but thoughtful, interesting reviews) on the back jacket cover, written by Dirk Vandewalle, author of two other books on Libya, and by Ambassador Joseph Wilson [ret.], also a book author. These reviewers' books are straight nonfiction, not memoirs. I contacted Chorin about my book because his books include some of his own memoirs of his experiences in Libya. I've quoted rather extensively from Chorin's review of my book on the press release I've sent to the American Foreign Service Association, but what do you think of quoting from his review on my book cover?

 

Name recognition, for me, would be a recommendation from Jeannette Wells (The Glass Castle) and/or Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible), since a few people have compared my book to theirs, but these bestselling authors are not as easy to contact as Ethan Chorin is!

 

Message was edited by: SoundtrackEar

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