Buying Fake eBook Reviews is a Bad Idea

An integral aspect of selling goods online, customer reviews have the power to make your ebook a strong seller. Conversely, negative reviews can consign your work to the “never going to be downloaded” category. For this reason, many writers are tempted to game the system by subscribing to paid services promising positive reviews.


But these people don’t read the book; they just say good things and post them, which gets to the heart of why buying fake ebook reviews is a bad idea. The act undermines one of the most reliable evaluation methods customers have to inform a purchase decision.

Amazon Has Sued

In an effort to preserve the trust shoppers place in reviews found on its site, Amazon filed lawsuits against four websites back in 2015 to stem the tide of fake positive product reviews. Amazon said the defendants were misleading customers while generating improper profit for themselves as well as the dishonest sellers and manufacturers who employed them.

Bookselling Sites Prohibit Them

This is straight from Amazon’s Community Guidelines:


  • “We take the integrity of the Community very seriously. Any attempt to manipulate Community content or features, including contributing false, misleading, or inauthentic content, is strictly prohibited. If you violate our Guidelines, we may restrict your ability to use Community features, remove content, delist related products, or suspend or terminate your account.”

They’re Usually Pretty Obvious

Most people who regularly shop for books can spot fake reviews right away and immediately disregard them. In many cases, people who have not read the book write them poorly and it’s rather apparent. So, if you were thinking you could spend a few bucks to game the system into selling ebooks for you, that money would be better spent on some legitimate promotional effort. Paying people who are willing to lie simply isn’t worth it. Further, while there are some legitimate paid review sites out there, they do not guarantee you’ll see positive reviews; so, buying feedback is a real crapshoot.

It’s Against the Law

According to Self-Publishing Review, U.S. federal consumer endorsement and fraud laws require any payments or services (including getting a review of your own book, however swapped, exchanged or assigned) be disclosed if posting it with consumer/customer-generated reviews. Therefore, any review obtained by a swap or a free copy of the book must be disclosed as such.

This means your reviewer has to say, “I reviewed this book in exchange for a free copy of it.” This gives readers the ability to take the review with a grain of salt, rather than considering it a wholly unbiased appraisal of the work. Which, of course, means they may pass on your title for one with a less tainted appearance.

It Will Come to Light Eventually

What’s done in the dark usually has a tendency to come to light. In this case, if you liberally sprinkle fake reviews around your book and sales take off, it’d better be a really good book. If it isn’t, the real reviews will be overwhelmingly negative, which will get you caught. When you are, the repercussions (as we’ve illuminated above) will be particularly punitive. Amazon is getting better and better at spotting fakes and they’ve shown a particular penchant for suing the companies involved. They’ve also exhibited no qualms about barring offending sellers from their marketplace, which could have a devastating effect on your sales.

Bottom line, the main reason why buying fake reviews is a bad idea is it’s simply dishonest. And, if you’re caught engaging in dishonest behavior to make a profit, you’ll eventually pay the consequences. It’s really not worth it.

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