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Reviews sabotaged on Amazon U.K.

The U.K.’s Daily Mail (via MobyLives) reports authors and publishers who are accusing each other of skewing Amazon star ratings by creating fake reader reviews:

[PR firms] provide favourable reviews of new books, at a price. Nathan Barker, of Reputation 24/7, offers a service starting at £5,000. He said: “First we set up accounts. For a romance novel we’d pick seven female profiles and three males. We’d say we like this book but add a tiny bit of criticism and compare it to another book.” Mr Barker claims this is common practice among publishers.

The article goes on to describe hostile reviews received by authors Polly Samson and Rosie Alison.

One [review] compares Miss Alison’s writing to Mills and Boon novels, while another claims she “has no feel for fiction at all, no sense of what makes a plot tick along, no flair for language.” Another implies that the author’s success is connected to her marriage to Tim Waterstone, founder of the chain of High Street bookshops.