Amazon Review Policy Revisited & Growing International Markets

A slight follow up from a previous post. You remember I posted about Amazon’s changing review policy? Well, thanks to Lisha Cauthen‘s amazing Sunflower Scoop, here’s the latest response from Amazon, but it’s not particularly satisfying:

Last week, we reported how book review and publicty company Reader Views was banned from posting their reviews on Amazon.

The post garnered debate among our readers. According to an email from Irene Watson, the founder of Reader Views, Amazon has banned reviews from 15 sites.

In response to our posts, an Amazon spokesman emailed us explaining the policy for reviews posted on their site: “Paid reviews are welcome in the ‘Editorial Reviews’ section of a book’s detail page. Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product are not allowed in the Customer Reviews section.”
Amazon also gave us links to its Customer Review Guidelines and its Editorial Reviews.

We asked Amazon about why Reader Views specifically had their reviews removed, but did not receive a response.

And now for more heartwarming news:

As many of you know, I have a particular interest in China’s growing literary market. Earlier this year, the PRC announced that they are actively pursuing literature about China, but written in other countries. Specifically, they want positive views of China’s history.

Just last week, the following article was published on Shelf Awareness:

Dangdang, which is often called the Amazon of China, plans to launch its own e-book platform later this month. Yi Wen-fei, the company’s v-p, said there are currently 50,000 digital books ready for purchase from more than 100 publishers, PaidContent reported, noting that Dangdang’s digital books will be available “on its own apps for iOS and Android, which are believed to be launching soon, and on its own-brand e-reader which should appear in the first quarter of 2012.”

Dangdang now joins competitors Hanvon and Shanda in the Chinese e-book market, but will have a dramatic impact on those two companies, “who effectively have a duopoly on the digital publishing market to consumers in China,” paidContent wrote.

One of my readers and friends, Giora, has contacted Dangdang to see if this includes works in English. I’ll let you know if we here anything back. What about you? Would an opening market in China encourage you to submit overseas?

And the Winner Is….

Courtesy of, the winner of Jeannie Lin’s “The Dragon and the Pearl” is…

Walt! Walt, I will PM you for your address. Thanks, everyone for your interest in this book.

Book Review: The Dragon and the Pearl

Well, it took me WAY too long to buy this book, for which I can only offer my profuse apologies to the author. I had wanted to do a review while the book was still in stores, but October escaped me. Obviously, November did, too. Before I tell you about this book, I think I will remind you about my review policies and admit that yes, I know the author and consider her a friend. That has nothing whatsoever to do with the nature of my reviews. I do not hold punches. If I’m uncomfortable posting a favorable review on this blog, I won’t do it. I also try to be honest about likes and dislikes. It speaks volumes for “Dragon” that you won’t find any mention of “dislikes” below.
So, I’m almost two months late, but the book was worth the wait. “The Dragon and the Pearl “ is a stand-alone novel by Jeannie Lin, however it does pick up where “Butterfly Swords” left off. “Dragon’s” cast includes Li Tao, the antagonist of Butterfly Swords, as the hero of “Dragon,” and his backstory gives us a much wider vision of the author’s Tang Dynasty China.
Now I loved “Butterfly Swords” (click the link to see my review), but you can see Lin’s skill as an author has increased since the first book. She has sunk herself into this world, making the characters rounded, fleshed and highly sexual. More than that, her political and social structure is more solid than the Kunlun mountains. She needed that solidity as we find out how both the court and the seedy underground culture of Tang dynasty functioned.
Thanks to that background structure, we discover why Li Tao is the stern and unyielding man you met before, but we also find the heart beneath that exterior. That said, he never breaks character. His is one of the strongest, most well rounded characterizations I’ve ever seen. Hypnotizing, never a good man, but always a believable and desirable man. In many ways, Lin’s characterizations and dialogue reminded me of works by my favorite author, Guy Gavriel Kay. Those of you who know me will recognize I mean that as the greatest compliment I can give.
If you enjoyed the dainty appetizer of “Butterfly Swords,” you will love the full course spread that is “The Dragon and the Pearl.” Go out and buy a copy via Amazon, Barnes and Noble or wherever else you can find one OR you can put your name into the hat for this second copy I bought. I refuse to give away mine.

Wow, new blogger interface is really weird. We’ll see if I stay with it, but honestly, I’ve been contemplating making changes here anyway. This may just be the (invisible to you) beginning of them. Well, I wanted to let you all know I won’t have a real post today, but if you come back on Wednesday I’ll have a review of Jeannie Lin’s “The Dragon and the Pearl.”

Occupied: What Do You Think?

This was in Shelf Awareness’ news on Thursday and it ticked me off so much, I wanted to know if I’m the only one with this reaction.

The National Book Awards were held at the Cipriani Ballroom at 55 Wall Street, just a few blocks away from Zuccotti Park, where the Occupy Wall Street movement was still recovering from a raid by New York City police in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Damage from that raid included the roughly 5,000-volume “People’s Library,” although contributors began bringing more books down to the park almost as soon as it re-opened. By late Wednesday afternoon, volunteer librarian Hristo was standing guard over a few hundred titles, stored in several jumbo-sized Ziploc bags to protect them from rain. Contrary to claims by city officials that the library had been preserved during the raid, he said that the majority of the books had been damaged when seized by authorities. (His description was backed up by eyewitnesses at the reclamation center for the property seized during the raid.) He also mentioned that he and other librarians needed to maintain a constant vigil on the small stacks of books, as police had already threatened to seize it should it be left unattended.

An hour later, as guests began arriving at Cipriani for the pre-awards NBA reception, the NYPD returned to the park, providing a solid line of security for a Brookfield sanitation crew as they tossed the entire contents of the restored library into a Dumpster. News of this second seizure spread rapidly as people with access to Twitter began telling others at Cipriani, and some attendees (including myself) encouraged others to take the books displayed on every table to re-restock the library after the ceremony was over. I took two YA nominees to a now near-deserted park, where another volunteer named Anthony vowed that the “People’s Library” would rebuild again on Thursday, and we discussed an impromptu strategy: maybe this time, instead of stockpiling all the books in one place, every person taking part in the Occupation should carry a book or two, and people can ask each other what books they have, and if they can borrow them. The police can’t seize books from citizens’ hands, can they? –Ron Hogan

Considering the recent pepper spraying of peaceful student protesters, I think the police may be losing some self-control during these protests. I’m afraid Mr. Hogan may find he was naive in his last question.

What do you think? Are the police out of line? Does the destruction of books, however symbolic, light your fuse?