Amazon Vine is an internal service of Amazon.com, first launched in 2007, that allows manufacturers and publishers to receive reviews for products that are offered on Amazon. Companies pay a fee along with providing the products to the review, with participating companies including Logitech, Harper Collins, and Walker Books. Reception for the program has been mixed, with some people criticizing the program's usage of non-professional reviewers while others cited this as a benefit and that it would allow for a wider variety of commentary.
Reviewers (often referred to as "Vine Voices") for the program are chosen from the member base on Amazon, with the site stating that the selection criteria is "based on the trust [the members] have earned in the Amazon community for writing accurate and insightful reviews". Members are invited through a link on Amazon's home page or through an e-mail invite, and are allowed to select several items from two monthly newsletters at no charge. Products available for review can include books, movies, electronics, food items, and other sundries. In return, members are required to post reviews for 100 percrent of the received items before ordering new ones. Members are also unable to sell or give away merchandise received from the site and must destroy any items that they do not wish to keep.
The program has been met with criticism over the program's lack of transparency and the professionalism of its reviewers. Kristen McLean of the Association of Booksellers for Children commented that Amazon did not initially disclose that publishers paid to have their products listed and that "Amazon is not specific about how many people are in the program, how they’re chosen." The program has also been met with criticism over the visibility of the reviews, with librarian Elizabeth Bird commenting that newer reviews were "shuffled off to the side" while Vine reviews were more prominently and visibly placed. Bird further commented that some of the reviewers were choosing and criticizing books that they were "not the best representative readers for" and that this highlighted the difference between casual and professional reviewers, who would be more able to "give insightful commentary and acknowledge a book’s intended audience".
The effectiveness of the program has also been questioned, with author Rob Eagar commenting that he had worked on several book campaigns that utilized the program and had not seen a large increase in non-Vine reviews.
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