Amazon Vine is an internal service of Amazon.com, first launched in 2007, that allows manufacturers and publishers to receive reviews for their products on Amazon. Companies pay a fee to Amazon and provide products for review; the products are then passed to Amazon customers who are then obligated to publish a review. Participants include 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 items from each newsletter at no charge (with the number varying from newsletter to newsletter). There are usually two Vine newsletters a month with original items listed. The first newsletter appears on the third Thursday of every month, and the second appears on the fourth Thursday. The remaining items from these Vine newsletters go to the "Last Harvest" section, and Vine members can choose an unlimited amount of products from Last Harvest. Products available for review can include books, movies, electronics, appliances, sports equipment, food items, jewelry, and other sundries. In return, members are required to post reviews for 100 percent of the received items within 28 days of delivery. Members are prohibited from selling or giving away merchandise received from the site and are instructed to 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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