Launched in 2007, Amazon Vine is an internal service of Amazon.com 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 reviewers who are then required to publish a review. Past and present participating companies include Logitech, Harper Collins, Philips, Samsung, Bose, Sony, Tefal, Microsoft, Breville, Bosch, Garmin, Dyson, Remington, Case Logic, Creative, Braun, Sennheiser, Olympus, LG, Black & Decker, Acer and Walker Books. Reception for the program has been mixed with some people criticizing the program's use of non-professional reviewers while others cited this as a benefit. The Vine program operates independently on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr and Amazon.de.
Vine members (known as "Vine Voices") are selected from the Amazon reviewer base with the site stating that the selection criteria is "based on the trust [the members] earned in the Amazon community for writing accurate and insightful reviews". Members also have access to forums devoted to Amazon Vine, where they can discuss matters related to the Vine program, Amazon in general and non-Amazon matters. All Amazon customers have access to the forums.
Previously there were two Vine newsletters every month. The first newsletter appeared on the third Thursday of the month and the second appeared on the fourth Thursday. Leftover items from these newsletters went to the "Last Harvest" list, from where Vine members could choose an unlimited amount of products.
Products available for review can include books, furniture, movies, electronics, appliances, sports equipment, food items, jewelry and other sundries. In return for products received, members are required to post a review within 30 days of delivery. Members are prohibited from selling or giving away products received and are instructed to recycle or destroy any items that they do not wish to keep.
The Vine process changed 21 July 2014. It is now known as "Infinite Vine" and "Vine for All." Vine members will check the website for a changing array of items and can select up to 5 at a time from Infinite Vine, with an unlimited amount from Vine for All. This change was a response to increased vendor interest in this program.
Beginning 1 July 2015, Vine members are required to provide tax identification numbers to Amazon before receiving any new materials to review. Amazon uses the fair market value (FMV) of products as non-cash, taxable payments to Vine Voices for their services. Ownership of each Vine third-party product transfers to the respective Vine Voice six months after the order date, and it is then that the FMV applies for tax purposes. At the time of order and pending determination of the FMV, Amazon estimates what the FMV will be at the time ownership transfers. Exceptions to this include household items, which are generally valued at $0, books, which are each valued at $.99, and non-third party products for which ownership transfers at the time the product is delivered to a common carrier.
The program has been met with criticism over the program's lack of transparency and the professionalism of its reviewers. Kristen McLean, formerly 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 also initially met criticism over the visibility of the reviews, with librarian Elizabeth Bird (author and Top 500 Amazon Reviewer) commenting that her reviews were sometimes "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 lay readers and professional reviewers, that latter of who would be more able to "give insightful commentary and acknowledge a book’s intended audience".
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