The Amazon reviews system is designed, programmed, and operated in a way that gives advantage to book-hyping shills indwelling the place this is a suspicion that's impossible to avoid after paying careful attention to its workings for a while. For example consider this nuance: a reviewer can at any time delete a review of his own. In itself, this is good and sensible: why not, it's his review, maybe he doesn't like it anymore. But how about this: the same reviewer can repost this very same review, and attention please this review will appear as posted on the original posting date (of the deleted review). That is the case even if the review was several years old. Now, this is strange, isn't it? I mean, if you deleted something, it's probably because you didn't like it (for whatever reason) and it's gone! You'd think the new review should appear marked as posted on the date when it was actually posted. That's not how it works on Amazon.com, and the way it does work is very strange. Why would this be done this way?
I think an example will give a hint:
(1) Here's a review by Harriet Klausner (of the book One Step Over the Border: A Novel) as it appears right now, i.e. this is how a newcomer to the site will see it.
(2) And here is the google-cached version of it; it appears as it was a month or so ago. Please note that there are a number of comments in this version. 1
Have you noticed that the current version does not have ANYTHING at all in the Comments section? It is pristine; it looks like no one ever posted anything there. And yet there were posts and not just any posts, but posts questioning the credibility of the reviewer (in this case, HK). Where did these posts go? How did they disappear?
Here's how: the reviewer deleted and reposted this review. This operation does not preserve the comments yet the review appears posted on its original posting date: there's no sign of this reviews' having been tampered with, and how convenient! there's not a hint that there used to be comments under this review (and, needless to say, what they said, and why, and so on). In other words: a reviewer can get rid of comments posted under his review and he can do it unobtrusively, 'cleanly' as it were; w/o leaving any traces of any comments' having ever been there to begin with.
Eureka? Effectively, a reviewer is in full control of comments made by others for his review. He can censor and expurgate them any time and for any reason. Suppose you've been shilling for a publisher, posting, say, two dozen five-star reviews every day for the said publisher's books. Now suppose someone notices that and posts a comment expressing his outrage. Bummer! You've been outted! Well, you don't need the public alerted to your shilling of course, and the good news is, Amazon is on your side: all you need to do is delete and repost this review the unwelcome comments will be gone, the review will appear untouched, a common Joe reading this particular book's page will supect nothing. Not knowing that what he's reading is hype by shills, he may even be swayed by the positive rankings and buy the book.
1. [Read this only if the cached page comes up w/o comments] Alas, no longer: no sooner have we mentioned this cached version as it disappeared: the link to cached page now displays the regular (current) page. Someone must be monitoring this blog really carefully and taking action where possible; well, OK, it's nice to see we're read :-) Anyway, the point is, there were a number of comments in the older version of this page (I'll see if I saved the cached page: if I did, I'll post it here; if I didn't, just take my word for it: there were comments there).
2. Yes, I found it: here it is (loads slowly, give it a few seconds).