Digital Publishing has become big business and e-book revenue is at an all time high. Penguin, Hachette and Random House have publicly stated that e-books account for 25% of their entire revenue stream. Amazon is the beneficiary of the entire e-book revolution and the company controls 75% of the entire e-book market in the US. Major publishers and indie authors both vie for your consumer dollars based on the strength of the verified product reviews people leave after purchasing a book. Sadly, over the years there have been many documented cases in which people try and game the system with paid reviews. This epidemic is so widespread that it has resulted in Amazon lawsuit levied against Fiverr.
According to a recently revealed court documents, Amazon is seeking to have the identities of over 1,000 people disclosed who use the Fiverr service for the purpose of leaving fake e-book reviews. This is the first time Amazon has targeted individuals and not companies.
Amazon built their case against the users of Fiverr over the course of a five month sting operation. Paid Amazon agents emailed users who said they would leave 5-star reviews for $5 each.
One Fiverr user that went by bess98 offered to write the reviews from multiple computers, so as to deceive Amazon. Another user, Verifiedboss, unwittingly told the investigators, “You know the your [sic] product better than me. So please provide your product review, it will be better.”
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.