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“Bestselling Author Caught Posting Positive Reviews of His Own Work on Amazon”

I don’t have much sympathy for well-paid academic plagiarists who are too lazy to do their jobs, but I actually can feel for the author in this story who posted fake positive Amazon reviews of his own books and negative reviews of his competitors’.

I mean, sure, this is despicable behavior, I won’t deny that, but it’s gotta be harder and harder to make money writing books. Even a so-called bestselling author must feel under a lot of pressure. I was recently reading a book by Jonathan Coe—he’s just great, and famous, and celebrated, but I doubt he’s getting rich from his books. Not that there’s any reason that he has to get rich, but if even Jonathan Coe isn’t living the high life, that’s not good for authors in general. It’s a far cry from the days in which Updike, Styron, etc., could swagger around like bigshots.


  1. zbicyclist says:

    They did it differently in the 19th century. This is from an article Mark Twain wrote as an anonymous “English Critic”, reviewing his own book, “Innocents Abroad”:


    “THE INNOCENTS ABROAD. A Book of Travels. By Mark Twain. London: Hotten,
    publisher. 1870.

    Lord Macaulay died too soon. We never felt this so deeply as when we
    finished the last chapter of the above-named extravagant work. Macaulay
    died too soon–for none but he could mete out complete and comprehensive
    justice to the insolence, the impertinence, the presumption, the
    mendacity, and, above all, the majestic ignorance of this author.

    To say that the INNOCENTS ABROAD is a curious book, would be to use
    the faintest language–would be to speak of the Matterhorn as a neat
    elevation or of Niagara as being “nice” or “pretty.” “Curious” is too
    tame a word wherewith to describe the imposing insanity of this work.
    There is no word that is large enough or long enough.

    …. That the book is a deliberate and wicked creation of a diseased mind, is apparent on every page.”
    (etc. for 5 pages)

    (This was collected in The $30,000 Bequest, 1907, available freely here: )

  2. xi'an says:

    Sad because the book is really good…

  3. John Mashey says:

    Internet reputational systems have a long way to go to be trustworthy.

    IUOUI: Ignore Unsupported Opinions of Unidentifiable Individuals

  4. Rufus Quimby Fitzbunny says:

    This is the best blog post ever. Bombastic, yet subtle. Ancient, yet fresh. Shifty, yet true. The author’s genius is only matched by his devilish good looks. Somebody give this man $100,000!

  5. Sister Edith says:

    Look at Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and notice the huge number of requests for people to write reviews of music, movies, hotels, and books even though they have no experience with them..

    I suspect that many of the “consumer” or “reader” reviews we see — especially the positive ones — are this kind of paid work, not sincere reviews. This author cut out the middleman and so looks despicable. Had he hired a promotion firm, someone else would write favorable reviews without reading the book.

    Online review and reputation is manipulate and people have turned it into a business. I do not think this is a good thing: but it is real.