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Amazon Verified Purchase reviews: Fact versus fiction

You’ll often see “Verified Purchase” under a book review’s stars and headline on Amazon.

That label means that Amazon has “verified that the person writing the review purchased the product at Amazon and didn’t receive the product at a deep discount.

Some authors believe that if you didn’t purchase the book on Amazon so that it’s “verified,” you can’t review it.

Others think that reviews that aren’t verified have no value and aren’t worth securing.

Amazon Verified Purchase reviews myth busting

They believe this even though Amazon states, “Reviews that are not marked ‘Amazon Verified Purchase’ are valuable as well, but we either can’t confirm that the product was purchased at Amazon or the customer did not pay a price available to most Amazon shoppers.

Here are the facts about verified and unverified reader reviews on Amazon.

1. You don’t have buy the book on Amazon to review it.

Amazon states on the site that readers “can review any product on Amazon, regardless of where they purchased that product” as long as theyhave spent at least $50 on Amazon.com using a valid credit or debit card in the past 12 months.

This means you can review a book you’ve borrowed, bought elsewhere, or received as a gift as long as you meet the spending requirement.

That’s important to understand because some authors insist that if reviews aren’t verified, Amazon won’t post them. That simply isn’t true.

2. Verified Purchase reviews carry more weight than those that aren’t verified.

To verify this anecdotally, I looked at the reviews of several books, including my own. In every case, the first reviews presented have the Amazon Verified Purchase label.

“Anecdotally” isn’t enough, though, so I contacted Amazon.

Here’s what a representative told me via email:

“We continue to evolve the ranking order in which reviews are displayed, seeking to show the most useful & trustworthy reviews to help shoppers make decisions. We use machine learned models and factors such as age of a review, whether it was a verified purchase, customer feedback on helpfulness, and other factors to constantly improve our ability to help shoppers make the best decisions, even if that decision is not to buy.”

How can you use this information?

There are three things you can do with this information immediately.

1. Stop obsessing about how a reader acquired your book.

Continue to solicit reviews because all reviews, not just Amazon Verified Purchase reviews, are important. (And if you don’t have the Build Book Buzz Reader Book Review Form that simplifies and facilitates this process for readers , get it here.)

2. Encourage people to click “helpful” on any reviews that help them make a purchase decision. 

Amazon relies on its customers to tell it what information is helpful, so support that process with action.

I’m not talking about manipulating reviews on your books — far from it. This is about helping Amazon assess which reviews are and aren’t useful to readers and other product purchasers.

In addition to encouraging readers to take this extra step, set an example by doing this with customer feedback on all types of products you’re considering. Don’t limit review feedback to books.

3. Study Amazon’s rules for reader reviews.

This should be standard operating procedure for authors, but isn’t. And what you don’t know can get you and your books kicked off this important sales platform.

Here are links to nearly everything you need to know about reader reviews on Amazon:

Bookmark or save these links so that you can return to them each time you plan a review campaign. Rules can change, and Amazon will update these pages as needed.

What’s your best tip for securing honest reader reviews? Please tell us in a comment.

Subscribe to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter and get the free special report, “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources,” immediately!

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    1. You’re welcome, Geoffrey! And you’re in good company — many authors aren’t aware or don’t understand.


  1. Dear Sandy,

    Even though my book is on hold in the dream file, I like to tune up with your interesting and relevant news and tools. I’m quite “anti” when it comes to social media so it may be a chuckle considering market means.


    1. I hope that dream can be a reality soon, Dan. When the time comes, you can tap your social networks — if you decide to embrace social media! — for readers willing to write reviews.


  2. Thank you so much for sharing information and helpful links once again! Hoping to publish later this year for the first time and your links offered answers to questions I’m beginning to research. I don’t want to get TOO far ahead of myself, but knowledge is power! Thank you!

    1. You’re welcome, Nancy! I’m glad you’re learning the rules before you go too much farther ahead. That’s smart!


  3. This is helpful! I read an ARC provided by the author and tried to leave a review for the ebook on Amazon, but they never published it. I have spent far more than $50 in the past 12 months on Amazon, so that wasn’t the problem. I spoke to an Amazon representative about it, and she specifically told me that unless a book was bought on Amazon, the review would not be published.
    Do you have any idea why they would say this? I’ve definitely seen reviews (although fewer than I used to) that are not verified purchases.

    1. Christie, it sounds to me like she was simply mistaken. This isn’t unusual with customer service in general, unfortunately. Case in point: When handling a problem related to my mother’s mortgage, I talked to 3 people at the company and each one had a different answer. Only one of them was correct.

      Amazon specifically states that publishers can provide ARCs in exchange for an honest review. It’s a long-standing practice in the publishing industry.


      1. Thanks for responding! You’d think they’d have a standard answer for that for all customer service reps. But what you say is true, I’ve run into similar problems like the one you mentioned with other companies as well.
        Great info, thank you!

  4. Purchasing the book from Amazon is no guarantee your review will be published. I recently wrote a review and got an email saying it wouldn’t be published, followed by a long list of reasons, none of which applied to what I’d written. Others have told me Amazon now blocks authors from reviewing other author’s books. That appears to be why my review wasn’t published.

    1. The 4th link at the end of this article isn’t working, but when it was, it said that yes, authors can review books by other authors. Can you think of a reason why that would be banned? I can’t. What happened to you is frustrating but from what I can tell, not all that unusual. Did you push back?


  5. If I buy something from somebody’s Amazon Wish List, will THEY be considered as having made a Verified Purchase?

  6. To me, the biggest issue with reviews is that Amazon discriminates against anyone who hasn’t spent $50 on their platform in the last 12 months. Several people who raved about my father’s book told me they were blocked from reviewing it because they didn’t meet the sales quota. Amazon is stupidly cutting off its nose to spite its face: blocking reviews blunts sales from which AMAZON makes the bulk of the money! Not to mention they’re pissing off and embarrassing those they’ve blocked by implying they’re too poor to meet the grade. Sales-shaming isn’t a term, but maybe it should be.

    1. K, I suspect that policy is in place to prevent the site from being overrun with bogus reviews and spammers. But no matter what the reason, Amazon won’t suffer if it sells a few less books because of this policy.

      I’m not sure why anyone would be embarrassed about not buying from Amazon — in fact, many wear that as a badge of honor. They don’t like the retailer so they don’t give it their money. Not spending money on that site doesn’t mean you can’t afford to. It says you choose not to.

      Consider directing your reviewers to Goodreads, instead. It’s owned by Amazon, but there’s no spending requirement for reviews.


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