In my January 1 writeup of all the books I read last year, I chronicled my long journey to the top of the Amazon reviewer rankings. As I explained then, I heard that higher ranked reviewers are sent free books and other products, in the hopes that they will review them, too, and give them a positive rating. Even though there are almost 100 books that I haven't read yet in my apartment, stacked in piles throughout the living room, I somehow felt that I needed more books, and spent the year adding a review of every book I read.
I then discovered that it's really hard to get to the top of the Amazon reviewer rankings.
Amazon won't say exactly how they determine your rank. Part of it is based on the number of times people find your reviews helpful, part of it seems to be the number of reviews you have, and I'm willing to bet that part of it is also related to whether or not the people who found your review helpful went on to actually buy the book. Whatever they do, I started 2014 at #4,829,824 and ended the year four million spots higher, at #125,420.
And then I never posted a review again.
Amazon wants me to. They've been sending me these emails that say things like, "Joel, one person found your review of __________ helpful" or even outright begging, asking, "Joel, how many stars would you give ________", and I've thought, NONE. I won't give you any stars, Amazon. You spent a year jerking me around, and you've broken my heart.
But now I feel like that's maybe the wrong path to take.
I'm not hurting Amazon any by not posting reviews anymore. Amazon doesn't really care about me. They only care about selling books. They don't care about my review ranking, either, unless it also helps them to sell books. On the other hand, I might be hurting authors, and I'm friends with some authors. Authors depend on reviews, written and verbal, to help people discover their work and possibly purchase it. They need positive reviews, and (if they read them) even negative reviews might be useful to them if they are well written and valid.
With that in mind, I'm going to go ahead and paste in the reviews of all the books I've read so far this year. Amazon doesn't need me to, but the authors whose work I read and enjoy might. I just won't look at my reviewer score for the rest of the year, no matter what Amazon sends me, unless they're sending an offer for free stuff.
Then I'll check to see how far my ranking has risen from my current number: #95,461.