Amazon’s Review Policy

I’ve ranted about this on fb, but it’s still driving me crazy. My book on crime reporting, race, and gender was published three years ago this summer. Almost immediately, someone posted a racist attack on the book that argued — against all empirical evidence — that my book’s premise was wrong and that, in fact, the 1990s had witnessed the “complete and utter breakdown of black morality” (

At the time, I just avoided looking at the Amazon page, following Mrak’s advice “to not get into [another] pissing match with a skunk.” But the one star rating, plus the line that comes up — “Carol Stabile has been smoking crack” — show up in so many searches on the book that I finally sat down to write to Amazon about removing the review.

The Amazon guidelines ( off the “fine print” section) say that they will remove reviews containing “Objectionable material,” which they define as:

• Obscene or distasteful content
• Profanity or spiteful remarks.

I contended that the reviewer’s opening gambit — “Carol Stabile has been smoking crack” — was in fact both distasteful and spiteful, but never heard back from Amazon about my request to remove it.

It’s a weird position to be in — I don’t mind negative reviews per se (there are a lot of flaws in the book that I’d correct had I a second chance) — but a one-star review that will turn up that phrase for eternity hardly seems fair.


2 responses to “Amazon’s Review Policy

  1. So the Amazon policy seems great. The problem lies in the inability of massive websites to clean house. Typical problem of the internet economy. You are doing the correct thing. Public humiliation will get their attention eventually (as it to will get indexed by Google’s servers).

  2. Wow, what a winner. I don’t think he actually read your book, but he clearly loves those white power books and Sarah Palin. Or maybe he bought the book thinking it would reaffirm his beliefs about the poor white people. I could see a white supremacist misreading the title…I think I would respond to the comment, if only to straighten out the sad man on the second page who is confused about how stats work…but Mrak is probably right.

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