Pat has highlighted the most recent issue.
"For some unfathomable reason, disgruntled e-book readers have had a stroke of genius and now leave 1-star reviews on various Amazon sites if the title in question is not yet available in electronic format. It's by no means the first novel to suffer from such attacks, but Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson's Towers of Midnight has been the target of a slew of 1-star reviews solely due to the fact that the e-book edition won't be released till February 2011.
Now I'm not proclaiming that every e-book reader out there is a moron. But those idiots leaving 1-star reviews to make their displeasure known certainly deserve the title. If the shoe fits and all that crap.
Say what you want about Amazon reviews, the sad truth is that they are a tool used by hundreds of readers shopping for books and other products. Granted, Towers of Midnight won't suffer much from this treatment, but a less popular midlist author could see his or her sales go down the crapper based on the fact that his overall average is down to two or three stars simply due to the fact that assholes are bitching about this or that novel not being available in e-book format. Not every customer will take the time to read every single review to realize, to their consternation, that a bunch of idiots left 1-star reviews without having read the work."
I couldn't agree more. The quality (or lack thereof) of Amazon reviews is well known within the publishing industry, but the simple fact is that thousands of people rely on them when deciding which book to purchase. It therefore follows that a load of negative reviews are going to make people less likely to buy a book. Not that there's anything wrong with that if the reviews are genuine, but when they're the result of some disgruntled reader who has not even read the book in question yet, there's a real problem there. Sure, readers that actually bother to read the 1-star reviews will quickly realise if those reviews are not genuine. But a lot of people probably just look at the average star rating without reading individual reviews, and so may not realise if many of the negative reviews are totally false.
I really do hope - for the benefit of everyone: readers, authors and publishers - that Amazon eradicate this sort of nonsense. You'd think they'd do something, given that it doesn't exactly make their own business look that great if they're happy to publish 'reviews' that are not at all authentic. I'm sure that it's not just a case of someone snapping their fingers and magically everything is resolved, but there must be some sort of safeguard that can be introduced.