08 April 2013

Read Faster, You Fool

I've been an Amazon Vine member since 2009. I'd been doing Amazon reviews for a while before that, and was very surprised to be asked, because I certainly didn't have hundreds of reviews.

The idea is that every third Thursday you are sent a "targeted" list, supposedly by your interests. (There are some bitter comments from childless people who get offered baby strollers or nipples for bottles, women who are offered men's items, etc.) This is usually one to two pages. Then on the following Thursday all the items left are offered and you can pick two more. The items are usually books, but almost everything else has been offered, from electronics to food. You get the items for free, but in return, you are required to review them—a more thoughtful review than "I really liked this" or "This was awful."

The rule was, when I joined, that you had to review 75 percent of everything on your list. This was fair. I pretty much kept up with this for quite a while, but then, just being human, did skip some things. Last year the percentage you had to review was increased to 80 percent.

Sometimes things just don't work out. I've loved Amazon Vine because, since the books were Advance Reader Copies and free, I could occasionally step out of my book comfort zone without feeling like I'd wasted money. I don't usually read "chick lit," but once I selected a novel about a fictional dressmaker aboard the Titanic, another about a young woman living in Niagara Falls just after the falls were rigged to provide electrical power. I even got some military nonfiction. Just lately I got a book of Oz short fiction (definitely for adults), even though I've never been much of an Oz fan. But I also got a book that I thought was a geological history that turned out to be a climate change diatribe. A book about dogs that has actually turned out to be a bit dull. And even a piece of electronics which I ended up not using because after I read the other reviews of it, I didn't want to take a chance with it.

Friday everyone on Amazon Vine got an e-mail. Starting May 15, 100 percent of everything you order has to be reviewed within 30 days. Ouch! If you read slowly, better not order tomes. If they're offering something summery in December, you're probably not going to take it. Waiting till the grandkids visit at Thanksgiving to test out the cool toy you chose in May—not any more. The sticker was that this 100 percent review policy is retroactive through the beginning of January. So most of us have to hustle to get any back items reviewed. I'm enjoying Cronkite's War, but it's slow going as well. I have that and another book to finish for this month and will need to watch what I order from now on.

I guess I understand. The publishers and manufacturers want some advance reviews on the site before the product is released and everyone's been procrastinating too much, including me. Sadly, it's "safe" choices from now on.

Now to finish Cronkite...

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