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Jim Cox Report: November 2012

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

This month the commentary once again focuses upon a perennial favorite: Amazon's Book Review Policies and the Midwest Book Review.

This was a response to Amazon's peculiar, sudden, and seemingly haphazard refusal to allow book review postings by "professional" reviewers such as the Midwest Book Review, Reader Views, and several others after decades of having allowed them to do so to the benefit of authors, publishers, and the general reading public (who happen to also be their primary vendors and customer base).

This is from one of the most knowledge fellows I know of when it comes to the publishing industry and how it works:

Subject: Dear Jim - Here's the link
Date: 12/1/2011 2:14:13 P.M. Central Standard Time

I did some research and read up on the laws to try to understand what Amazon's basis for taking this action might be. Here's what I found.

In October 2009, The Federal Trade Commission clarified and adopted requirements that mandate the disclosure of any financial interest in advertising. Basically, if you received an interest in a product that you are promoting, you need to let people know the nature of that interest. The law is actually pretty amazing. It's been on the books for a long time. The core principle is "truth in advertising".

If you look at these FTC requirements it's possible to understand that without an express disclosure in each and every paid review, Amazon would not necessarily be able to remain in compliance with the regulations.

To gain more understanding, read on: or
people-are-asking or

After talking with you, I still am wondering if they may be thinking in their mind that "Professional Reviewers" still have some sort of a financial interest that requires disclosure.

Hope this helps,

Paul J. Krupin, Direct Contact PR
Reach the Right Media in the Right Market with the Right Message

It did help. Then I got this from one of my volunteer reviewers:

Subject: Sandra Heptinstall
Date: 12/9/2011 11:14:48 A.M. Central Standard Time

Hello Jim,

Isn't what Amazon is doing to Midwest discrimination? It sure seems so to me. Are you going to talk to a lawyer about it? After all, you have helped Amazon to become a top rated site.

I only know I am furious with the way they are treating you. You have helped so many authors who would not stand a chance without Midwest to help them.

Tell me what to do and I sure will help. Where I could write to, to help you out? I can send twenty dollars to help you out if you decide to fight them.

Sandra Heptinstall

To which I replied:

Dear Sandra:

Thank you for your very kind words and offer of support. It means the world to me.

Rather than fight Amazon in some kind of legal action, I intend to adapt to their new policy (which wasn't just against the Midwest Book Review but other professional reviewers and review publications and/or web sites like Irene Watson's "Reader Views") by teaching authors and publishers how to post our reviews on Amazon themselves - and to get our reviewers to post them directly under the own names.

One bright note is that this removes a monthly chore from my staff who took 4 or 5 days a month just to post all the reviews up on Amazon. This will free them to do other critical functions -- like review more books!

As for a financial gesture of support it really isn't necessary. But if you would like to make a symbolic gesture of appreciation and unity we could always use a contribution to our postage stamp fund!

If you don't mind, I'd like to include our little email exchange in my next "Jim Cox Report" as a representative example of the flood of support I've been receiving since this story came out.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

This Amazon review posting conundrum crops up virtually ever month as a result of our routinely sending out copies reviews and their accompanying publisher notification letters. So I created a form letter response to the inevitable requests that I post reviews of their books on Amazon:

Even though our reviews of print titles are free of charge, because there is a $50 Reader Free for reviews of digital titles, Amazon has currently barred us from posting reviews to them directly. I've written about this in detail in the December 2011 and January & February 2012 issues of my "Jim Cox Report" which you will find at:

However, as an author and/or publisher, you can post the review in the editorial section of the book page for your particular title.

Posting Reviews on

If Amazon proves problematic, you might want to post reviews on the Barnes & Noble web site. You'll find instructions on how to do so at "Posting Customer Reviews On Barnes & Noble":

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

The current bottom line continues to be one of inconsistency. Some authors and publishers post our reviews smoothly and without incident. Others run into blunt refusals. There is no rhyme or reason or pattern that I have been able to detect. If you go up onto the web site at and type in Midwest Book Review in their search engine you will (as of my typing up this issue of the Jim Cox Report) have the following pop up:

Showing 1 - 12 of 2,089 Results

So as of this moment, there are 2,089 reviews from the Midwest Book Review posted on the web site.

One last thing -- so far they've never 'bounced back' all of our reviews of Amazon Digital Publishing related ebook titles which I personally provide them with each month.

Here are reviews on titles of interest to writers, publishers, and the occasional bibliophile:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Writers' & Artists' Guide To How To Write
Harry Bingham
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, NY, NY 10010
9781408157176, $22.95,

Writing novels and non-fiction for publication is competitive, hard work, and requires a certain amount of talent combined with practical skill. Simply stated, "The Writers' and Artists' Guide to How to Write" by Harry Bingham (founder of the Writer's Workshop and the author of six successful novels) is an essential, practical, instructive, and thoroughly 'user friendly' guide for aspiring authors wanting to become good enough that their work will be published and their readership satisfied. Novice authors will learn the core skills necessary for effective storytelling including the creation of characters, prose style choices, and all of the diverse tools that can come into play with writing fiction and non-fiction. Of special note is the section on manuscript editing and getting help when needed. Practical, realistic, informed and informative, "The Writers' and Artists' Guide to How to Write" is especially recommended for novice writers, but will also prove an enduringly invaluable reference for even the more experienced author.

The Columbia Guide To Social Work Writing
Warren Green & Barbara levy Simon, editors
Columbia University Press
61 West 62nd Street, NY, NY 10023-7015
9780231142953, $34.50,

The writing of reports and the recording of records is a vital part of the daily responsibilities of practicing social workers. Researching in an academic setting or applying for grants in a community service organizational setting are just two of the major areas where good writing skills within the conditions, confines, and standards of the social work profession are absolute necessities for success. The collaboratively editorial work of Warren Green (founder of the Writing Center at Columbia university School of Social Work) and Barbara Levy Simon (Associate Professor of Social Work, Columbia University School of Social Work), "The Columbia Guide To Social Work Writing" is a 336 page compendium designed to ensure that students in social work curriculums, practicing social workers in the field, and social work administrators both in government and in the private sector, adhere to the highest standards and make their writing as effective as possible. Fifteen articles contributed by experienced professionals are deftly organized into three major sections: The Foundations of Good Writing; Applied Professional Writing; and Writing in Distinct Fields of Practice. Enhanced with an informative introduction, copious notations, and a comprehensive index, "The Columbia Guide To Social Work Writing" is a seminal contribution and highly recommended addition to professional and academic library Writing Skills Studies in general, and Social Work Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists in particular.

Here is "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" roster of well-wishers and supporters. These are the generous folk who decided to say 'thank you' and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating postage stamps this past month:

Hap Palmer
Eleanor Sullivan
Darlene Caerotte
Thomas Eli Galla
Joan Blacher -- "Lethal Lake"
Brooks Firestone -- "Evensong"
Greg Jemsek -- "Quiet Horizon"
Willie L. Harris -- "Whose Will"
Chris Karlsen -- "Journey in Time"
Robert B. Lowe -- "Project Moses"
Christine Hunt -- "The Orchid Murder'
Ann Miketa -- Formerly Known as Tank"
Rosetta Jackson -- "Time To Act America"
Elaine Andrus Watts -- "Me, Myself, and I"
Margaret McMillion -- "Personal Baggage"
Jonni Anderson -- "The Other Side of Time"
Michele DeFilippo -- "Publish Like the Pros"
Laura Merriel -- "Secret Voices from the Forest"
Belinda Vasquez Garcia -- "Return of the Bones"
Marilyn Weymouth Seguin -- "Young and Courageous"
Nechama Lisa-Levinson -- "When the Hurricane Came"
Stanley R. Zales -- "Jenny and the Hummingbird Faeries"
Stairway Press
Otter Creek Press
Spring Tree Press
TheCapitol.Net, Inc.
Jody Banks -- Axios Press
Andrea Lemieux -- Sapien Books
Sydney Collier -- Lysmata Publishing
Mary Sanchez -- Donald Youngblood Mysteries
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!

If you have postage to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys, uncorrected proofs, or Advance Reading Copies), accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release to my attention at the address below.

All of the previous issues of the "Jim Cox Report" are archived on the Midwest Book Review website. If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (and for free), just send me an email asking to be signed up for it.

So until next time -- goodbye, good luck, and good reading!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI, 53575

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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