“Vine helps our vendors generate awareness for new and pre-release products by connecting them with the voice of the Amazon community: our reviewers. Vine members, called Voices, may request free copies of items enrolled in the program and have the ability to share their opinions before these products become generally available.”
Apparently Amazon had experimented with sending-out ARCs before. But we suspect they were not unaware of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program, which made Publishers Weekly, Pub Lunch and top publishing blogs. It makes a lot of sense for them to be doing.
So far the program is email invite only. They’re apparently basing invitations on being among their top reviewers. By contrast, Early Reviewers program is based around similar libraries, although we favor “vocal” members too. Ultimately, we think LibraryThing is in a better position to give books to the best readers, but there’s no denying Amazon’s scale and, if they put their mind to it, they’ve done remarkable things with recommendations algorithms before.
Lastly, Amazon is to be congratulated for stating unequivocally that will not be editing negative reviews:
“As with all Amazon reviews, we want your honest opinion of the product. Amazon will not edit or modify any reviews beyond small tweaks to fit within existing guidelines…”
This is in line with how Amazon has always worked. As James Marcus writes in Amazonia, their decision to show bad reviews was a gutsy decision at the time—a reminder of the “bad old days” of marketing! I hope they follow this up with what we promise: that negative reviews will not impact whether you continue to get Amazon Vine books.