This is a lesson in how any system can be gamed.
Amazon reviews have been built up to be an integral part of how we evaluate books for sale on amazon. The ability to see what people are saying about a product has turned the process of book-buying on its head. Instead of briefly skimming the back of the jacket and taking a gamble on whether it's good or not, you can see the general consensus of the community of readers and *hopefully* get a better idea on whether this book is any good.
Unfortunately, like any process, it can be gamed, and this week we've seen how deep this can get.
A guy called Rutherford set up a review-buying service where authors could come and purchase good-reviews on amazon. In one case making a new author (John Locke) into an overnight millionaire.
Here's a link to the full story on the John Locke book review scandal
The uproar in the authorial world has been tremendous. and amazon are investigating what happened and what they can do about it. It's a tough job, because it's extremely difficult to figure out whether reviews are sincere.
Hopefully they can find a way because I'd hate to lose the ability to see the true measure of the community's feelings towards a book.