Amazon is limiting reviews on James Comey’s new book — and some people are furious

Amazon's reviews for James Comey's A Higher Loyalty is limited to verified purchasers.

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Amazon’s reviews for James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty is limited to verified purchasers.
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  • Amazon is limiting the reviews for former FBI director James Comey’s new book “A Higher Loyalty.”
  • Only customers who purchased the book directly from Amazon can leave a review, the company confirmed to Business Insider.
  • Amazon does this on controversial items where people might have a polarized view on the book or its author without any actual experience with it.

Former FBI director James Comey’s new book, “A Higher Loyalty,” is sure to stir up controversy. But, like a good steward, Amazon is encouraging reviewers to keep the fights off its platform.

The retailer is currently limiting reviews on the book, which came out on April 17, to only “verified buyers.” That means customers who have purchased the book through Amazon, either in print or a Kindle e-book version. Verified buyers are automatically recognized by Amazon through their Amazon account, and are allowed to post whatever review they want.

If someone tries to post a review who has not bought the book through Amazon, an error message comes up: “Sorry, we are not able to accept your review of this product.”

Reviews for Comey’s book are currently overwhelmingly positive on Amazon, with an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars from over 300 reviews.

Amazon confirmed to Business Insider it is limiting the reviews on the book. Amazon did something similar when the controversial book on President Donald Trump, “Fire and Fury,” by Michael Wolff, came out on the website back in January.

Reviews on Amazon for Hillary Clinton’s book, “What Happened,” which came out in September, were also securitized after its publisher, Simon & Schuster, said, “It seems highly unlikely that approximately 1,500 people read Hillary Clinton’s book overnight and came to the stark conclusion that it is either brilliant or awful.”

Some users are not happy about the review limits on Comey’s book and are protesting on Amazon’s Facebook page, calling the measure “censorship” and questioning the positive reviews.

“Why is Amazon blocking all less than stellar reviews of Comey’s new book?” one would-be reviewer said. “Please explain why you are preventing people from leaving reviews that aren’t 4 or 5 stars? Anyone looking at this book would think everyone loves it. I didn’t, and I should be allowed to say so.”

Amazon limits reviews on controversial items to ensure that the reviews posted are actually useful to readers. A book by a politically charged character like Comey would most likely prompt reviews from people that have no experience with the actual book, but have a strong opinion of the man.

Reviews are a very valuable currency for Amazon, as it can encourage people to buy items they might not otherwise have taken a chance on. By virtue of online shopping, it’s difficult to get a feel for certain objects, but people sharing their experiences with the items can help remove the risk.