A group of 49 leading British writers have grouped together to pen a letter to The Telegraph warning readers of the growing proliferation of ‘fraudulent’ book reviews online.
Ian Rankin, Stuart MacBride and Val McDermid were amongst those to put pen to paper following an admission from frellow novelist RJ Ellory to adopting fake identities in order to propagate glowing reviews of his latest tome.
Rounding on so called ‘sock puppeting’ techniques the authors have called on readers and the book industry to clamp down on such practices, particularly on sites such as Amazon where the technique is said to be rife.
Ellory was pilloried after it emerged he had gone online under a false name to write of his ‘magnificent genius’ – whilst simultaneously slagging off rivals, he later apologised for a ‘lack of judgement’ after being caught.
Their letter said: “These days more and more books are bought, sold, and recommended online, and the health of this exciting new ecosystem depends entirely on free and honest conversation among readers,” they wrote.
“But some writers are misusing these new channels in ways that are fraudulent and damaging to publishing at large.
“Few in publishing believe they are unique. It is likely that other authors are pursuing these underhand tactics as well.”
“We … unreservedly condemn this behaviour, and commit never to use such tactics. But the only lasting solution is for readers to take possession of the process. The internet belongs to us all.”