After Legal Drum-Beating, Author Admits He Trashed Competitors In Amazon Reviews

from the when-you're-in-a-hole... dept

There's been an almighty kerfuffle in British historian circles the last couple of weeks, after some people noticed a couple of reviewers on Amazon were talking up one historian's work while trashing books written by others in the same field. The author in question was named Orlando Figes, a professor at London's Birkbeck College. One of the pseudonyms used on Amazon was "orlando-birkbeck", so it wasn't too difficult to assume who was posting the reviews. Word started getting around and was picked up by some newspapers, leading Figes' lawyer to deny his involvement and demand corrections be run, suggesting Figes could be entitled to damages. Then, the lawyer issued a statement blaming Figes' wife (herself a lawyer) for the reviews. Not surprisingly, Figes has now admitted he wrote the reviews, and he's very sorry. This isn't the first time authors have been caught giving themselves good reviews, and generally, most attempts to do this sort of thing end badly. You'd expect by now that most reasonably intelligent people would understand that, and figure out that the potential downside of getting caught far outweighs any positive benefit the fake reviews could deliver. Then again, you'd also expect that most reasonably intelligent people wouldn't fall for 419 scams, either.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    kosmonautbruce (profile), Apr 23rd, 2010 @ 3:25pm


    While this sort of thing does happen a lot, as someone who was a history grad student in a former life, I do find this case surprising. Figes is a *big* name in his field (Russian history), and certainly should be well above this sort of behavior. I don't know anything about him personally, but this comes off as incredibly petty and lame (and far more damaging to his reputation than any lame Amazon review could do).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2010 @ 4:11pm

    film at 11. shocking news. you heard the sun sets each day too, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    question, Apr 23rd, 2010 @ 4:24pm

    Re: GlassHalfFull

    Why do you even bother

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2010 @ 4:37pm



    I must be living in a rather strange part of the world then, because I only see one sunset a year.

    Thanks for the update, I'll be sure to keep watch today.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Cohen (profile), Apr 23rd, 2010 @ 5:21pm

    The Coward is right

    While I don't usually agree with the Coward, I do for this.

    The concept that people are rigging the reviews on Amazon is hardly news. And getting exposed isn't either.

    I have a friend whose job it is to go through websites and post "reviews" of competitors products that would cast doubt on the safety and efficacy of those products.

    She then ever-so-gently suggests that a certain other product would be much better and/or safer.

    She actually had to take a writing test so they could tell if she writes well. And the company gives her the correct talking points that she should use to trash others.

    So why not the same thing with a lowly author?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    abc gum, Apr 23rd, 2010 @ 7:01pm

    Re: The Coward is right

    There are many things which recur on a regular basis, this by itself is not a good reason for flippant dismissal.

    Had this type of story been published on this blog several times in the past week then there would be grounds for such disdain. However, that is not the case.

    It is apparent to me that the AC post is all too predictable and common place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2010 @ 8:17pm


    Those who remember history are doomed to repeat it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2010 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re: The Coward is right

    slack posts by a third stringer masnick backup are reason for flippant dismissal. just because the idea is new to carlo doesnt mean the rest of the world didnt already know about it for the last, oh, 10 years or so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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