'But there is some new evidence suggesting that Amazon’s customer reviewers—particularly the top 1,000 reviewers—do not always make independent decisions about which books and other products they write about. According to anew Cornell study
that we previewed last week, the reviewers in many cases acknowledge that in order to maintain their high rankings and continue to receive free products (one of the perks of being a top reviewer), they have to make surprisingly calculated decisions about what to review and what to say about those products.
The author of the study, Cornell professor Trevor Pinch, says the fundamental problem is that people reading the reviews probably naturally assume that the Amazon reviewers are regular shoppers just like them—when, in fact, their relationship to the products they review can be a little more complicated. “The issue of the ‘customers’ not really being customers needs to be addressed,” says Pinch, who surveyed 166 of Amazon’s top 1,000 reviewers for his study.'