Top 50 Reviewer Amos Lassen’s Fall From Amazon …..by Rick R. Reed

I asked Rick Reed to write a post about something that was important to him which of course left the door wide open. 🙂 As usual he’s fighting on behalf of someone else.

The way that Amos Lassen has been treated by Amazon is something that’s obviously a sore subject, and as someone who occasionally posts her reviews on Amazon, I can empathize. I haven’t posted reviews on Amazon in months because I hate the dirty politicking and backbiting that goes on there. Here’s Rick’s post.

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So this morning, I’m thinking about Amazon. “Um,” you say, rolling your eyes, “This is a review site about m/m romance, not booksellers…” thinking you’re goading me away from traveling down the wrong path.

But I’ll get there.

If you’re not aware, Amazon has been making lots of news lately. Cries of censorship and foul play abound, what with their recent decision to pull certain titles that contain material they, or some of their customers, found offensive. Personally, I feel Amazon is treading into dangerous waters, but also feel they are a business and not a governmental entity. They are not set up to provide civil rights; they are set up to make money, which they’re doing, quite admirably.

Which brings me to my second bit of news–and one that does very much affect m/m romance. Have you heard of Amos Lassen? He is (or was…hang on, I’m getting there) one of Amazon’s Top 50 reviewers. You have to review a ton of products to get that designation and Amos has–roughly nearly four thousand reviews over the past several years–many of those reviews devoted to m/m romance by authors you know and love. Amos is probably the most widely-read Amazon reviewer who has consistently been a champion for LGBT literature and film.

And now Amazon has pulled all of his reviews, including many of the wonderful five-star reviews he gave my own work.

“Why?” You are probably shouting at your screen. “That hardly seems fair!” You cry,  bouncing up and down petulantly in your desk chair.

A lot of people agree with you. There’s even a Facebook page set up, We Proudly Support Amos Lassen. As of this writing, it was nearing 200 fans and is awash with messages of support and a glimpse into the other side–Amos’s detractors. If you’re on Facebook and want to show your support for Amos, click the link above and “like” the page.

“What are his detractors saying?” You might wonder, nervously gnawing at a hangnail and seriously considering taking up smoking again.

They say that Amos has plagiarized many of his reviews. They say that he–in a rush to keep his Amazon standing and to get free merchandise–has hustled reviews though the pipeline too quickly and that many of them bear the stamp of bad paraphrasing of other reviews or, in some cases, that he repurposes synopses and calls them reviews.
I don’t have access to Amos’s thousands of reviews to see if these claims are true. Nor do I have much access to his detractors or their claims, so it’s impossible for me to present a balanced view of this odd circus that has sprung up recently on one of the world’s largest booksellers. If you want to see what the detractors are saying, you can search for Amos Lassen in the Amazon discussion forums and you should get a picture, but I warn you, it will be a muddied picture, distorted by innuendo, name-calling, and just plain bad manners.

Amazon itself is staying mum on the matter. Even Amos Lassen himself has not heard from them, despite hundreds of e-mails to the bookseller.

What I do know is that Amos Lassen has been one of the greatest friends of LGBT literature we’ve probably ever seen. He has been a tireless champion of books and movies that are often marginalized, shining a positive light on many works that might otherwise go unnoticed. I know that, personally, I could always count on him for quick and thoughtful reviews of my work, both on Amazon and on Eureka Pride, the other site for which he reviews. And I know that hundreds of other m/m authors could make the same claim about Amos.

I wrote to Amos yesterday, offering my support and he quickly got back to me with this response:

“To those of you who want to know what happened at Amazon: a group of jealous reviewers who felt I reviewed too much and had risen too fast decided to accuse me of plagiarism and mocked up reviews that I did not write and used them for evidence. Amazon believed them and decided to delete all of my reviews and take away posting privileges. This means that I will not be posting on Amazon again but on my own review blog at http://amoslassen.wordpress.com/

as well as my home board eurekapride.com, tla.com, and Facebook. Your reviews on Amazon were not lost—they are all on eurekapride.com which is in the process of moving to a new server and will be down for a few more days. None of the reviews are lost. Eventually they will find their way to my review blog but there are 5000+ reviews to move.

This is nowhere near over. I am working with Lambda Legal and we are slapping these people with a slander/libel suit and charging them with a hate crime. We are also suing Amazon for non-protection of a top reviewer since I notified them the day this started and not one of my emails was answered. These people called the universities here in Arkansas, wrote to Lambda Literary, contacted publishing houses and authors and showed them that I am a plagiarizer. They have pulled part of my world from under me and broken my spirit—I am a good man devoted to seeing GLBT culture move forward but not everyone feels it should. Look at DADT and here it happened in our own house. I am really sorry for those of you who wanted Amazon reviews but we now know how Amazon feels about us.

You can contact me directly at alassenamos@yahoo.com.”
I look forward to a balanced accounting of the events that led up to Amazon pulling thousands of reviews (most of them about LGBT literature). In the meantime, I hope you will keep Amos Lassen in your thoughts and offer him your support in a time that must be incredibly stressful for him. Whatever the whole truth is at the bottom of this mess, one thing cannot be denied and that is that Amos Lassen is a great and loyal friend of LGBT books and the people who read them.

Rick Reed’s Contact Information

email: horrorauthor@gmail.com
website: http://www.rickrreed.com
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/?

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

62 comments

  • Guys
    I’m trying to be polite by asking that no one else post comments. I would very much appreciate it if anyone else who has anything to say on this matter could perhaps go to one of the Amazon forums. Thanks.

    Any new comments after Derrick R., other than Rick if he wants to say something, will be taken down.

    COMMENTS ON THIS POST ARE NOW CLOSED

    Reply
  • of course you never said a word Kyle because you did not participate as Kyle—you used a fake name and profile and yes the evidence was there–you provided it and under a fake name. You were not even man enough to say who you were. And Ann-Kat, the review of “I Spit On Your Grave” came two months of constant harassment from these people and it was the way I lashed back. I do not believe that you would have taken the abuse and taunts that I took as many as 20 times on a daily basis and it was ok for Kirkfield to go to my employer as a representative of Amazon and post his findings? I wonder how you would have reacted. I doubt you would have reacted the way Lambda Literary reacted (ignoring and wondering who these people were) when Erin Elway and Barbara Barclay overstepped all bounds by writing letters and saying how much they respected the organization. Give me a break–these are cutthroat and ruthless people who wanted a crucifixion and would do whatever it took to get it. Sure I lashed out bit how much is one person to take? Mea culpa? No way. And what about the letters they wrote to universities and publishing houses? And what about the smear campaign? You weren’t there, you came in three or four days ago with your self-righteousness and as you say, you don’t know me–you only know what these people have presented you with. They gave you the leads and you followed. I would love to see how you would have reacted. They overstepped every boundary of humanity. And have you noticed, Jason Kirkfield has nothing to say nor does SE. Jacobs who admitted herself that this has gone too far. Since you mean to keep it going, so du I–just not here. You have new friends now–watch how they play ball and be careful, do not cross them.
    I have nothing else to add or to say. I am closing this down and hope all of you think very carefully as you enjoy your holiday season of what you have done. Remember evil begets evil and each of you will get yours one day.

    Reply
    • Thank you Mr. Lassen. As I said before, if there are any more comments I will delete them. I appreciate your cooperation and that of everyone else.

      Reply
    • Mr. Lassen, so did you or did you not write reviews by rephrasing product descriptions and copying other sources? You say you deny the charges, but you copied New York Times reviews. That’s ballsy.

      I’m just curious about your methods and why you thought no one would notice you copying such a prominent source? These days all it takes to find out if someone is plagiarizing is to just plug a sentence into Google. You should be relieved all you got was deleted. I would just turn off the computer for a while and enjoy real life. We’re talking about lost Amazon reviews. Your situation could have legally been worse. You’re being dragged through mud because intentional plagiarism is the highest offense for a writer. It’s laziness and it’s theft. I’m sorry some egos are having a field day with your name, but that’s what happens when a thief cries foul.

      Reply
  • I think everyone has had an opportunity to have their say on this matter and I would like to close off the comments now before they get ugly.

    We have all exhausted this topic and nothing new has been offered. So, please, I would appreciate it if we leave it there.

    Thank you for coming. I now know more about this matter than I ever wanted. 🙁 Good night.

    Reply
  • I am going to say this–when Rick told me about this blog,I said great–I have not a thing to be afraid of and I still don’t. An Amazon third party was presented the evidence by this group therefore neutrality was not there. They contacted them, they presented what they had. Amazon never exchanged one word with me from the very beginning. The day all of this started, I notified Amazon and continued to do so every day as many as 15 times a day–not one email or phone call was answered or returned. I suffered abuse after abuse from these people. They did everything in their power to make me feel small. Finally it reached a point that I lashed back. They had been calling me Amos asif we were friends and I know none of these people. I was forwarded emails they sent out. I heard from writers they contacted, I was informed that Kirkfield discussed me with the president of the college where I taught–they overstepped every boundary and kept going. Kirkfield publicly stated that he would have a good holiday only after I was gone. Truthseeker ranted, Muzzlehatch gloated and “avoracius reader” spoke with the most evil tongue I have ever heard. It was obvious they were out for blood and would stop at nothing until they got it and so they went to a neutral party, Amazon legal and gave them the evidence they prepared. Did Amazon ever include me in anything? NO! The only thing I ever heard from Amazon is that my reviews were deleted and I could no longer post. Was I asked for a statement? NEVER. I reported Kirkfield when he called me a “cretin” publicly in the forum, when Nick Brett called me a “disgrace”, when E. Jacobs had a few choice words and when John Green decided the use of the word “ape” was a racial slur. Who are these people and why are they holier than God? They overstepped everything to get what they want and guess what? They are still gloating. Sure neutral–there was nothing neutral here nor were there two sides. They not only wrote with forked tongues, they showed us how small and petty they are. there was no justice here, there was no trial and like I said before they had decided how they were going to handle this entire affair. And now they gloat. Believe them if you want, let’s see how they handle their next one—read the forum, they have already discussed who it is to be. Since when to we live in a world that is controlled by vigilantes? This may be your world but it sure is not mine.

    Reply
    • Mr. Lassen,
      Why should Amazon be required to contact you before taking action when it was clear to them, when presented with evidence they could easily have ignored, that you violated their terms of use?

      Also, Amazon, regardless of who brought the evidence forward, did examine it clearly before making their decision. Why do I believe this? Look how long people have been reporting Harriet Klausner and she is still there chugging happily away.

      The difference, in your case, is that you borrowed the writings from different copyrighted sources without credit or permission in order to pad your own reviews.

      As I said in a comment on my blog, I’m not glad to see you fall even if it was your own fault. I don’t know you from Adam, and you may well be a very nice man in real life, and those people who reported you may be wolves in sheep’s clothing, but it would have been best for everyone had you just said mea culpa, apologized, and righted your wrongs.

      It truly saddens me that the GLBT and Jewish communities are included in the string of your unfortunate victims, even if they don’t yet know it.

      P.S. I’ll give it to you that being called a racist (when it’s not true) does sting and was uncalled for. Even being called a “cretin” crossed the line, but it pales in comparison to calling someone an “evil”, “disgusting”, “reprehensible piece of sh*t” and wanting to spit on her grave. As far as “disgrace” goes, I believe it perfectly reflects your actions–disgraceful. That’s just my opinion of course, feel free to disagree.

      Reply
    • The evidence was already there. Every posted review was the evidence. If these reviews could all be linked to outside sources, who is really at fault? Not the people pointing it out and not Amazon.

      With all due respect, once again, I’d never have said a word in this forum except for the inflammatory and misleading remarks that you contributed to start this discussion. Every unpleasant moment of this entire event has been fueled by a two party bickering–there is not one victim and one aggressor, no matter how one sided things are painted elsewhere. The facts have spoken for themselves.

      Reply
  • The thing is, without a neutral third party going over the evidence, it’s meaningless. Anyone can manipulate post dates. Anyone can photoshop a screenshot. Without having actual server logs and someone who knows how to look for evidence of them being altered, it’s all meaningless. How hard is it for me to open up a Blogspot or WordPress account, copy and paste one of Amos’s reviews on to it and then make the post date three years ago?

    Reply
    • But can the same be done with a NYT review? Or with reviews published directly to the Amazon website?

      I don’t know who’d go to such lengths to create an Amos Lassen Amazon account to duplicate every one of his reviews and find a way to hack their servers in order to manipulate the dates.

      ETA: Here are direct links from which I grabbed the screen shots and you will see they weren’t edited in any way by me, expect to highlight the actual content lifts:
      NYT review
      Amos Lassen’s review (it’s the third from last on the page)

      Reply
    • But William, there is a third neutral party that possessed all the evidence. That was Amazon legal which had every post, comment, and edit during this entire event recorded in its archives. And they made a ruling with that evidence. Bottom line.

      Reply
  • Smoke and mirrors and you are all falling for Amos and his spin. The truth is that he was copying a lot of his reviews. Nobody had any sort of go about his sexual leanings or faith. Here’s a lift from one of the posts. Forget all the stuff you are being fed and judge for yourself…

    Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times (October 23, 2009):

    This one is aimed at those who find the mix of religious imagery, whippings, animal blood, amateurish cinematography and moronic dialogue to be arousing. It focuses on an all-male religious order whose members seem to spend no time in spiritual reflection but quite a lot of time groping one another.

    The head guy is Father Anthony (Wilson Hand, trying hard to look like Anthony Perkins), who years earlier killed another novitiate and stuck his body in a trunk in the basement. Now gutted animals are showing up on the front lawn, and a mysterious stranger is getting everyone all hot and bothered.

    It’s hard to imagine anyone watching this attempt at a horror film without guffawing. (Or maybe it’s supposed to be a comedy?)

    Amos Lassen (September 14, 2010):

    This film is aimed at those who find the mix of religious imagery, whippings, animal blood, amateurish cinematography and moronic dialogue to be arousing. It looks at an all-male religious order whose members seem to spend no time at all in spiritual reflection but quite a lot of time groping one another.

    The head guy is Father Anthony (Wilson Hand) who years earlier killed another novitiate and stuck his body in a trunk in the basement. Now gutted animals are showing up on the front lawn, and a mysterious stranger is getting everyone all hot and bothered.

    It’s hard to imagine anyone watching this attempt at a horror film without laughing and it is not a comedy.

    After TruthSeeker first busted Amos on this one back on November 10, Amos changed the words around in the first sentence (from his original lift of “This film is aimed at those who find the mix of religious imagery, whippings, animal blood, amateurish cinematography and moronic dialogue to be arousing. It looks at an all-male religious order whose members seem to spend no time at all in spiritual reflection but quite a lot of time groping one another” to a transposition of “Religious imagery, whippings, animal blood, amateurish and poor cinematography and weak dialogue are all here as well an all-male religious order whose members seem to enjoy groping each other more than spirituality” but he was too lazy (or probably too busy deleting other busted “reviews”) to bother with the rest. He probably got the other paragraphs from IMDb.

    Reply
    • Tweedy
      This seems to be pretty clear cut to me. Even though the jury is still out, like Rick I’m sad at this whole state of affairs.

      It’s too bad that the GBLT community will be the major casualty when all the dust settles.

      Thank you for coming by.

      Reply
  • A few others have already directed you to the Amazon thread which explains how much of this happened.

    For those wanting to see some specifics along with dates, I’ve just published my own accounting of the events (I hope you don’t mind links). My post includes screen shots, so others can’t say I doctored the evidence in any way.

    I should also mention that I’m a latecomer to all of this and only toppled into the fray by chance. I don’t know Amos Lassen or any of the other reviewers. I only wrote about it because: 1) I know how it feels to have your words stolen; and 2) it turns my stomach that those Amazon reviewers are being painted as homophobic anti-Semites.

    Having read through all 33 pages of the forum thread, it’s fairly clear that they only cared about having Lassen’s *infringing* work removed. Many would have been fine to let him stay and keep reviewing as long as he edited out the bits of his reviews which used another’s words.

    Thank you for allowing this other side of the story to be expressed.

    It truly is ashame for the GLBT community to lose a loud voice, but it’s Lassen’s own fault. I only hope that someone else, more ethical, will take up the reigns and continue where Lassen could not.

    Reply
    • Thanks for stopping by Ann

      As I said earlier in the post, I haven’t had the opportunity to read any of the background information because RL has been a bitch lately.

      As a reviewer it would really upset me if someone stole my intellectual property because that’s what it would be. I don’t know the facts in this case and I will be reading the information that you have linked.

      I’m hoping that the LGBT community does not end up the loser because of what has happened. That would be the worst casualty of this sad state of affairs.

      Reply
  • I just want to say that Amos reviewed my book a few weeks after it came out and the review was clearly not plagiarized. I’m sorry the review is gone. Regardless, of where the truth lies or what people’s motivations are, an entire community of GLBT writers and readers has been damaged by the removal of his reviews. And I think that’s very sad.

    Reply
    • Marshall, what you said was really what my bottom line is and the motivating force for me wanting to write this piece.

      And Cole, thanks so much for your kind words! I’m doing very well, thanks!

      Wave: I hope you’re sharing.

      Reply
    • Marshall

      Regardless, of where the truth lies or what people’s motivations are, an entire community of GLBT writers and readers has been damaged by the removal of his reviews. And I think that’s very sad.

      As you said, therein lies the pity of it all. I understand that writers need reviews to help sell their books and that is now lost in the case of Amos’s reviews, at least on Amazon. However, I believe all of his reviews will be available on another site in a few days so that problem will be resolved.

      Reply
  • I think I’ve just fallen into a trap that is very easy to make. We all want to root for the little guy and damn the man. I have to admit to already being disillusioned by Amazon, so I naturally assumed they were at fault. I’ll not pass judgement again, for either side, no matter how damning this new evidence seems to be.

    I just wanted to say to you Rick, that even the most brilliant people are sometimes deceived, whether this has been the case or not. I know I can speak for a lot of people here who think you’re brilliant and passionate, which is why we love you and why we also hope you’re feeling better and resting up well.

    Reply
    • I’m with you 100% Cole.

      Rick has always fought for “the little guy” and I do enjoy his passion which is why I love his books. Very few writers produce such gripping horrors.

      If he has been deceived here then so have most of us who don’t know the facts of the case.

      Now I have to get me some of that red velvet cake. 🙂

      Reply

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