Category Archives: Amazon Vine Voice

Amazon Vine: Looking a Gift Horse In The Mouth

Yesterday, the fourth Thursday in the month, was Amazon Vine selection day. I am a lucky member of the Amazon Vine program. As an Amazon Vine Voice, I am entitled to select about 4 free items a month that, in return, I have promised to review.

Amazon bills this program as “The Exclusive Club of Influential Amazon Voices” and while “influential” is not exactly a word I would use to describe myself, I suppose “exclusive” is correct as membership is by invitation only. I have only been a member for about three months and as a newbie, I have found the program to be  oddly idiosyncratic, stiffly bureaucratic, and yet strangely pleasurable and often amusing. 

 Getting the free stuff is the least of it.  I minimize this even though the “getting” is the arduous part. The free stuff is parceled out twice a month. The first is the third Thursday of the month.

This is when a “targeted” list of products is made available to the Vine Voice member exactly at 12 noon PST. Usually, you are allowed to pick two items. At this moment, a virtual starter gun is shot and a free for all, product grab begins. There are certain techniques for gaining access to the Vine site as soon as it opens (clicking F5 repeatedly), quick scanning of the list of items (start from the bottom of the list, that’s where the non-book products are), grabbing the item as rapidly as possible (especially when the “Only 5…4…3 left” countdown sign is flashing).

 “Targeted” is meaningless, or so it seems to me, even though Amazon claims to select these items “based upon your purchase and review history on” When I first joined Vine, I filled out a survey which asked me for my preferences in various categories of books and other products. I have never requested, purchased or reviewed baby products or child or teen oriented books yet last week’s “targeted” list included baby diapers and children’s and teen’s books.

That’s ok. I really don’t mind. There is plenty of other items to interest me. I’m in it for the writing, and for the experience…..mostly.

My targeted  list last week had 15 items. What did I pick?

Oreo peanut butter cookies and a pair of scissors.


Oreo Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Filled Cookies

Scotch Brand Precision Scissors

One of the immutable laws of Amazon Vine is that a member must have reviewed at least 75% of one’s total past Vine selection before receiving more free product to review. That means that in order to be able to receive more products a week later in the “whatever’s left” newsletter, I had about two days to write my reviews.
I liked the scissors, but the cookies….not so much. Here are my reviews.
(Note the negative vote on the scissors review awarded to multiple consecutive reviews by a fellow Vine Voice reviewer in order to receive better review placement 😦 )
So, this brings us to yesterday’s “whatever’s left” newsletter where “all available inventory from the past two newsletters” is offered. Again, one is allowed to pick two items but only if more than 75% of past picks have already been reviewed.

Luckily, I was able to be at my computer exactly at 3 pm EDT. I clicked on the link, entered my password and the newsletter opened up. I started scrolling through about 400 items.

Mostly books. Page after page of books. I love books and the program is set up for book reviewers but I don’t usually review books. I review mostly non-book items. In the Vine program the non-book items are the first to go.

 I dashed to the bottom of the list, page 29. Nope, all these items were already gone. Page 28, nope! Page 27, nope! Page 26, nope!

Shucks! The Bluetooth mouse and the water filtration pitcher were already gone.  

Hmmm….what to do? I began to feel slightly feverish. The clock was ticking and products were quickly disappearing from the list.

As far as I am concerned, I review for pleasure. I can only write about things that interest me in some way, good or bad.  Also, I am not going to grab something for the sake of it… iPad cover when I don’t own an iPad or a computer cable or a homeopathic flu remedy, for instance.

Ok, time to re-consider the situation. I took a deep breath and selected two books:

The Paris Wife: A Novel, by Paula Mclain
Mobile DNA: Finding Treasure in Junk by Haig H Kazazian

They should arrive sometime next week.
I have a lot of reading to do!

For an excellent analysis and description of the Amazon Vine Program check out Ana Mardoll’s post: ARCs for Free: Amazon Vine and the Vine Voices