Amazon Pulls the Plug on Review Data

I just got word this morning that, as of November 8, developers will no longer have direct API access to the Amazon ratings and review information (the “Reviews response group” in Amazon’s API parlance). In one fell swoop, this kills my AmaZoom search engine. I’m guessing there are a few other sites out there that will suffer similarly. There’s no mention in the attached email as to a rationale:

Dear Product Advertising API Developer,

On November 8, 2010 the Reviews response group of the Product Advertising API will no longer return customer reviews content and instead will return a link to customer reviews content hosted on Amazon.com. You will be able to display customer reviews on your site using that link. Please refer to the Product Advertising API Developer guide found here for more details. The Reviews response group will continue to function as before until November 8 and the new link to customer reviews is available to you now through the Product Advertising API as well.

Thank you for advertising products for sale on Amazon.com.

Sincerely,

The Product Advertising API Team

I probably signed away several thousand rights when I clicked on “Agree” to join the Amazon Associates program so I suspect they are well within their rights to discontinue this service. Nevertheless, it does seems a bit unfair of them to entice developers with a powerful, open API and then disable a major component. They might argue they’re not “disabling” access to reviews, but rather changing to an indirect model (after Nov 8 they’ll provide a URL to their own hosting of review content). But for sites like mine, which add value by selectively mining the best reviewed products, this change from direct to indirect access effectively makes their review data (and our services) completely unusable.

4 thoughts on “Amazon Pulls the Plug on Review Data”

  1. Are you sure this will stop your service entirely? It seems that the review ratings and meta info will still be available, but the actual content will be served up via iframes. Is there a way to make use of the rating data as before?

  2. FWIW they torpedoed me as well. Displaying reviews in a unique manner was key. The iframe HTML they serve is a joke and just a mess. Totally unusable.

  3. its really bad that they stopped the ratings in the api. I think this was a good way for customers to choose a product… but is there any information, how the iframe solution is implemented? I could not find anything yet… :(

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