I have mentioned before that I get free books from Amazon as part of what is known as the Vine Programme. Every third Thursday in the month Vine Voices are sent a newsletter from which they can choose two items. This is targetted to their previous purchases and selected from the items which manufacturers and publishers allow them to have free. I buy and review more fiction than non-fiction and I hardly ever buy software or electronic gadgets from Amazon so I'm mainly offered fiction. Which suits me as free books are not to be sneezed at.
The fourth Thursday in the month we get another newsletter which contains everything left - could be books, DVDs, computer bits, software, domestic gadgets, hairdryers etc. We can choose another two items from that one as well - though sometimes they make it four instead of two. The more desirable items tend to disappear first and it's very much the luck of the draw at 8.00pm who gets what. Personally I will only pick items I'm interested in and will use or read - others seems to look just at the value.
You have to review 75% of the items you've chosen before you can pick any more - which is fair enough. There is no compulsion to review favourably so you can say what you think and the majority take a pride in their reviews and spend a fair amount of time composing them. You're not allowed to sell items you receive or to give them away so in the end you could run out of space!
Recently Vine has started to receive some bad publicity - almost certainly from people who haven't been invited to join. Such people are saying Vine Voices always give 5 star reviews and that it's all a con to foist rubbish on unsuspecting customers. But there are also people who are Vine Voices complaining they don't get offered high value items and others do. To me this is typical of society today. People want everything to be 'fair'. Why? Life isn't fair - get over it.
I usually write very calm and considered posts on the Amazon Vine forums but I've got annoyed and suggested to the whingers that if they don't like it - leave. No one is holding a gun to their head. Vine is how it is. The only people who can change it are Amazon and I don't think they should listen to the moaners - who actually seem to be in a minority anyway. As it is they're spoiling it for the rest of us. I like Vine because it means I get a chance to try new books that I might not otherwise come across. With publishers such as Granta, Faber and Bloomsbury participating it can only be a good thing for everyone.