It's always been easy to post a review on Amazon; simply jot down a few sentences, select a star rating, and you're done. It's so easy to post a review, in fact, that it's also easy to miss important details.
That doesn't help readers, and it doesn't help Amazon, which is why Amazon has added more options. In addition to the star rating, Amazon has added extra dropdown menus which invite reviewers to describe the quality of the writing, the amount of sex and violence in the book, and other details.
The new review system was first noticed by Self Publishing Review, which notes that:
At the bottom of the page it says: “Write your reviews using the traditional review authoring page” so this is a beta system. Time will tell if this will be helpful and/or abused. It could potentially lead to a more reviews, as it caters to people who might have trouble articulating themselves. Perhaps it will lessen the number of reviews saying “Loved it” or “Hated it” as the total review. Or, worse, those people who write reviews like, “This arrived to me undamaged.”
The new description options are optional if you want to simply leave a star rating or a text review, but I don't think Amazon has worked out all the bugs.
I tried to leave a review, and after I rated the writing quality and then decided not to rate, I was stuck with no option but to use that rating (or start over). I couldn't finish the review without selecting an option from each of the dropdown menus.
Luckily I was able to get around that issue by resetting the page and simply starting over.
All in all, this is a good move on the part of Amazon. I'm sure I'm not the only reader who has put down a book in frustration with the writing style, tone, or amount of extraneous sex or violence. By offering specific prompts for these areas of concern, Amazon is helping readers make more informed decisions.
That said, I would hope that Amazon's next move will be to make it easier to start a review. Currently you have to navigate to a book's listing, then open the "all reviews" page, and finally click a button so you can write a review.
It would be nice if I didn't have to dig so deep; perhaps Amazon could include a link in the sales email, or perhaps a button on the book's listing page.
Edit: Scott Lewis pointed out in the comments that there is a link on the book's listing page; it's just way the heck down at the bottom of the page (that's why I had never seen it).