Clearly there is no justification for authors paying for reviews—it is a fraud being perpetrated against the paying public. However, perhaps traditional publishers should pause for a moment of quiet reflection and humility? I doubt any established publisher would be as gauche as to pay cash money in return for book reviews but they do have a more subtle, codified model of rewards for reviews, from free books to parties.
It’s worth remembering that reviews have always been a commoditised market…
Next, let’s talk about how relationships and professional connections are commodified by the model.