Important subject this and one that has been exercising me for some time.
When I first established ACHUKA in 1997 our buy-me links went to Bookpages, a UK online bookseller that was soon bought up by Amazon. My ‘affiliate’ status moved to Amazon automatically.
For most of the time since then I have been happy with the arrangement. Amazon has been an extremely efficient online seller. But more importantly the affiliate scheme it runs is managed directly from the Amazon website, which makes adding links to books and other items incredibly easy to execute.
In my experience all other affiliate schemes are much more complicated, because you have to go through third parties. (I have made this point previously.)
I introduced Watertstones links alongside Amazon links on ACHUKA’s book pages a year ago. I would very much like to move to a position where I could eliminate the Amazon links and have an exclusive affiliateship with Waterstones.
But this wouldn’t make Keith Smith – who has raised this issue in The Bookseller – happy either, because he views support for Waterstones (as opposed to support for “independent bookshops”) as being just as pernicious.
I can’t agree with that.
Waterstones does need support. It’s important for the booktrade that it survives.
But as long as Amazon can provide a significantly slicker and more efficient online trading experience it’s unlikely that I, or authors who want a quick and simple method of making their titles buyable from their websites, are going to be in a position to cut them out of the equation.
Several publishers and authors have told The Bookseller that they are in the process of changing their author websites to link to independent booksellers, after a protest over author sites that link to Amazon or chain retailers.
Keith Smith from Warwick & Kenilworth bookshops has expressed anger at the issue in a piece for The Bookseller. Smith cited the websites for Joanne Harris, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Alison Weir and Julia Donaldson as among those that link directly to Amazon, while those for Kate Morton, Ian Rankin, Tom Holland and Patrick Ness link to Amazon or chain retailers.
Smith said: “As someone who owns two independent bookshops I feel angry that these authors, unthinkingly or by design, have chosen to support Amazon, W H Smith or Waterstones without giving a fig for independent bookshops. Many of these are authors who, when asked, will say they couldn’t imagine life without their local bookshop. But words need to be matched by deeds if they are to make a difference.”