Many of the topics I write about come from the books I have read. Some of the subjects relate to academic papers and reports but I do love to read and there are some fantastic non-fiction books out there. Since the Blokeology website was created I’ve always used Amazon affiliate links when I’ve mentioned books. That’s straight out of the standard bloggers’ playbook and is a generally accepted part of how many website monetise their activities. Nothing particularly weird or unusual about it.
I’ve never felt entirely comfortable with it.
There are two different topics here so I’m going to be careful not to conflate them.
Amazon dominance in book selling
We all love the convenience but it’s difficult not to have nagging concerns about the total dominance of Amazon in the book market. I co-wrote The Healthy Writer° with Joanna Penn (there are, quite properly and reasonably, affiliate links on Joanna’s page) and she has adopted a policy of ‘going wide’. That is, she has published her books on a variety of platforms and hasn’t tied herself into Amazon exclusivity. The Healthy Writer is available everywhere. She has done that for reasons of principle but also for very sound business reasons – having all your eggs in one basket is a risky strategy when it is your livelihood. Amazon could change their terms and conditions including something as critical as royalty rates whenever they wished.
I’ve realised that I have fallen into using Amazon links without giving it too much thought. When I mention books it is important to me that I don’t accidentally give the impression that Amazon is the only place to buy books. There are many online alternatives and it is tremendously easy for you to tap in the name of a book or the author into any website. You don’t need a link from me.
And, of course, there are some other rather wonderful places with books – actual real-life bookshops and libraries as well. They need support.
So, I’m going to be a little more thoughtful about book links. Sometimes, they might be to other reviews. It might be the publisher’s page or the author’s website. Sometimes, it might be to secondhand book stores or other retailers. I’ll also make use of books2read.com which offers an easy way to link to a book and it shows up all the online stores, not just Amazon, where it is available. I’m going to mix it up.
It’s just a little thing but it feels right.
Affiliate links and making money
I’ve absolutely no problem with people making money through the content they create, as part of their businesses, and I fully appreciate that for many it is an essential element of their model.
However, at this moment in time, it doesn’t feel like the right way for me to go.
So, as part of my decision about Amazon books links, I’m no longer going to use Amazon affiliate links either. I’m not going to use any affiliates at all. I want people to be able to visit the site and not think about whether they have any concerns about that kind of concern. If the site and podcast take up more of my time or other opportunities present themselves then I’ll let you know. Full disclosure and all that. I’m quite attracted to a Patreon° model but that’s for the future. (I will add that it is not feasible for me to go back and remove all the old affiliate links but I will update them when I can.)