Saturday, March 17, 2007

Amazon Links Revisited

I loved reading the comments on my Amazon links dilemma post and found them tremendously helpful. If only I could set up similar discussion forums for all the areas of my life where indecisiveness reigns! Especial thanks to Phantom Scribbler and Andy Laties for so clearly defining the terms of the conflict.

So upon careful reflection, it seems to me that there are two reasons to add a link to a book title in a blog post: either you want to give readers more information about the book, or you want them to be able to get their hands on the book easily, or both. I haven't found a more complete or accessible all-on-one-page source of book information than Amazon (though admittedly I haven't looked very hard, and I like Varbidian's suggestion of linking to the publisher's page), so from that standpoint Amazon seems like the way to go, all politics aside.

As to buying the book--well, mostly I get my own reading material from one library or another, and I suspect most of this blog's readers are similarly inclined. But much as I'd like to link to item records on everyone's individual library system so you can all whip out your cards (or just type in your memorized card numbers) and reserve the book, I don't think that would work very well unless you all agree to move to one metropolitan area for my convenience. (Though wouldn't it be great if there were a Booksense equivalent website for libaries? I could link to a composite item record for all libraries in the world, and you could type in your zip code and then just reserve from there...ah, well. Another project for some technological genius somewhere?)

I like Madame Esme's compromise of linking to Amazon for information, and providing a disclaimer and a link to booksense at the bottom of each post. But I suspect I'm too lazy and forgetful to include something like that every time I post about a book.

So here's my own carefully-thought-through, total-copout compromise: I'm going to link wherever I feel like. If I'm just mentioning a book and want to provide a quick link for those who want to know more about it, I'll link to Amazon or maybe the publisher if I have time. If I'm reviewing the book and want to send all dozen or two of you off to read it as fast as possible, I'll probably link to Powell's (which seems to have added a lot of features since last time I checked--they have reviews now. And a Wish List option. So maybe I'll just link to them all the time. But I'm not promising.).

And I'll add a support-independent-bookstores disclaimer and link in the sidebar, where it can compete with the chickens and booklists and archives for rare and precious eyeball attention.

There! Inconsistent, wishy-washy, and unclear! I feel better already.


Alkelda the Gleeful said...

I've linked to for the plethora of information, as you pointed out. Sometimes I'll link to an author's or illustrator's site, too, mainly if they have neat little features on their sites.

Anne said...

Sorry to be chiming in so late, but I have a few points you may not have considered:

1. All these sites have associates programs that let you earn a small commission;
2. Of these, Amazon's is by far the stingiest, starting at about 6%. Powell's and Booksense are more generous, starting (I believe--too lazy to double check) at 7%;
3. If you link to Amazon, then Amazon runs the GIF of the book cover. It doesn't eat up YOUR bandwidth. This is a big deal if you do start to build a readership and they click like crazy (which librarians do--trust me on this one)
4. B&N makes you upload the cover image to your own computer, so when you put it on your blog, you eat up precious bandwidth. You should see what Powells and Booksense do--as I said, this could become a problem as your blog grows.
5. A lot of people who click through to Amazon buy other stuff besides books. I get commissions on everything--electronics, food, and yes, inevitably, porn.

I'm not trying to sway you one way or another--just pointing out some things I've learned along the way.


bookbk said...

Oho, Anne, that *is* interesting. The only affiliate program I knew about was Amazon's, and I'd decided I didn't want to do it. But if Powells has one, that's another story...
Thanks for the info!

DawnOfTheRead said...

Aw man! I've been linking to Powells for YEARS and didn't know they had a partnership program. I just signed up all my blogs.

Sara said...

Just discovered your blog thanks to your post on The Boy in The Striped Pajamas (and I completely agree, by the way)...

but another idea for the title links -- I link to Open Worldcat (, so that all the reader need do is enter their zip code and they can find a library system near them that has the book.