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Topic: Amazon Now Taking Steps to Discourage Free Kindle eBook Sites

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Subject: Amazon Now Taking Steps to Discourage Free Kindle eBook Sites
Date Posted: 2/22/2013 10:49 AM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
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We may see some of our favorite Kindle-freebie sites have to change the way they do business next month. Amazon wants to crack down on those affiliates who use the lure of Free Books to generate income Amazon didn't really intend them to received.

Which could mean we see more Paid Book adds on the sites, or more emails with them, so they can keep their stats between Freebies and Paid even out a bit more.

Here.

Loophole? What loophole?

Let me explain. There are a number of websites that direct you to free Kindle ebooks not because they want you to download the free ebook but because they hope that you’ll buy something else while on an Amazon website.

All of these sites are not using Amazon’s affiliate system for its intended purpose (advertising a product sold on Amazon), but to instead promote a free product in the hopes that they can pick up an affiliate fee or sales commission on a product they didn’t promote.

Amazon naturally thinks that the sites I describe above are gaming the system, and they’re not going to let the bigger sites get away with it anymore. Starting in March a website that promotes Kindle ebooks is going to have promote more paid Kindle ebooks or it won’t make any money in a given month.

Luckily this will only affect the larger sites, and possibly not even all of them.

Date Posted: 2/22/2013 11:10 AM ET
Member Since: 10/7/2007
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Those sites are where I get most of my ebooks....  sigh

Date Posted: 2/22/2013 12:56 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
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They must hate me, as I've never bought one single thing from them AND usually I write down the titles, then go to amazon when I get home to download them.. They get $0 from me..LOL More likely to link from PBS then from a free book site.

Date Posted: 2/22/2013 2:10 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
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They get $0 from me..LOL More likely to link from PBS then from a free book site.

I've bought a few from them, when I remember to. Frankly, by the time I've browsed and price checked and all that, I forget to go through any site in particular. So they probably aren't happy with me either, although I did just buy a membership a couple of months ago.

Too bad they have to push more Paid books, but can't say it's unexpected.

Date Posted: 2/22/2013 5:07 PM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2006
Posts: 8,426
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So from this point, if I browse on eReaderIQ, I need to NOT open a link for a book but instead read the title, go to Amazon on my own and type it in. That way it won't negatively affect their ratio of free to paid?

Date Posted: 2/22/2013 6:25 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
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So from this point, if I browse on eReaderIQ, I need to NOT open a link for a book but instead read the title, go to Amazon on my own and type it in. That way it won't negatively affect their ratio of free to paid?

That's how I figure it would work.

That might give them a break if enough people did it.

 

Date Posted: 2/22/2013 7:10 PM ET
Member Since: 2/12/2008
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"So from this point, if I browse on eReaderIQ, I need to NOT open a link for a book but instead read the title, go to Amazon on my own and type it in. That way it won't negatively affect their ratio of free to paid?" 


It would actually be a good idea for them to just post a DIRECT link to the eBook, rather than an affiliate link. Or no link at all. At least we have a heads up, so eReaderIQ won't get dinged by us.


I stopped collecting free Kindle books a while ago. I had over 1000+ free titles. MOST of them I knew
were substandard reading material that was self-published as no legitimate publisher with standards would publish them. I just collected them BECAUSE they were free. In fact, a few that I read were so badly written, that I was turned off of reading for a while. The massive collection also basically paralyzed me. I had too many eBooks and not ones I was passionate about reading. It was like looking through a full fridge and not finding anything to eat that's going to hit the spot.

I finally ruthlessly culled and purged some of those free Kindle books. I am down to about 500 now. I still don't know if I will read any of them. I now have just been going to the library to download eBooks instead. Most are the best sellers and books I really am interested in reading. None have been keepers, so no problem in wanting my own copy. I never thought I'd say this, but too much of something really wasn't a good thing after all.

 

 

 

Date Posted: 2/22/2013 8:22 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2006
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I've run across a few gems in their freebies but for the most part, they are not up to publisher grade reads.

Date Posted: 2/23/2013 9:08 AM ET
Member Since: 4/22/2005
Posts: 5,556
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I have tons of free books and have found some wonderful gems on eReaderIQ that I probably never would have found otherwise. Being free, and liking the author, lead me to purchase other books in the series the author has written. Granted there are a lot of badly written books out there by indie authors, but I've been relatively pleased with most of the ones I've read so far. I would hate to see the sites for free books go away and have to dig for hours on Amazon to find them.

Date Posted: 2/23/2013 11:28 AM ET
Member Since: 10/7/2007
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Those Gems are far & few between ....     LOL      I think Amazon should List their Own Freebies not make it so hard for people to find them.  Lots of times when I do find something I really like I go back & buy the Rest of the Authors works.  So to me when I do find that rare gem its a win-win for Amazon.

Date Posted: 2/23/2013 2:22 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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I'm not sure if it's possible but it seems like a simple fix for the websites would be to remove the affiliate links for the free books and just use ordinary links.  Some of the sites would go away due to lack of revenue but sites like EreaderIQ would still draw a lot of revenue for the paid e-books they advertise.

The massive amount of free books is good in theory, but in practice, I just scan through the list of books to find stuff I already recognize like mainstream authors self-publishing their own backlists or promotions by the traditional publishers.

Date Posted: 2/24/2013 2:24 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
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I'm not sure if it's possible but it seems like a simple fix for the websites would be to remove the affiliate links for the free books and just use ordinary links.

I think this would be the easiest thing for them to do. After reading a discussion Here, I have to say I didn't realize that the affilate cookies last so long.

If I'm reading this right, when you click on an Affilate link, the cookie they leave identifies all your Amazon purchases for 24 hours as from their sales. Unless you click on another link that overwrites it.

I can see Amazon not wanting to let affiliates get paid for books purchased during a 24 hour period off of one link. For the one purchase, yes. But if I'm just browsing on my own for the rest of the day? No.

The massive amount of free books is good in theory, but in practice, I just scan through the list of books to find stuff I already recognize like mainstream authors self-publishing their own backlists or promotions by the traditional publishers.

Some days I don't get any at all, other days I might get four or five depending on what's on offer. I collected a lot at first, but it was all stuff I had an interest in. Now I've seen those first few books posted free about once every three months, so already have the ones I was interested in.

It's been good for my Sherlock Holmes collection, though. It seems now everyone wants to post their 10-27 page Sherlock Holmes story for a dollar. I pass on getting those, because in most cases the free Fanfic is better. And longer. I'm not a short story fan, and usually only pick them up in collections if they're not fanfic. But several 99cent stories on my "Watch" list have turned up free. Since I now have them, I might read them, but mainly it's nice not to have them pop up in the recommendations lists over and over.

And I've now got the first book of a Mycroft Holmes series that interested me, but not enough to actually buy one. It just came up free yesterday.

 

Date Posted: 2/26/2013 8:56 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
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I find better freebies by just going to Amazon myself and looking at the top 100 lists.  I scroll quickly through for author names I recognize.  I've collected quite a few freebie older romances and mysteries from established authors that way. 

Date Posted: 2/26/2013 10:27 AM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
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I find better freebies by just going to Amazon myself and looking at the top 100 lists.

I think it all depends on what you're looking for. I keep an eye on the top 100 lists, but frankly over the year have found very little I'm interested in. Or don't already have from months ago.

They don't change very often.

I find eReaderiq so much better. There's been some stuff from established authors there, as well as some good stuff by not so well know writers.

I'd rather have a list to chose from with all the free books, and not just the popular ones. The popular lists have never really represented my interests.

Date Posted: 2/26/2013 11:45 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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I can see Amazon not wanting to let affiliates get paid for books purchased during a 24 hour period off of one link. For the one purchase, yes. But if I'm just browsing on my own for the rest of the day? No.

You'd think that Amazon would change those specific rules instead of the free book limits they're imposing.  Say, make the cookie last only an hour or be only good for the item linked to.  Even just geting rid of the 20,000 limit would help a lot!

On one of the bargain kindle book sites, they said the rules go into effect on Friday, but Amazon won't give the affiliates any data on how many free books are purchased via the affiliate links, nor will they give the ratio of free to paid.  It said that Amazon HOPED to have a report for that data by the day the rules change, but how can people plan for the future if they don't know their stats currently?

20,000 free books sounds like a lot but it really isn't when you look at the size of the audiences of some of these sites.  Especially if I can look at one paid book in the morning, and then buy a couple of classics in the afternoon on my own, and those classics count against them just as much as a book they linked to directly.

Say, for whatever reason, something as popular as Twilight got put up for free...  How many thousands of downloads would just that one book cause off a single major site?

Date Posted: 2/26/2013 12:36 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
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Say, for whatever reason, something as popular as Twilight got put up for free...  How many thousands of downloads would just that one book cause off a single major site?

Many more than they'd want counted against them, I'm sure!

I think for several of the sites that offer access to non-free books, their answer would be simply to remove their affiliate link to the freebies. They can still list them, AFAIK, but going to Amazon through a generic link wouldn't connect the download to their site.

eReaderiq, for example, has ways to search recent price drops, what's new at Amazon, and price watches for people's WL'd books at Amazon. For example, I've got several books that are too high for me right now. I've listed them at the stie, and what price I'm willing to buy the books at, and they keep watch and let me know when the book drops to that price. When it does, I buy it through their link.

(Which is handy, because Amazon really fails to keep me updated on series I've purchased books from before. I can't tell you how many times I find a new book in a series I like by accident instead of Amazon's recommendation page. Don't know what's up with that.)

They have other ways to offer books that make them money besides just getting people there for the freebies. Unlinking the freebies from their download count shouldn't hurt them at all with their customers, and would keep the books from counting against them.

Unless that would be against some Amazon rules I don't know about.

Date Posted: 2/26/2013 1:30 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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I guess it really depends on how the affiliates thing works.  I haven't heard too much about the technical details.  Is it a cookie that works browser wide? Is it only in effect for that single tab, as long as the tab stays open and on Amazon? Is it just that extra bit that gets added to the link and no cookie at all?  The 24 hr thing makes me think that a cookie has to be involved somehow, since you can set expiration dates on those.  Removing the affiliates links will help a lot but if it's a cookie, it might not help as much as one would hope, since the affiliates thing would already be in the browser. 

I can't tell you how many times I find a new book in a series I like by accident instead of Amazon's recommendation page. Don't know what's up with that.

I shop mostly sales on Kindle books.  Amazon's recs used to be nearly spot on but the last year or so, I've noticed that I keep getting recommended books that were on sale at the same time the book I bought was on sale.  Their recommendation engine needs a lot of work for it to be useful! 

Date Posted: 2/26/2013 9:43 PM ET
Member Since: 2/12/2008
Posts: 4,470
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"Removing the affiliates links will help a lot but if it's a cookie, it might not help as much as one would hope, since the affiliates thing would already be in the browser. " 


I wonder if they can just add a button on the free eBook pages to "Log out before clicking on any free eBooks." This way, the cookies are cleared and they don't get dinged for the free purchases.

Date Posted: 2/27/2013 11:46 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
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Books on the Knob just announced that she will no longer list Amazon freebies, and has removed prior posts. She tried to set up a second Blog just for the freebies, not linked to her Amazon account and Amazon blocked this go around.
Date Posted: 2/28/2013 1:05 AM ET
Member Since: 2/12/2008
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I just came to also post that Books On The Knob posted an announcement. She also warned to PLEASE clear your cookies so that ANY affiliate you happened to have visited that day doesn't get hurt by being associated with your FREE Amazon purchases. frown

Here's her post: 

Free Books Posts are Ended

 
In order to comply with Amazon's new policy, I won't be mentioning any free books on my blogs (at least, until their policy changes). Amazon has changed the associates policy to penalize any site whose readers buy "too many" free books in a month by forfeiting their entire income for that month.

I tried to set up the ability to post on another account, that simply would not be paid, but Amazon has said that doing so would result in my accounts being closed entirely. Although some readers have suggested that the links be posted without an affiliate tag, all this does is pushes any credit for that book to the last affiliate site you have been to. This also applies even if you go to Amazon on your own and enter the book in a search there. That Associate might be me or it may be some other hardworking associate whose site you were at earlier in the day.

Amazon Associates Support has also said that if you post links without tags, even on another site, if they can link you in any way, then they'll shut down your account. So, there will no longer be any links to free books at Amazon on any of my sites.

Tomorrow I'll be removing all older free book posts and moving them to an archive site. The Free Books page and links on the menus have already been removed.

If you are going to buy free books at Amazon, please consider clearing your browser cookies before doing so, after arriving at Amazon, in order to avoid costing this site or any other affiliate site their income at Amazon (to clear your cookies, press Ctrl-Shift-Delete, then choose Cookies from the page that is displayed).

 

Direct link: http://blog.booksontheknob.org/2013/02/free-books-posts-are-ended.html 

 

 

Date Posted: 2/28/2013 10:38 AM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2006
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Just one more reason why I hate Amazon.

Date Posted: 2/28/2013 11:48 AM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
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It's nothing new. This type of reward for following a link has been around since well 2000 and earlier.   Started off with click the link, the website gets money, then moved to only if they buy something from that link.  Then others restricted what ads you could have and what you could display. 
What Amazon is doing, been done before, as it does not make any business sense for them, why reward those who aren't bringing the sales..
BUT it also shows us how much those sites are tracking what we do, and getting money from us without us even knowing about it.

If these blogs are so worried about Amazon, then don't do try to make money from people coming to your website. (please dont hound me about costs of running one.  Been there done that, and never used anything like Amazon or click to pay ads)

Date Posted: 2/28/2013 12:44 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
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I don't think Amazon should have to pay these sites for the freebies either.

Date Posted: 3/2/2013 10:19 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
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I don't think I'm following this discussion very well. Can someone please help clarify? 

If I am browing here on PBS, click on one of those "Buy on Amazon" links, and within 24 hours download a free Kindle ebook from Amazon, I might be inadvertently doing something that harms PBS's affiliate commissions for that month?

Wondering if TPTB need to let members know about this.  

Date Posted: 3/2/2013 10:51 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
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Amazon is now keeping track of the freebies vs the paid material. They have stated that they will not be giving the percentage to "associates" that have too many freebies. PBS gets a small percentage from the sales when we use the link. If the freebies are too high, then we risk losing that.

I think this means the link is saved as a cookie, so we need to clear the cookies before downloading freebies.

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