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Janitor On Duty

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April 8th, 2009

3:50 PM

Amazon Kindle and Affiliates

Call me slow but I just learned today that Amazon had, for a while now, quietly removed Kindle books as part of the things sold that are eligible for commissions to its affiliates. You can check out the affiliate general discussion forum if you are an affiliate - folks are talking about it. I've already removed the link to their Kindle stuff at the Amazon Astore thingy of mine. My Web connection is still on the slow and unstable side (don't get me started about that), so I guess I can only add "change all the links to Amazon Kindle books on website" to my to-do list once my Web connection is back to normal.

Amazon isn't coming out with reasons as to why they are not allowing affiliates to get a small share of the Kindle pie, but rumor has it that this is because they are actually making a loss on each Kindle book sold to customers. Is this even possible? I can't imagine anyone actually running a business on a loss, but then again, we are talking about the Web here, heh.

A more believable possible reason, to me, is that Amazon has decided that Kindle is popular enough and therefore they don't need crummy affiliates to take away their share of the moolah.

But that's all guesses and hearsay anyway.

10 comment(s).

Posted by EmmyG:

Taking a loss? I wish I could remember the source right off hand, but there was an article not too long ago about how well Kindle books are selling. I've also heard authors talking about their books doing well on Kindle, so I don't believe Amazon is taking a loss.
April 8th, 2009 @ 9:45 PM

Posted by Mrs G:

Thanks, meh, for that info. EmmyG, I don't believe Amazon is taking a loss either but that's one rumor being bandied about in the affiliate forums.

Still, Kindle books barely register on sales where my website is concerned, so this matter really doesn't bother me too much. I just hate the work needed to change some links!
April 8th, 2009 @ 10:00 PM

Posted by meh:

EmmyG - "well" is relative. For niche categories, only the top 10 or so books in a category are selling more than 50 copies a month. The difference in units moved for #1 out of a 1000 and #15 out of a 1000, for example, can be black/white, night/day. Even for the larger categories, ranking in the top 50 doesn't translate into a lot of units moved. Since many titles at the bottom of the category aren't moving any units, there's a lot more room between rankings. For overall sales ranking in the kindle store, anything with a number bigger than #15,000 is moving, based on my experience, less than 50 units a month. So, again, most of the sales are coming from the titles that Amazon has the 30% margin on, a portion of which they use to run discounts/sales on. However, it seems like they could, as an alternative to giving affiliates zero on kindle titles, come up with a smaller affiliate percentage on them instead.
April 9th, 2009 @ 3:25 AM

Posted by meh:

maybe veinglory can start a separate money report...having kindle authors submit their rankings and units sold.
April 9th, 2009 @ 3:26 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

Interesting. Given the numbers that Kindle have apparently sold, then what exactly are the books these owners are buying? Non-fiction?

Still the numbers are a sobering reminder that the "ebook revolution" still has a considerable distance to go before becoming a reality.
April 9th, 2009 @ 7:49 AM

Posted by Angela James:

EmmyG - "well" is relative. For niche categories, only the top 10 or so books in a category are selling more than 50 copies a month.

I'm not sure where you're getting your info from, but out of curiousity I popped open my royalty statement for January Kindle sales and there are far more than 10 books with well-over sales of 50 on my statement alone. I can easily say I would notice a difference on my final total if Kindle wasn't on there.

Kindle says they're operating at a loss, I think, because they discount the higher priced books, like HC, so deeply, far below their own profit margin, in order to draw customers. Those 9.99 prices aren't making them money.
April 9th, 2009 @ 10:07 PM

Posted by meh:

Angela, I said "For niche categories, only the top 10 or so books in a category are selling more than 50 copies a month." Are you saying samhain's kindle sales are in "niche" categories?

I also said those with kindle store rankings worse than 15,000. So, since I don't know which authors you edit, let's look at Annmarie McKenna's Blackmailed as a Samhain title...it's currently 3,460 in the Kindle store, very nice! Checkmate is holding strong at 2,317! Seeing Eyemate 2 and a half years after release still is showing a very nice ranking (among 250k or so kindle titles) at better than 7,000. So, yes, with those rankings all better than 15,000 in the store, I do imagine they sell well over 50 units a month. None of that contradicts what I said.

My source? You are looking at January Kindle sales, do you have January store rankings at hand? I am looking at real time sales as compared against real time rankings in the store by total store comparison, and according to category rankings within the store. Albeit for far fewer titles than you have access to.
April 9th, 2009 @ 10:43 PM

Posted by Teddypig:

You know I never made that much from being an associate really. Less than I made doing epinions all those years ago anyhow.

The only thing that would cheese me off is killing the links.
April 9th, 2009 @ 11:29 PM

Posted by EmmyG:

meh, When I made the statement you quoted, I wasn't looking at any concrete figures. I was going by what I've read around the author blogs and forums. "Well" can be a relative term, meaning that some authors might think 50 copies a month is "doing well" while others might not. I stand corrected if my comment was misleading.
I went looking for the article that I had read and found the link. It's from the Wall Street Journal digital network. http://online.barrons.com/article/SB123819715466061661.html?mod=googlenews_barrons
April 10th, 2009 @ 3:28 AM

Posted by meh:

Emmy, I didn't think your statement was misleading. Just wanted to add some additional context to the discussion. I hear a lot of authors say such and such a publisher has "great sales" or such and such a distribution channel srsly delivers. When they're probed, I generally find they have a different definition than I do.

Thanks for the link. Interesting statement relative to Angela's observation on Amazon's subsidizing cost of some books. "If Amazon can build a big Kindle user base, it could raise barriers to entry in the eBook market, lower per-book marketing costs, reduce fulfillment costs, and increase revenue -- all of which would lead to higher margins..." So they're intentionally losing money short-term to make more money long-term.
April 10th, 2009 @ 3:47 AM