Amazon have updated their Associate terms and conditions, and it looks like they’re trying to push back the tide of free books.
With the launch of the KDP Select program a little over a year ago, Amazon opened the flood gates, drowning the Kindle store with free books. No doubt at the time it seemed like a great idea, encouraging publishers and authors to grant exclusivity to the book giant in return for an amazing promotional opportunity.
But then the free book sites start popping up. Ostensibly aimed at helping authors get their free books found in an ever rising sea of zero priced offerings, these sites used Amazon Associates affiliate links to earn commissions on anything purchased after a visitor clicked through from a free book link.
Amazon have created a monster though. Why buy books when there are always hundreds to choose from for free on any given day? Let’s face it, who hasn’t filled up their ereader with a pile of books that didn’t cost a cent? Never mind that most of them go unread, they inevitably take away from paid sales.
Now it seems, Amazon have had enough. Too many free books are spoiling their business. So how to get punters paying again? By starving the promo sites of their life-blood, the affiliate commissions paid out following clicks from links to freebies. The updated terms take effect from 1st March. They don’t prohibit linking to free promo books, but too many clicks on such links will see the associate account forfeit their commissions.
As a result, operators of the larger sites I’ve spoken to suggest they will be changing their model quickly, taking focus away from free and onto bargain books and discounts.
For writers, this has to be good news. There’s no doubt it is harder to sell into a market devalued by an abundance of product at no charge. Readers need to be re-educated, to get back into the habit of paying for books. Deep discounting and other promotional offers give everyone in the chain, from author to affiliate to Amazon themselves, the chance to earn an honest payout from their work in selling books.