Ever since Amazon opened the Kindle Store they have been using free ebooks as loss-leaders. The free ebooks were used to draw in as many customers as possible in the hopes that they would stick around and buy more ebooks. And thanks to Amazon's passion for encouraging affiliate marketing, a whole host of sites have sprung up to find and introduce you to those free ebooks.
Unfortunately that is probably going to change soon.
Starting on 1 March, Amazon is going to start checking to see if an affiliate is encouraging people to download "too many" free ebooks, and if anyone who crosses over the threshold will lose the affiliate fees for that month.
The new threshold has 2 components. According to Amazon, they will block a payment to an affiliate for any month where:
- At least 80% of all Kindle eBooks ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links are free Kindle eBooks
- 20,000 or more free Kindle eBooks are ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links
Amazon says that fewer than a tenth of a percent of affiliates, and they could well be correct. But no matter how many sites are affected, what's really going on here is that Amazon is closing a lucrative loophole in the affiliate program.
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.