Say Good-Bye to Book and eBook Bloggers – Amazon Has Changed the Fee Schedule for Its Affiliate Program
Amazon decided this week that they don’t need their affiliates to drive sales anymore.
The retailer sent out an email to web publishers who belonged to the Amazon Associate program this week. You can find the email at the end of the post, but the short version is that Amazon is cutting the commissions it is paying on sales generated by the affiliates.
Under the old system, well, it was complicated.
Certain product categories paid specific commissions – Kindles and Fire tablets earned 4%, for example – while the bulk of the merchandise had a variable commission which increased as an associate sold more items (your first commission on a sale was 4%, the seventh as 6%, and the 631st was 8%, etc – more details here).
Under the new system Amazon is doing away with the variable commissions. Instead, all products will earn a flat commission based on its category. An Amazon affiliate will still earn 4% from Kindles and Fire tablets, while gift cards earn nothing and paper books will earn 4.5%.
The new rules will take effect on 1 March, and you can read about the new program here.
O O O
When Amazon changed the affiliate program in the past, it was usually easy to see why. In 2013, for example, Amazon took steps to discourage sites from promoting free ebook downloads. And last year Amazon brought the hammer down on free ebook newsletters shortly before launching its competing service.
Now Amazon has removed the incentive for affiliates to be as active as possible in promoting goods sold on Amazon. Instead, the retailer is now paying a flat commission.
Amazon is saying that they don’t want to pay as much they used to; they no longer value the more active affiliates. That is their right; Amazon is in business to make money, and I can understand why they made this decision.
But I can also foresee that this change in policy will impact sites which depended on Amazon’s affiliate program for income.
I have been crunching my numbers, and I expect to lose about a fifth of my Amazon affiliate income. That’s going to hurt, and I won’t be the only one to feel the pinch.
There’s going to be a winnowing of book review blogs on par with the demise of book industry blogs last year. Book bloggers are going to look at their falling income, consider how much time it takes to read and review books, and decide that it is no longer worth keeping up the blog.
The smarter bloggers will find new sources of income (perhaps charging fees to authors) but many will decide their blog is no longer worth the effort.
And that is something authors will need to keep in mind as they plan their book launches for 2017.
That blogger you had planned to work with in June, September, or November might have thrown in the towel by the time that your book launch rolls around.
It would be a good idea to plan for backups.
Dear Amazon Associate,
We are writing to notify you of some changes to the Amazon Associates Program effective March 1, 2017. Changes include, but are not limited to: promotional rate changes, revisions to program policies, and updates to the Fee Statement. For more information about the Fee Statement changes, please find additional context below.
– What are the Fee Statement changes?
We will be updating the Fee Statement. The new plan simplifies our fee structure, removes all earnings caps on PC products and eliminates volume tiers.
– Why are we applying those changes?
We have received feedback from associates that the advertising fee structure could be made clearer, especially with respect to understanding which products are in fixed-fee categories and which products are in tiered-fee categories. These changes simplify the fee structure, clearly defining the advertising fees you can earn by referring traffic to Amazon. By offering higher advertising fees in certain categories, we want to reward associates that can refer sales across those categories.
– What’s on the horizon?
In addition to earning advertising fees for referring product sales, remember that you can also earn bounties for referring your visitors to a range of other Amazon services, including Prime Video, Prime Music and Kindle Unlimited. We will be adding additional bounty opportunities this year, as well special promotions throughout the year. Please visit https://affiliate-program.
The Amazon Associates Team
image by MikeBlogs
Maria (BearMountainBooks) February 24, 2017 um 6:06 pm
Yeah, I was pretty bummed by this. I list a lot of bargain books and while many are only 99 cents, the blog is a source of income for me, helping even out my own book sale income. It takes a minimum of 15 minutes a day to do a blog post (I often post more than one book, but even with a single book, unless I have it chosen beforehand, it can be time consuming to locate an appropriate book). I don’t make much money each month, but it was enough to spend the time doing the bargain books. Now…it might not be. Many bargain sites are already making their money via the authors, but the affiliate income was always great to have. I’m an affiliate for Kobo, Walmart and a couple of other sites–but they don’t have the same large number of online shoppers compared to Amazon. I think they’ve been hinting over the years that the good times are going, going gone. Who needs an affiliate when you have people buying Dots and echoes and ordering direct?
Nate Hoffelder February 25, 2017 um 1:45 pm
Indeed, I didn’t even bother with other affiliate programs because Amazon’s program was so remunerative.
Purple lady February 24, 2017 um 6:59 pm
The change is due to Amazon associates – didn’t you notice that fact in the email? It reminds me of the company I used to work for. Anytime there was a change that would negatively affect us, especially our income, they would say that we asked for it in the yearly surveys they did.
They put it pretty much the same as in your email above.
"Why are we applying those changes?
We have received feedback from associates that the advertising fee structure could be made clearer… "
Nate Hoffelder February 25, 2017 um 1:44 pm
That is obviously BS, but it’s still funny.
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Ros Jackson February 27, 2017 um 7:25 am
I don’t think the affiliate income is anything more than gravy to many book bloggers. Nice to have, but book blogging tends to take a lot of time and effort and costs more than it pays out. I recall Wendy Darling posting something to that effect a few years ago; it’s also something I’ve heard said by other reasonably well known genre book bloggers at various conventions.
Lemondrop February 27, 2017 um 7:46 am
Ebook blogs are shutting down already. This won’t help. Amazon is turning indie publishing into its own little private backwater where it can treat authors exactly how it wants (badly) because it’s the only game and town. It doesn’t need to be nice. The Amazon indie-publishing dream is not over but is turning darker. It was too be expected. Lots of people wanted to believe Amazaon was altruistic and a force for good in the publishing world. Well it ain’t, and we’re seeing it more and more. We’re seeing some competition from Kobo, but with the locked-in Kindle platform, it’s going to be a long up hill struggle. And Kobo has already lost in the UK.
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Linda Thorne March 8, 2017 um 9:10 pm
This is interesting news. Changes everywhere.
peter March 12, 2017 um 11:26 am
I have a webpage not related to books I had been making it to the 8% level every month, and brining in about $1700 per month. Now it is going to.be more like $700. Theyjust sucked the wind out of my business. Amazon did this to us to squeeze us. It sucks.
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