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Do You Only Link to Amazon on Your Site?

amazon vs barnes nobleI’ve heard from several sources that Barnes & Noble is paying attention to authors’ blogs and websites, and specifically, they’re interested in which links you include so that people can click through to buy your book. If you are linking only to Amazon, Barnes & Noble may choose not to carry your book.

We’re not sure if this is really going to happen, but I think it brings up a good point. Amazon is certainly easy to link to, but they’re not the only online retailer we should support. If we want other booksellers to stay in business, particularly those that also have physical stores, we should support them as best we can.

I recommend that on your author website, you include several different links for each of your books. (At some of these, you can sign up for an associate account and earn money for click throughs that result in sales.)

If your book is with a Christian publisher, you can include:

It might seem like a lot of work, but this really helps support your publisher’s major customers.

And the more you link to outside sites, the higher your ranking in searches on Google and Bing will be. So this will work in your favor.

What buying links are you including on your site? Will you add multiple links for each book?

 

 

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!

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  28. Ariel Paz on February 25, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Thanks, Rachelle. I appreciate your hints and tips to us new authors. Just added a few more links to my blog. It is so true if we believe in our dreams, they can come true. I am amazed that I just published my first book, entitled “The Power of Faith”.
    Thanks again and keep looking up!



  29. Nikole Hahn on January 12, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    That’s good to know. Most of the time, I don’t include links to other sites when I review, but there are some exceptions and recent examples. I’ll begin doing so. Thanks!



  30. Adelpha on December 29, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    I had the same problem with BN.They actually told me they’ve skipped my book because I’m not sharing their website enough.I tried to plead for another chance and the only response I got was to erase all my Amazon links.
    What do you think I should do?



  31. Laura Marcella on December 23, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    Whether or not B&N’s threat is legitimate, I think it’s a good idea to link to all places that carry your book anyway! I have a blog page featuring my blog buddies’ book releases, and I link to B&N, Books•A•Million and Amazon.



  32. Aubrie Dionne on December 23, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    Thanks for posting! I wasn’t aware of this. Thank goodness I’ve linked to both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I’ll consider those other links as well.



  33. Amy Armstrong on December 23, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    I usually include IndieBound.org links. I would add multiple links for every book I promote on my blog, but that’s way too much work at this point in my career. If I didn’t have a full time day job, maybe :-p



  34. Michael Seese on December 21, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    Rachelle, I took your advice and:

    1. Finally uploaded my eBook to barnesandnoble.com;
    2. Added to my website the links to all of my books’ pages on Barnes & Noble; and
    3. Added to my website the links to all of my books’ pages on Books-a-Million.

    That’s three “wins” today.

    Thanks a million, Rachelle.

    PS: I also gave you credit for this advice in my blog.



  35. Amy on December 21, 2011 at 9:45 AM

    It’s funny to run across this now — I JUST clicked on an author’s book on their website, and it led me straight to the Amazon buy-page. And for just a second, I considered not buying it because I really hate Amazon — ridiculous, yes! but the thought crossed my mind.

    So yes – please provide other links! If only to make your potential readers a teeny bit happier!



    • Timothy Fish on December 21, 2011 at 11:41 AM

      I don’t know that there is a correct answer when dealing with chauvinism. You can’t please everyone.



      • Amy on December 21, 2011 at 12:40 PM

        Of course not!! My apologies if my post came off like that. I used to be WAY too big of an Amazon customer, so statements like that are all just part of my healing process.

        Just meant to chime in to support Rachelle’s original suggestion to provide other buying links on your website. That’s all.



  36. Cherry Odelberg on December 21, 2011 at 12:38 AM

    Very helpful tip. I will flesh out my links.



  37. marion on December 20, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    Then there’s this blog post by a FB friend, on unexpected RETAIL book-sellers:
    http:beyond.customline.com/2012/12/20/where-are-books-selling/

    This post just went up, too. Guess you & she are kind of on the same wavelength!



  38. marion on December 20, 2011 at 10:56 PM

    Bookmarked this in my bookbiz folder.
    Thanks, Rachelle!



  39. Rachelle Christensen on December 20, 2011 at 10:49 PM

    Great post! I’m linked up to several sites, but will now add a few more. One to remember is to include a separate link for physical and e-book versions to draw attention to the fact that your book is available in both formats.



  40. Peter DeHaan on December 20, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    I may be wrong, but I thought that the more outside sites you link to the more it will harm your search engine ranking.



  41. Marti Pieper on December 20, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    Great advice. It always bothered me to throw all my support to Amazon. I repent!



  42. Theresa Froehlich on December 20, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    Wow! Great discussion here. I’ve written a book and my agent is just now starting to find a publisher. The information is great info for me to learn.

    Coach Theresa



  43. Sabine A. Reed on December 20, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    I included all links including my publishers and amazon among others but the book The Black Orb is still to appear in Barnes and Noble Nook store even after 2 months. It seems it takes them longer than most to upload. Anyone knows why?



  44. Reba on December 20, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    Thanks for the tip.
    I’m always open to new helpful tips, and this sounds like it is one. I must say I have learned a lot from you these past 6mo or so that I have been reading your blog. Now that the new year is about on us, it’s time to put those tips into motion.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.
    :0)



  45. TNeal on December 20, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    I’m linked, blog-wise, to only Amazon currently but with no book on the market. That will change soon.

    It’s good food for thought.



  46. Krista on December 20, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    Once I started using GoodReads (www.goodreads.com), I started linking there. Their website has a variety of vendor options, including B&N.



  47. P. J. Casselman on December 20, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    I only linked to Amazon because I am only on Amazon. This inspired me to put my books on more sites, thank you!



  48. christine on December 20, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    Great advice – and yes, I link to many many sites!



  49. Timothy Fish on December 20, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    “And the more you link to outside sites, the higher your ranking in searches on Google and Bing will be. So this will work in your favor.”

    Indirectly, that can be true because linking to outside sites often results in links back to your own site, but the Google algorithm gives the value to the page that is linked to, not the page that contains the link.



  50. Brianna on December 20, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    I would definitely include more than one link. Just because I love Amazon doesn’t mean everyone else does and if it means the difference between selling my book and not selling my book, than I will include as many links as I need to.



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  52. Joanna Thompson on December 20, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    Well, I didn’t know that. It’s good information, because I’m just starting to make a site for my stories and I’d actually like to link Barn&Noble to it. This might also be my chance to get published. 😛 Thanks!



    • Timothy Fish on December 20, 2011 at 10:48 AM

      How would this result in you getting published?



  53. Joe Pote on December 20, 2011 at 10:11 AM

    Very interesting post!

    I currently have links to CreateSpace, Amazon and B&N.

    I have made CreateSpace the default (primary) link, simply because I have more control over the page layout and it yields the highest royalties for me. I figure that if the buyer is going to pay the same price at any location, then I may as well steer them toward the site that yields the highest royalties for me.

    However, I have been considering changing that to have Amazon as the primary link and completely dropping the CreateSpace link, because Amazon includes a lot of cool marketing tools, such as ReadInside, reader reviews, Kindle option, “People who bought this book also bought…”, a listing of other outlets and their purcahse prices, etc.

    I have the B&N link only for people who use Nook, really. B&N just does not have as many marketing tools on their site, as compared to Amazon.

    I have been concerend that I have too many options, that a customer may hesitate on making a decision, simply because I’m not giving clear direction on their next step.

    Now, you have me wondering if I’ve got it backwards. Perhaps I need, instead, to develop a better book page, and have a gazillion purchase options.

    Color me puzzled…



    • Timothy Fish on December 20, 2011 at 10:47 AM

      That’s part of the reason why I provide only one link. I want to make it easy for people to click through to somewhere, but if they want to type 978-1612950006 into the search form on another website, I’ve got no problem with that. But providing a link to everything under the sun just makes things difficult.



      • Joe Pote on December 20, 2011 at 1:37 PM

        I’m still mulling it over, but I think you may have inspired me to move forward with a single link to Amazon.

        I find it difficult to believe that more choices = more sales. In fact there is significant research pointing to the contrary.

        Trying to cover the bases for every possible option available on the internet seems a bit extreme…especially when Amazon, GoodReads, and several other sites will do automated price comparisons for the customer.



  54. Richard Mabry on December 20, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    I link to my “author page” on Amazon, B&N, CBD, plus Indiebound. That’s four links on the sidebar. Hardly any work at all.



  55. CG Blake on December 20, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    Great post, Rachelle. When I write a book review I link the title to the Amazon site, but I like Kristen’s suggestion to link to Goodreads. I do find their reviews more credible. As for putting up links to bookseller sites I have not done that but I suppose when I do the more the merrier.



  56. David Todd on December 20, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    I know I need to do that, but am not anxious for the website restructuring needed. Right now I just have Kindle, Smashwords, and CreateSpace links for my works. If I add B&N and any other, I would need to separate the works out on dedicated pages. Not the end of the world type stuff, but time I don’t particularly want to put in right now.



    • Timothy Fish on December 20, 2011 at 10:39 AM

      One option would be to have your website randomly pick which link to use. I’m not sure that would satisfy B&N, if they visited your site and their link didn’t randomly appear, but it would keep you from having to change the structure of the site.



      • David Todd on December 20, 2011 at 1:10 PM

        Have a computer randomly pick between links? That sounds like something way, way beyond this Luddite/technophobe’s miniscule html abilities. I can change my site easier, I think. At least that’s menu driven, and I can always figure out a menu.



        • Timothy Fish on December 20, 2011 at 2:40 PM

          The following (assuming it comes through okay on Rachelle’s blog) will do the trick. Just put it where you would normally put a link. Of course, you will need to replace my URLs with yours, set numberOfLinks to the number you need and add cases as needed, but it will get the job done:

          <script type=”text/javascript”>
          var numberOfLinks = 2;
          var randNum = Math.floor(Math.random()*numberOfLinks);
          var linkStr0 =
          “http://www.amazon.com/Extending-Art-Illusion-Reference-Creating/dp/1612950027”;
          var linkStr1 =
          “http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/extending-art-of-illusion-timothy-fish/1037325198?ean=9781612950020&itm=1&usri=extending+art+of+illusion”;

          switch (randNum){
          case 0: document.write(“<a href=\””+linkStr0+”\”>Buy My Book</a>”);
          break;
          case 1: document.write(“<a href=\””+linkStr1+”\”>Buy My Book</a>”);
          break;
          default: case 0: document.write(“<a href=\””+linkStr0+”\”>Buy My
          Book</a>”); break;
          }
          </script>



  57. Katie Ganshert on December 20, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    Funny you post about this, Rachelle! Because my marketing friend at my pub house gave me a whole list of retailers to link to from my website for this very reason!



  58. Jessica Kent on December 20, 2011 at 8:09 AM

    Ah, thanks for this! As a writer and a Barnes & Noble bookseller, I’ve always linked to B&N whenever I can, simply out of loyalty. But lest we forget the name on the store is “Barnes & Noble Booksellers” – their commitment is to books. Amazon sells a bunch of stuff…and books. But it can’t be denied that most people default to Amazon when they think of online book retailers (I don’t). I’m hoping that trend changes.



    • Timothy Fish on December 20, 2011 at 8:49 AM

      Names don’t always mean anything. Sure, Amazon.com sells other things, but if you think they aren’t committed to books, you haven’t been paying attention. They make several times the number of books available that B&N does.



  59. Amanda Ball on December 20, 2011 at 7:42 AM

    Interesting thread. It makes sense to me to promote as many ways for people to buy my books as possible. I want them to buy them and if I can make it easier for them to do so, so much the better! Plus, you can make a little extra commission if you use an affiliate link – let’s be honest, in the current climate, every little bit counts!

    I didn’t know that China was such a big market and haven’t yet moved over to Kobo, so I’ll move that up the ‘To do’ list a few notches.

    Thanks for all the info and Merry Christmas!



  60. Timothy Fish on December 20, 2011 at 7:39 AM

    That seems to be further proof that Barnes & Noble doesn’t have their thinking cap on. I typically don’t link to Barnes & Noble because of this very thing. When I point potential customers at a site, I want to be sure that they will be able to purchase the book at that site. Barnes & Noble has a reputation for refusing to sell books and they aren’t going to improve on that reputation by link counting.

    I will say however that I did link to B&N the other day. At the time they were selling Extending Art of Illusion for 33% off of what Amazon.com was charging. But it appears Barnes & Noble has raised the price again, and they still don’t have the image for the front cover shown. They would do well to try to encourage authors to link to their site rather than using scare tactics.



  61. Sharon A Lavy on December 20, 2011 at 7:38 AM

    When I post book reviews I post the link for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and christianbook.com– if the book is sold in all three places. I will have to consider adding some other sites.



  62. Marleen Gagnon on December 20, 2011 at 7:23 AM

    I’m a B&N girl myself, and if I can help them in any way I will. But if I’m looking for a book, I go the the B&N site first. Only if I can’t find it there do I search other sites. I’ve never gone to the author’s site to buy a book.

    As an unpublished author I still want to help B&N. But how?



  63. Tory Michaels on December 20, 2011 at 6:11 AM

    I don’t have a book out yet, but when it does I intended on linking to at least B&N (I’m a Nook girl, and get annoyed when I have to track down the link because someone only posts info about Amazon), Amazon, and my publisher’s site. Thanks to this post, I’ll watch for other sites and try to include them.

    With the book coming out from an e-pub it’s already an uphill battle to grab attention. I want to make it as easy as possible for people to find/buy my work.

    Thanks for doing this post, Ms. Gardner.



  64. E.Maree on December 20, 2011 at 5:49 AM

    A link to the Book Depository is a must-have for international buyers.



  65. Marianne Wheelaghan on December 20, 2011 at 5:27 AM

    Hi Rachelle, a big thanks for post and to everyone for the comments. It’s always so helpful to read your posts and hear what everyone has to say. Am taking everything in and the New Year should see my much improved web site! Ha! Have a great Christmas and all good wishes for 2012 from a wet and windy Edinburgh in Scottyland :0)



  66. mark williams international on December 20, 2011 at 4:01 AM

    While I doubt B&N would pull books because authors can’t be bothered to link on their own blogs, they might well start pulling books which have buy links to other sites at the back.

    Not that it matters much to us outside the US while B&N continues to be an Americans-only site.

    What’s really crazy about those that only carry Amazon links is that they then act surprised when most of their buyers come through Amazon.

    If author spent anywhere near as much time promoting the supposedly smaller sites like iTunes, Kobo, etc, as they spend on promoting Amazon links they might find those smaller sites aren’t so small after all.

    And they may find entire markets of new readers among the many countries Amazon blocks from downloading ebooks or surcharges.

    There are 200 million English-speakers in West Africa, for example, who cannot buy ebooks from Amazon because Amazon blocks downloads here – http://markwilliamsinternational.com/2011/11/06/harry-potter-and-the-prisoner-of-aakash/.

    And your 99c ebook that will cost a Kobo buyer 99c in China will cost that same buyer 2.99 on Amazon because of rip-off surcharges Amazon arbitrarily imposes.

    A 99c ebook in Hungary or Poland will cost the buyer $3.45 from Amazon once they impose their surcharge and then add the local European tax.

    Writers who treat Amazon as the be all and end all of their marketing strategy are missing out on huge opportunities elsewhere.

    Chinas has already surpassed the UK as the second largest e-reading nation, and will eclipse America soon enough.

    There’s a big wide world out there beyond Amazon and B&N.



    • Timothy Fish on December 20, 2011 at 8:38 AM

      Part of the reason authors tend to link to Amazon.com is because they make more money per book from Amazon.com.



      • mark williams international on December 20, 2011 at 9:58 AM

        If authors don’t bother linking to and promoting the other platforms to the same level then that’s no surprise. If you only sell on one platform you will only ever sell on one platform.

        No question Amazon is the biggest player right now, but that won’t last forever.

        It’s crazy that, when authors can finally reach the world, they choose two companies that either don’t serve the rest of the world at all (B&N) or like Amazon deliberately block millions of potential customers and surcharge the rest.

        One reason indie writers are nowhere near approaching the sales of the big trad published authors is precisely because they limit their options. Patterson, King, Meyer, etc, are international best-sellers. There are no international best-selling indies.



        • Timothy Fish on December 20, 2011 at 10:33 AM

          I have sold books to people in foreign countries, but I’ll have to admit that I don’t know that much about it. I let my distributor handle all of that. Some of those surcharges you mention may be a result of import/export taxes and/or shipping costs that are incurred in getting it to the warehouse. I very much doubt that the reason “there are no international best-selling indies” is not because self-publishers are limiting their options. It seems more likely that by the time a self-published book reaches that level of recognition the author has signed a contract with a traditional publishing company. I would imagine that the headache of handing export considerations is one of the reasons why self-publishers would pass their popular book on to a traditional publisher.



        • TNeal on December 20, 2011 at 12:15 PM

          John Locke appears to be doing well as an indie author.



      • mark williams international on December 21, 2011 at 3:47 AM

        Amazon only pay out 70% on sales made in the US, Canada and the Kindle Europe countries (UK,France, Italy, Spain and Germany). Sales elsewhere get the author just the 35%.

        Despite the “world rights” box most of the countries listed are meaningless. Amazon actually only distribute ebooks to about 100 countries – less than half the world.

        Outside the luck few Amazon impose the $2 surcharge. A 99c ebook costs $2.99 in China. The author gets 35% of the 99c. The surcharge is kept by Amazon. If the book is sold at $2.99 Amazon charge $4.99. The author gets just 35% of the $2.99. The rest is pocketed by Amazon.

        Great for their shareholders. Not so great for the author who has been misled into believing they have worldwide distribution.



        • Timothy Fish on December 21, 2011 at 7:14 AM

          If you don’t like what they are paying, you have the option of not making your books available through them. What I was actually referring to was that if you want to go to the trouble of setting it up (which I have not) Amazon.com will pay a portion of the sale price for referrals.



          • mark williams international on December 21, 2011 at 7:58 AM

            It’s not a matter of not liking what Amazon are doing, or not liking their royalties. Their rates are fine.

            But it is disingenuous, to say the least, to tell authors they have worldwide distribution, naming each country, when they actually block downloads to many of those countries.

            There is no mention anywhere for authors that Amazon will charge most of the world a $2 surcharge where they do offer the download. Amazon ignore all attempts to find out why this surcharge is imposed.

            Authors sign up for Amazon because they think they are getting the best deal. Within the US, Canada and the four European Kindle sites that may be true. But in the big wide world beyond it’s not.

            It’s clear from comments here and elsewhere that most writers aren’t bothering with other platforms because they wrongly believe Amazon is offering worldwide distribution and fantastic royalties across the board.

            And for the record we make 90% of our not inconsiderable sales through Amazon. They’re a great company, and have helped change the lives of numerous authors, no question.

            But it is crazy for any author to rely on one company, and especially so if that decision is based on misleading information.



          • Timothy Fish on December 21, 2011 at 6:00 PM

            Mark,

            You make a good point. However, at some point publishers are going to have to make a decision on which platform they go with. Just like the video industry had to make a decision to go with Blue-Ray, publishers should not have to support everyone who has a device out there. One of them will come out on top. I don’t know that Kindle will be the last one standing, but it looks that way right now.



    • Rachelle Gardner on December 20, 2011 at 10:00 AM

      Thanks for the great info you regularly provide, Mark, here and on your own site.



  67. Elisa on December 20, 2011 at 1:06 AM

    We’ve heard many variations of this that online over the pay year or so. Anyone remember the one where publishers/agents considered dropping authors if they didn’t link to at least the major booksellers on their sites? This specific B&N one has made the rounds a few times and honestly, I think it’s just a story. An urban legend if you will.

    The real threat is losing customers over only linking to one retailer. For example, I’m a NOOK user and I’d got into the habit of checking to see if promos referencing Kindle/AMZ were also available for NOOK/B&N, ARe/omnilit, smashwords, etc. 80-90% of the time, they were good for both retailers, sometimes more – but I was left to do the leg work every time.

    I’m sure it seems strange (or even lazy), but it’s frustrating for those of us who prefer to purchase elsewhere. It feels like authors/bloggers/whatever don’t recognize our preferences to be important. And deciding where and how we spend our money is often a personal thing. As a result, I end up not buying those author’s books.

    It’s worth repeating that the easier it is for readers to find information about or access to your books, the stronger sales will be. In the book world, the larger your assistance is, the stronger you are as an author and businessperson.



    • Elisa on December 20, 2011 at 1:08 AM

      Ugh. Autocorrect hates me. Hopefully that made sense.



      • Becky Parman on December 20, 2011 at 4:05 PM

        I am going to second Elisa’s post. While I find it highly un-likely that B&N will pull books in this situation I do think you are hurting your sales if you only link to one store.

        If a link to a book takes me to the nook page, even if I don’t buy it right away I will stick it on my wish list for later. If it takes me to amazon I am only going to go through the trouble of finding it on B&N if it is a book that really, really interests me and I want to buy it right now. If you are linking from your website then you can easily provide links to several vendors. If you are linking in a blog post or something similar where you really can’t provide several links I like the earlier suggestion of linking to goodreads which makes it easy to see reviews and pick the store you wish to buy from.

        Since I scan my wish list when looking for new books I am far more likely to end up buying a book that had a link to B&N than one I had to do cyber-somersaults to get to.



  68. Amber on December 20, 2011 at 12:36 AM

    The other day I overheard a young girl say to her friends “Well I don’t think she likes me, so I don’t like her.” I kind of laughed and thought ah, middle school. This post reminded me of that.

    When B&N proves itself as an online retailer equal to or surpassing Amazon, authors will be happy to link there. Pulling books out of spite is not only immature, but cripples their own selection, thereby guaranteeing its inferiority to Amazon’s. Let them cut off their nose to spite their face and see where it gets them.



  69. Kristen on December 20, 2011 at 12:29 AM

    I am not linking to any of my own books just yet, but I recently stopped linking to Amazon when talking about other author’s books. Instead I link to Goodreads which has, in my opinion, better and more reliable reviews, and they already list a variety of purchasing options.

    And even as a broke student trying to keep my book costs down, I strongly support purchasing from independent presses instead of always buying from Amazon.



  70. Patricia Stoltey on December 20, 2011 at 12:26 AM

    I recently started varying my purchase links to include publishers, local bookstores if they have a book in stock, and also will include more online sellers. It’s good business.



  71. Jevon Bolden on December 20, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    Yes! I recently learned about this through interactions with some of my authors. I completely agree with you that while it may seem like extra work, it really does show support, recognition, and even gratitude for authors to include links from various stores. Authors have worked hard to get published and finally several retailers want to give their books additional exposure; why not return the favor?

    Thanks for this post!



  72. Mike Mullin on December 20, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    You really should include IndieBound in this list. Independent bookstores sell far more books than Books-a-Million.



  73. Chelsey on December 20, 2011 at 12:13 AM

    I also recommend linking to IndieBound, Book Depository or Powell’s to give readers a chance to avoid the major corporations.



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