Is This For Real?

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Is This For Real?

[Update: Apparently Galleycat discussed this yesterday here.]

A letter that has gone out to authors from one of the smaller publishers:

Square Peg in a Round Hole_0565Dear Authors:

I hope this e-mail finds you well.  Recently we learned of a new policy being implemented by some of our major booksellers.  In order for a book to be considered for purchase, a link to the bookseller must be featured on the author’s website.  We have found that while the majority of our authors provide links to Amazon, they do not include other major retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.  This is extremely important, as buyers have explicitly stated that they will not order books for their stores if the below links are not found on the author’s website.  They are now going to each author’s website to check this before placing their order.

At the bottom of this e-mail please find URL codes to add to your site.  I would also be greatly appreciative if you could send me an e-mail letting me know when you update your site.  If someone else handles your site, please forward this email to them and make sure they understand its importance.

Although these are important changes for everyone to address as soon as possible, this is especially imperative for those of you with books coming out between January 2010 through April 2010, as those titles are currently being considered by the major booksellers and will [be] “skipped” if your website is not in compliance.

Please let me know if you have any questions or need clarification on any of the above information, and [name] and I both thank you in advance for your help with this issue.

The letter than lists links to Amazon, B&N, Borders, Books-a-Million, and Indiebound. But why stop there? Why shouldn’t you then have to list all of your local booksellers? Amazon, I believe, pays sites a tiny bit of money for sales that come via click-throughs, but do the other companies? Not that it doesn’t make sense to give people as many choices as possible, but … to have it decreed? And why is it that the chains feel they can dictate what authors have on their websites, anyway? Are they going to post links to the author’s sites on their pages? Highlight in any way the authors who are “in compliance”?

I have not heard of this sort of requirement from any other publisher, and I wonder if it is only the smaller companies that are being penalized this way by one of the big chains. What gives?

  1. I wonder if it’s okay to have no seller links on one’s page.

    I wonder if they make exceptions for Best Sellers.

    I wonder if they’re also demanding authors hand over their lunch money.


  2. I’m like Jen: my first thought was “what if I don’t link ANYTHING?” …or what if the author doesn’t have a website (rare, but possible)?

    This seems silly, petty, and too hard to enforce.


  3. My last publisher didn’t send a letter, but did have a marketing person check my site to make sure I’d linked to more than just Amazon.

    All of the major booksellers including IndieBound have affiliate programs. These pay you a small percentage of sales generated through your website. You have to sign up for each and provide tax reporting information, but hey. Once you’re done, it’s free money.

    It’s not a good strategic move to have a site for a book and not link to stores. Your site exists in large part to sell books, no? So, um, sell them!

    I love my local bookstores more than anything and visit them often and spend hundreds of dollars every year on books–way more than I spend online.

    This online shopping thing is here to stay, though, which is probably more than most writers can say for their careers. You have to fight for every inch of success, and online sales are an increasingly big part of that.


  4. What the??? Why can’t the publisher have those gazillion links on their site..and the author can run his/her own site as they please? Hey, if I ever get a book published, I would be happy to also be paid to run my blog according to publisher’s requirements as well. Until the extra check comes rolling my way, it’ll be MY site, and I’ll link to my local indie bookstore, thank you very much.

    Very weird letter indeed.


  5. Yes, affiliate money is easy and benefits both the indies and the seller. However, Amazon pays next to nothing for this kind of linkage. Their ‘program’ is pretty tiny compared to the others. I’m thinking they don’t really need the exposure. B&N requires more than simply linkage (at least, from what I’ve read) — you also have to advertise any of their current specials. That can be a little annoying, and I don’t link to them because of it. But I do what I can to provide some exposure for our local indie, as well as Powells, which is my other online favorite.


  6. What are they going to do? Add a clause to author contracts requiring them to list every known book selling venue? Ugh…


  7. They want to steal our work, and make us grateful for it.

    Then they want us to do THEIR work and make us grateful for it.

    And finally they want to mug us, and make us grateful for it.

    I think I’m going to take up–oh, I don’t know–politics? I might feel dirty, but I won’t have to feel grateful.



  8. Does the reverse apply? I mean, if you put the link on your author site, are they then compelled to order copies to stock in their store?

    That would be cool…..seems only fair.



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