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Old 03-01-2013, 11:20 PM   #121
DiapDealer
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Oh yeah... that sure sounds like a labor of love.

Give it up. As much as you'd like everyone to believe it's none of our business--that it's strictly between Amazon and you, it's our traffic and our browsers. We have an inherent say in the matter whether you recognize it or not.
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Old 03-02-2013, 01:07 AM   #122
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Oh yeah... that sure sounds like a labor of love.

Give it up. As much as you'd like everyone to believe it's none of our business--that it's strictly between Amazon and you, it's our traffic and our browsers. We have an inherent say in the matter whether you recognize it or not.
Point out where my argument is wrong? You keep saying it SHOULD be your business, but can't come up with any plausible reason why it should be.
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Old 03-02-2013, 04:29 AM   #123
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Point out where my argument is wrong? You keep saying it SHOULD be your business, but can't come up with any plausible reason why it should be.
When I sit in front of my computer and click on a link in a browser window, then what happens is my business, and the site I am currently visiting. Not the business of someone who's site I visited in the last 24 hours and where I clicked a link.

Ghostery, AdBlock, DoNotTrackMe, Collusion and NotScripts help me to ensure that it stays my business.
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Old 03-02-2013, 06:49 AM   #124
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Point out where my argument is wrong? You keep saying it SHOULD be your business, but can't come up with any plausible reason why it should be.
No, you keep saying it SHOULDN'T be any of my business, but can't accept the fact that it already IS.

Should/shouldn't isn't relevant here.
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:04 AM   #125
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Ah but we SHOULD ensure that affiliates are handsomely rewarded for posting links to free books. It's our moral duty.

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Old 03-02-2013, 08:48 AM   #126
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Ah now I see where you are coming from. As a business owner your agreement with contractors is confidential to those that use your service. Your agreement with Amazon is emblazoned on the Web for anyone to see. Then there is the cookie issue.... a 'commission' can be either potentially diverted or deleted in the hand of a knowledgeable consumer.
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Old 03-04-2013, 02:52 AM   #127
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You almost had me until you used monetize.
Define Monetize: making money off of other peoples efforts.
I'd argue that the proper connotation of "monetize" in jalandar's post is to find a way to justify the effort and costs involved in a project by determining a method to at least make it pay for itself, and hopefully turn a profit. I’m certain that this is the way jalander intended the term.

Although the negative connotations of the term impact me as well, it’s worth reminding ourselves that few of the things we love about the internet would exist if someone didn’t find a way to “monetize” them. Amazon doesn’t provide books because they want you to have something to read; Google doesn’t provide a wonderful search engine and a pretty fine email program out of the goodness of their heart; etc.,etc.. It’s a nasty term for a fact of life—if you want something that costs the provider a real cost in terms of direct outlay (bandwidth, site hosting, rights, etc.) and indirect outlay (time), there’s got to be a way to pay for it. Even MobileRead has a need to ‘monetize’ the true cost of providing this forum by placing ads on forum pages. “Random acts of kindness” may not need to present any way to recoup costs, but they are random—I want something more reliable than that when I’m searching for books.

Without a doubt, there are Amazon affiliates that “game the system” that Amazon has set up to their own profit. I’ve seen a number of these sites, and I don’t go back to any of them, because I’m not looking for random freebies—I’m looking for something worth reading. I wish these sites didn't exist, and I'm all for Amazon finding a way to avoid making it profitable for them.
There are also Amazon Affiliates, both large and small, that I visit on a regular basis, and benefit from. Several are ebook blogs, at least 2 of which are run by MR members.
I certainly don’t find it objectionable that they get an affiliate percentage. Why not? I’m benefiting from the time they spend to ferret out both free and reduced-price bargains, from the fact that they’re frequently more knowledgeable than I am about certain genres and authors, and that they provide some type of “sifting” process to separate the wheat from the chaff. (If they didn’t provide more useful information than I could find on my own in a similar amount of time, I wouldn’t be on their site!) Their time and knowledge is worth something to me, and I prefer the method that Amazon pays for it, since Amazon ultimately profits from it. (The alternative would be either a subscription fee or a voluntary payment.) I don’t care what the precise formula is for rewarding them, as long as it enables them to continue work that I find beneficial! Amazon has decided that it should be a smaller percentage of everything I buy within a certain period. I’d prefer to see the affiliate system restructured. As many have mentioned, I don’t particularly see the logic in the ebook blog owner getting a payment from my lawnmower purchase—I’d rather see the media division isolated somewhat, and the affiliates get a bigger cut for media & media-related purchases. This change alone might get rid of the bulk of the ‘freebie-abuse’ websites that Amazon is probably trying to target by this change.

The cookie situation is certainly bizarre. Although I have no suggestion for a way to make it work, I actually think a long-term cookie for related purchases would make lots of sense. Recommend a free book to me: if I like it, and eventually go back and buy everything else the author has written, pay the affiliate a cut on all those books. This is exactly the business model that Amazon depends on to “monetize” (that nasty term again) giving away free ebooks (and authors or publishers depend on) so I don’t see any reason to object to the affiliate benefiting from that business model. (As a matter of fact, when I remember to do so, I’ll click thru an appreciated-affiliate’s link when I’m going to purchase a standard-price, not-mentioned ebook, as a painless way of saying “thanks” for pointing me towards interesting freebies that they didn’t profit from.) It’s also the business model that has been worked out long-term between libraries and publishers. My paper book shelves hold about 1000 titles, with the typical author represented by multiple titles. I can’t think of a single author offhand that has managed to occupy significant shelf space that I didn’t originally read for free (to me), or at a price reduced to the point that the risk was minimal.

I also benefit greatly from some of the bigger sites like EreaderIQ. I use them to notify me when a book on my wishlist drops in price (not necessarily to free), and I use them to find freebies or reduced-price books that I may be interested in. I know it’s possible to get all the same information from Amazon directly (except the price drop tracking, as far as I know), but it’s much more cumbersome. At least in my case, Amazon definitely benefits from this relationship, and so do I. I see no reason that the site operator shouldn’t benefit as well-- I'm pretty sure the site operator will find the costs of helping me objectionable if there isn't a way for them to benefit from it. Exactly what the formula is with Amazon to make sure there is a benefit to them doesn’t directly matter to me. Whether or not that formula makes it logical for the site owner to keep providing the service that I find beneficial to me does directly matter to me. It also indirectly matters to lots of MR readers who get a benefit when those discoveries by one MR member get shared to the rest of the MR community as “a random act of kindness”. (And yes, I’ve found some of the free books I’ve posted about on MR by visiting some of the blogs, and I appreciate being pointed to them, and I hope that you blog owners know that I appreciate it!)

It seems obvious to me (although obviously not so obvious to all here) that the quality blogs and websites are operating to the benefit of the business model that Amazon, publishers, and independent authors have developed. The ‘hammer’ policy change may get rid of some large abusers of the affiliate system, but it seems destined to damage a lot of the good affiliates as well. If you accept that the business model of Amazon (& publishers & authors) calls for giving away large quantities of free ebooks (and that they have decided that they ultimately profit by doing so), or selling ebooks at reduced prices, it seems apparent to me that the policy changes will do damage to that business model, or imply a shift in their business model. Either way, it seems apparent that it will damage my finding-affordable-quality-reading-material model.
For those who think this doesn’t affect them at all—I’ll bet that if you regularly frequent the “deals” forum here, or use any of the large sites (like EreaderIQ), it will ultimately affect you, because it affects the cost and rewards of generating that information somewhere upstream of your interaction point with it.
I fully agree that each of us has the right to block cookies, remove cookies, or bypass affiliate links in any way you want. I disagree completely with the thought that all affiliate links are somehow taking unfair advantage of the user. The most fair (and ethical) way of avoiding paying any affiliate for providing useful information to you, is to not use the information they’re providing, not by removing the affiliate information from a link. By using the information they’ve provided (in this case, a link to a reduced-price or free ebook), you’re already acknowledging that their effort was worth something to you-- even if it’s something you could find eventually without their help, you didn’t—you benefited from their time and expertise.

The cookie problem adds another bizarre twist. Some here find cookies valuable (as I do in my typical internet use), and don't want to clear them to avoid damage to an affiliate. I don't know a really painfree way to manage this, but I'm going to try to see if I can do so, because I do want to encourage "good affiliates" without hurting them.
Some don't want to accept cookies for any reason. I understand this, too. I think it's possible, though, to use an affiliate link (thereby crediting them for the original sale thru the affiliate tag), and decline cookies at the same time (thereby avoiding crediting them for any tag-on sales if you object to that), but I'm not positive of this. I feel pretty certain that the amount of information you give up to Amazon by accepting those cookies is considerably less than the amount you give up to Amazon during the purchase of anything you actually buy (or accept for free, or by checking a Kindle book out from the library), and that information is much more likely to be used for marketing purposes than the cookie is.
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Old 03-04-2013, 02:33 PM   #128
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Some don't want to accept cookies for any reason. I understand this, too. I think it's possible, though, to use an affiliate link (thereby crediting them for the original sale thru the affiliate tag), and decline cookies at the same time (thereby avoiding crediting them for any tag-on sales if you object to that), but I'm not positive of this. I feel pretty certain that the amount of information you give up to Amazon by accepting those cookies is considerably less than the amount you give up to Amazon during the purchase of anything you actually buy (or accept for free, or by checking a Kindle book out from the library), and that information is much more likely to be used for marketing purposes than the cookie is.
One relatively painless process is to only buy free book direct from the Kindle (well, if typing on your Kindle is painless - not so much on the touch screens or the bottom line unit).

Another is to keep open two browsers - use one to read the blogs, then cut/paste to other (which never opens affiliate tags) to buy free books. Or, use that one for Amazon only and clear tags regularly (quick and mostly painless if only need to log back into amazon).

For those thinking they are giving the affiliate info - the only info we get is from amazon, via aggregated reporting. They don't share any customer info, order info or specific sales data back to affiliates. Unless the affiliate has practically no sales and tracks you on their website, they'd never be able to correlate visitor to sales or clicks. It does give Amazon some extra info to use an affiliate link (or they would not be able to track back the earnings), but other than the session cookie, there are many cookies amazon places and you must accept them or you can't buy there.
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Old 03-04-2013, 03:09 PM   #129
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One relatively painless process is to only buy free book direct from the Kindle ...

Another is to keep open two browsers - use one to read the blogs, then cut/paste to other (which never opens affiliate tags) to buy free books. Or, use that one for Amazon only and clear tags regularly (quick and mostly painless if only need to log back into amazon).
Thanks for the tips, Koland! (your blog is definitely one of the "good affiliate" blogs in my mind, and I wouldn't want to hurt you.) Since I don't own a Kindle, but use Kindle4PC, I think the second method sounds workable for me without significant hassle. (and it gives me a reason to finally fire up and try a different browser, since I normally use Firefox & hate IE).

Thanks for the comments about the cookies, & information that isn't shared with the affiliate. Someone mentioned above the number of cookies placed on their PC via an Amazon purchase-- I'm aware that Amazon is one of the most pervasive of "data collectors" that we can deal with, but it's nice to have your confirmation that the affiliate cookie data doesn't go back to the affiliate (seems like one concern removed for those who oppose cookies on principal).
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Old 03-07-2013, 03:31 PM   #130
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Ghostery is amazing !!!
I think we all know that cookies are heavily used but it's still very interesting to watch a single web site try to dump 10 cookies onto your machine before you've interacted with it.
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:00 PM   #131
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Thanks for the tips, Koland! (your blog is definitely one of the "good affiliate" blogs in my mind, and I wouldn't want to hurt you.) Since I don't own a Kindle, but use Kindle4PC, I think the second method sounds workable for me without significant hassle. (and it gives me a reason to finally fire up and try a different browser, since I normally use Firefox & hate IE).

Thanks for the comments about the cookies, & information that isn't shared with the affiliate. Someone mentioned above the number of cookies placed on their PC via an Amazon purchase-- I'm aware that Amazon is one of the most pervasive of "data collectors" that we can deal with, but it's nice to have your confirmation that the affiliate cookie data doesn't go back to the affiliate (seems like one concern removed for those who oppose cookies on principal).
KentE
I share your view of Koland's site, and Karen has been active in helping a lot of us affected by this hash out how to respond and adapt to it.

As for the stuff about cookies and data passed on, affiliates only get a list of what was sold essentially, not who bought what, etc.

As for all the concern about cookies and "tracking" cookies.....

I really view a lot of the concern over that stuff as way overblown. Like the new anti-gmail campaign by Microsoft to try to bolster their new outlook service, making ads criticizing gmail for their targeted ads based on email content.

Frankly, I would much rather see ads that are more likely to be of interest to me, and I recognize that very little "personal" information goes along with that info that could tie back to my real identity. I don't really see the privacy concerns with this that so many others do.

I find it terribly amusing that some of the ones I see blast on about privacy concerns from advertiser cookies have the least restrictive settings for privacy turned on at social networks like facebook.

As a consumer, I WANT sites I use to be profitable. If being able to show me ads that are more likely to be of interest to me helps them get the revenue they need to keep providing the services I go to them for, or the content I go to them for, I have zero problem with that. The tracking cookies don't track ALL your internet traffic, only ones that share the same ad network. And usually the ad networks do not share much of that info with the sites, except in aggregate, and the sites don't provide the networks with the ability to identify you, provided they even can identify you themselves.

When you really truly do not want to be tracked, Chrome's incognito and Firefox's private browsing options exist. Use them when you are truly concerned about privacy regarding something, I do. I keep a usb stick with me with a portable chrome on it, that I use plugin and browse with when I am using someone else's computer for that very reason, so my browsing isn't a part of their browsing history.

Anyway, back on topic, authors are reporting significant decreases in downloads of their free books on the KDP select free promotions. One author reported a drop from 10k downloads on past free promotions for his book, to under 600 in the promotion they just ended that started after the change.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:22 PM   #132
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This thread has been really interesting. I don't really understand all the affiliate hate. I mean, it's not taking anything away from you if Amazon pays an affiliate a cut of a sale, and the affiliate doesn't have any way of seeing your personal information. They can just see what was purchased and what their cut is. So why do you care? You're spending the money either way, so why worry about it?
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:33 PM   #133
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So why do you care? You're spending the money either way, so why worry about it?
Because we can.

And it's not hate--at least not in my case. Like I said, I have no problem with sites who are clearly dedicated affiliate sites offering some sort of value-added services (although I still think getting credit for everything purchased for a 24 hour period is over-the-top). I take issue with the ones who offer absolutely no additional value and stick affiliate links where I least expect them. Like "review sites" who shoehorn affiliate links (sans review) to bargain ebooks in with their regular reviews (regular reviews that include no link to purchase--affiliate or otherwise).

I don't utilize the first type of site (dedicated affiliates), but harbor them no ill-will. The second type annoys the piss out of me.

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Old 03-07-2013, 08:26 PM   #134
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As DiapDealer says, it's not hate. I have a number of sites that attach affiliate codes to Amazon books that I use and am glad to pass on a thank you to (i.e. sfsignal.com). And if Amazon replaces the 24 hour lifetime on their current cookies, I'll reconsider my stance.

In the meantime, my browser, my rules.
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Old 03-07-2013, 08:32 PM   #135
taustin
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Posts: 1,270
Karma: 5500000
Join Date: Aug 2010
Device: Nook
Quote:
Originally Posted by jalandar View Post
As a consumer, I WANT sites I use to be profitable.
If you're not paying for the service, you're not the customer, you're the product. This isn't necessarily bad, so long as you understand the deal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jalandar View Post
If being able to show me ads that are more likely to be of interest to me helps them get the revenue they need to keep providing the services I go to them for, or the content I go to them for, I have zero problem with that.
I'd rather see ads for stuff I might want to buy than ads for stuff some advertiser want's to sell.

What people really want is to see no ads at all. But they're not willing to pay for the services that are currently free becaus they're ad supported.

Many people have a very flawed view of how the world works.
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