Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

3/11/11

Considering the Amazon Affiliate Problem and Book Reviewing

Google me. You will see I review a lot of books and things on Amazon.com

I reviewed long before I put up a website, but bad news hit my e-mail today. Amazon is dumping affiliates in Illinois. (I live just west of Chicago.). I don't alter my reviews because I'm an Amazon affiliate, but many of my reviews make it on my site.

As an Illinoisan, I'm upset. I have been an affiliate through Amazon, relying on them to support my site as I promote Hungarian culture in the US, http://hungarianbookstore.com/

Basically, the governor felt pressure from Illinois brick-and-mortars. Large corporations HQed elsewhere. The tension of competition is real: no taxes means I buy from Amazon instead of Big Tool, Inc.
Amazon will have to charge tax from me when I buy from them, as I understand. The affiliate issue stems from how I make that money. Taxes will get involved.

As the competition tension is real, so is the reality that sites like mine are bare bones, break-even at best operations. Small publishers will feel the hit, dependent on promotion by small time blogs, niche website and the like.

How other affiliate programs will respond, I don't know. I use Google's Adsense, Linkshare and Commission - both manage lots of affiliate programs for smaller companies and some Hungarian ones. I have read that places like Sears are redoubling their efforts to attract sites like mine.

It will not affect how I review. That has been an independent, though overlapping effort. It will affect how I present the review on my sites and blog, since I cannot also profit from the relationship.

Until the Amazon decision, I was able to organize and offer small run books by unknown Hungarian writers. I review Hungarian writers as I can.

Amazon is not my only vendor, but they represent most of my site's income, and Google finishes almost all of the rest (together, maybe 97%). Other vendors are on the site, but mostly to offer more to the visitor. For years, I have lost money on the site, but as a labor of love, I don't mind. However, I cannot buffer the loss of Amazon income.

I don't know what I will do. Most likely, I will pull all Amazon ads from the site, or move the site overseas. I'm looking into my options. I won't rush into it, but I will not make money from Amazon ads after April 15.

Any ideas? I'm all ears.

Text of the e-mail Amazon sent.

(This blog post combines some e-mails and discussion board posts.)
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