The founders of book recommendation site Lovereading have said they are “baffled and shocked” by Amazon’s decision to terminate its affiliate programme linking titles to the Amazon website.
Louise Weir and Peter Crawshaw, co-founders of Lovereading, have displayed links to Amazon for the past five years without problems. However, the Amazon Associates Programme has now terminated the arrangement, with no further payments of advertising fees, after telling them that the website has violated the EU Associates Programme Operating Agreement. Weir and Crawshaw received the communication shortly after Amazon bought Goodreads.
Weir and Crawshaw said they were still in the dark about what the website did to “violate” the agreement. In an email exchange, Amazon Associates said Lovereading was “automatically starting sessions on an Amazon Site tagged with [its] Associates ID in order to artificially increase [its] advertising fee earnings”, a practice known as “cookie-stuffing”. But Weir and Crawshaw maintain that Lovereading’s IT department investigated and found that was not the case.
A last letter from Amazon said: “We confirm that the decision to close your Associates account and withhold fees is final. Because this decision is final, further requests to review your account for reinstatement will not receive a response.”
Weir told The Bookseller: “We feel our readers are suffering as a result, they no longer have the ability to click through directly from us to what they see as the best price. It makes no sense. We have linked to them for four to five years with no problem and then out of the blue we get this this.” She added: “It’s a blow for British book lovers, who have become used to being able to choose from all available formats on Lovereading.”
The site also links to Apple and Kobo in an affiliate scheme. Weir said Lovereading was now investigating ways to partner with the Booksellers Association and direct customers to independent bookshops.
She added: “Going forward we will focus instead on supporting independent, high street bookshops by sending our visitors their way instead.”
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.