Authors' Amazon links debate continues

Authors' Amazon links debate continues

Bookseller Keith Smith has said the response from authors and publishers to his call for writers’ websites to link to independents has been “really gratifying”.

Last week the Kenilworth & Warwick bookshops owner wrote in The Bookseller of his anger over sites which linked exclusively to Amazon or chain retailers.
Smith said several authors and publishers had since contacted him, offering to link to his site. He said: “It was really gratifying to read the comments of authors and publishers wanting to get behind us and help us generate a better future for the industry as a whole, rather than what we have at the moment, which is an industry dominated by a mammoth global company that avoids paying tax and contributes very little to the UK economy and to its culture . . . let’s hope their actions speak louder than words.”

However other authors complained that independent booksellers don’t stock their books, pointing out that linking to Amazon provided an extra monthly revenue in affiliate click-through sales on the Amazon Associates scheme.

Author Diana Kimpton wrote: “I sympathise with small independent bookshops struggling through a recession, but authors are struggling too. Only a few get the high advances mentioned in the press. The rest earn much less, and many don't even get the equivalent of the minimum wage. As a result, the fact that the Amazon Associate scheme pays commission on sales resulting from links is very important. Because I have to split the royalty on my picture books with the illustrator, I actually earn more from the Amazon commission on a sale than I do from the publisher.”

Crime author Mark Sennen (published by Avon), said: “The simple truth of the matter is that local bookshops don't stock my books. I (and I suspect most authors) would be only too pleased to link to their local shop if the shop would stock their books.”

Last year, the Booksellers Association developed a “Find Your Local Bookshop’ button and the Society of Authors wrote to authors last year encouraging them to put in on their websites.

BA chief executive Tim Godfray told The Bookseller: “As part of our Keep Bookshops on the High Street Campaign, we introduced the Find Your Local Bookshop web button, as a way of connecting consumers with BA members. Many authors have already added the button to their website and we very much encourage more authors to get on board . . .

"We will continue to promote the value of high street bookselling to authors, and the BA Council will take on board comments from all of its members for further discussion.”