EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3008 - February 25, 2013     5 of 5

Amazon Tells Affiliates to Cool It on Free Kindle eBooks

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Amazon announced some changes to its user agreement for affiliates, and it could have a significant effect on earnings for those marketers who promote free Kindle ebooks thanks to a brand new clause. The new Amazon Associates Operating Agreement, which governs affiliates' participation in the Amazon Associates Program for, go into effect on March 1, 2013.

Amazon added a new clause called, "Associates Program Advertising Fee Schedule - Limitations on Advertising Fee Rates for Certain Products." The new clause states that if Associates send too many customers to purchase free Kindle eBooks in a given month, the Associate will not earn any affiliate referral fees.

In discussing the changes, affiliates expressed concern over how they would determine how many free ebooks were ordered through their free links. "I can understand and appreciate the rationale for this change, however, since Amazon doesn't report to us how many free Kindle books are "ordered", we are in many ways in a similar situation as with the "friends and family" penalty, i.e. completely in the dark."

One affiliate replied, "Amazon will show in your account, since March, the Free Books Downloaded with your associate link."

When another affiliate asked, "Why dont (sic) you just stop promoting free books? Or am I missing something here," another replied that freebies were "always nice gift and help in marketing."

Another wrote, "What will this do for all of the authors who list their ebooks for free to get their name out there? They would no longer have a platform for that. I also spent the money to buy my domain name and hosting. I have worked for over a year and a half to build up my readership in my niche category. I feel like I am being punished for being good at something."

There was uncertainty whether affiliates could continue to promote free eBooks without using their affiliate link. One affiliate wrote, "If so, there's no reason to use an affiliate link to a free book, is there?"

One seller explained how important the free book marketing was to her model: "Argh! Better start looking for a new idea - this could be the end of me! The point of promoting free books is to get them to click over to Amazon to get the cookie. Even if they "buy" the free book, the cookie is still there for 24 hours. It has been my business base - using free books. I have made quite a bit of money this way."

Authors of Kindle eBooks are also impacted by the changes and discussed the issue on this forum on

The new clause reads:

"In addition, notwithstanding the advertising fee rates described on this page or anything to the contrary contained in this Operating Agreement, if we determine you are primarily promoting free Kindle eBooks (i.e., eBooks for which the customer purchase price is $0.00), YOU WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE TO EARN ANY ADVERTISING FEES DURING ANY MONTH IN WHICH YOU MEET THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:
(a) 20,000 or more free Kindle eBooks are ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links; and
(b) At least 80% of all Kindle eBooks ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links are free Kindle eBooks."

Amazon made other changes to the operating agreement, including decreasing the $50 bounty for cell phones with a wireless service plan to $25. Amazon created a page for affiliates to see the changes to the new operating agreement.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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