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Amazon or not?

want to add books to website



12:56 am on Jul 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi all,

I did a search but did not find an answer to my question. Your help is appriciated.

Amazon is paying now 4% on books sales on a regular, not tiered, program. I don't have any experience with Amazon affiliate program, but the payout seems to be quite low. Is there an alternative? I am interested only in books.



12:59 am on Jul 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Are you based in the U.S.?


12:25 pm on Jul 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Amazon's is what I would consider average. Powell's is 7.5% while Abebooks is 1.5%.


3:08 pm on Jul 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jane_doe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

For books, in my experience Amazon is the best program because they convert better than most other programs, which outweighs the short return window and the low commissions. Shoppers tend to trust Amazon and know they have low prices.


5:37 pm on Jul 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Nova, with tiers and growth tiers you can definately do about 10-11% on Amazon if you've got the traffic.


12:01 pm on Jul 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Thanks everyone!

Does anyone work with publishers directly? I did some research and some publishers have a good collection of books. I am going to contact publishers directly and ask if they have an affiliate program (they don't say anything about affiliate program at their websites). Does it worth it or it is a waste of time?



4:29 am on Jul 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>> I am going to contact publishers directly and ask if they have an affiliate program (they don't say anything about affiliate program at their websites).

You can buy the books from a distributor and sell them at about 30% margin. One major distributor (a primary amazon book disti) also has a drop ship program if you can send them $20K(US) worth of orders a month.

Needless to say .. the higher margin does involve a little bit more work.

Shawn Collins

2:52 pm on Jul 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

One good alternative to Amazon (after Barnes & Noble) is Overstock.

They have a big selection and good prices.


12:12 am on Jul 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The nice thing about Amazon is everybody and their mother already have accounts there. I make impulse buys there all the time, something I wouldn't do on a site where I had to go through the hassle of finding my credit card and entering all my billing information.

I don't know that they have the best paying affiliate program (in fact, I'm sure they don't), but they convert really well for me. Plus, I get a lot of people clicking through on books who end up buying kitchen vacuum cleaners or some weird thing.


6:22 pm on Jul 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If you expect to sell a fair number of books, you're best off with Amazon. It already has a huge customer base, and (as stated above) its fees are improving for those who opt into the tiered program.


9:43 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

One thing that concerns me, as I'm doing the same thing, is the viability of pay-per-click. As Amazon only pay 4 or 5% and the average book costs something like $12.00 we're talking income per sale of 60c or so.

At minimum CPC of 5c, a click to sales ratio of 1 in 12 (over 8%) is needed to just break even.

Hardly likely is it?

There's also the fact you need to sell a lot of books to make any real money. Confident you could sell 100 books a week?

OK, that's $60 but getting 100 paying customers a week isn't something you do whilst making a cup of tea.

I'm going to continue with my site but consider it a learning curve. I've come to a simple conclusion:

You cannot make money selling books.

The cost of promoting a site will always be greater than the income from sales. From what I've been reading, a conversion rate of 1% is considered good. Not superb but around average.

That's 100 times 5c ($5.00) minimum expenditure to generate one sale - for 60c?

At 5% commission you'd need a product selling at $100 to break even.

Now consider that keywords going for minimum bid wont bring much traffic anyway.

I'm hoping with Adsense and a few other affiliate banners I might get the site to turn a very modest profit but heavy promotion doesn't seem feasible as an option.

With huge traffic Amazon can make real money, some associates earn thousands a month but if sticking to books and using only Amazon it doesn't look very promising.

If I'm wrong, and I hope I am, please let me know!



2:00 am on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well, keep in mind you don't need 100 customers to sell 100 items at Amazon. Customers often buy many items at one time. These days I expect to sell over two dozen items a day (on average; weekends are worse). And summer is my slow season.

You can make money with Amazon. If you are looking to get rich, well, that won't happen. But if you want steady income, that's quite possible.


1:59 pm on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Fairla, you are now my friend, it's official! :o)

May I ask, how do you find the quick-buying link? I.e the link/button that creates a 'buy now' button, as opposed to one that takes them to the book's page?

It's good in that it automatically places the item in their shopping cart but by the sound of it I may be better off if they can browse around the Amazon site?

I've only done the code for half of my books so far (all 34 of them, I'm still building the site) I may use the more conventional links for the rest, see if I can make a comparison.

I'm aiming for no more than 75 books max, with a review and details on each one, rather than a large mass, does that sound like a plan?

May I also ask, what level of traffic do you get?



2:06 am on Jul 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Here is info on creating the quick-buy links:


Personally I think it is better to let people browse around the Amazon site rather than putting items directly in their carts, but I guess it depends on the type of site you have, and the type of visitors. Mine is not a shopping site; it's a content site and I'm mostly relying on impulse buying related to my topic (trying to get visitors interested enough to buy books or DVDs).

If you're going to use some of the regular links, you can code it like this: ISBN/ref=nosim/affiliateID

in other words, put ref=nosim after the ISBN number, and before your affiliate ID, and that will take the customer directly to the product page instead of to a page that says "You clicked on this item. You might also want to buy" bla bla bla. I think the ref=nosim links are much less confusing for customers.

Yes, it sounds like you have a good plan; how many books to list depends on the type of site you're building. I try to aim for repeat visitors and I encourage browsing by listing tons of books on the same topic in hopes visitors will comparison shop. I include a brief description of each book. But a full review is even better. It's great if you can give your visitors info about books that isn't available on the Amazon site, so they have a real reason to come to your site instead of going straight to Amazon.

I get between 5,000 and 15,000 unique visitors a day. At this time of year it's toward the lower end. I work hard to keep visitors coming back to my site so hopefully I will get repeat sales. It is a lot of work, but if you are patient Amazon can pay off for you, although probably not in a huge way. Good luck.


4:08 am on Aug 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thank you for that and sorry for the delay, my mouse died and it's taken me awhile to catch up on things.

5k visitors (15k!) a DAY? Heck, I'm chirpy if I can get that number in a month.

Hopefuly my new site, being a bit more specialist, will get more visitors or feature better in search engines. Right now some of the search strings people use which lead them to my site are really quite bizarre..


10:12 pm on Aug 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm lucky because I got started when it was easier to get webpages listed for free in search engines and directories. Hopefully your search traffic will improve over time. I know it's harder to get a site established these days, but don't give up too soon as long as you're enjoying yourself.


4:19 am on Aug 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Well I've just managed to log into my old email account in the UK, recover the password and have now downloaded my software (thought I was going to have to buy it again, in fact had they not whinged about a wrong postcode and accepted the order, would have done).

Likewise have found a ludicrously cheap hosting company which seems pretty good despite the price, so my 'business plan' is already looking a lot healtier!

I intend adding other adverts to the site, am toying with either Adsense (Google) or independent. I know Adsense aren't happy with other text adverts, will have to check and see if other people's banners are OK, if restrictions apply to the same page or the same site or what.

If you're getting (as an example) 5000 visitors and selling 'two dozen' items, ie 24 (you say 'more than', so let's call it 26)

5000 / 26 = 192, 100 / 192 = 0.52% conversion.

Average Amazon book, say $15 (many are less) @ 5%, is $0.75 per sale, roughly.

26 x 75c = $19.50 a day. Nice, I'd be happy with that but that works out as

19.5 / 5000 = $0.004 per visitor.

Divide that by 3 on the days you get 15,000 visitors.

I don't know of any marketing method, anywhere, where one can obtain visitors for less than half a cent each, let alone leave room for a profit on it.

Surely you could add an additional affliate or two, some banners or something and rake in a great deal more? Even the measly 1c a click offers would increase your profits by hundreds of percentage points?

After all, visitors have to go somewhere when leaving your site, why not have the odd tasteful advert for them to click on?

In fairness your conversion ratio is better than mine, from around 4000 visitors (a month *blush*) I've sold 4 copies of my book (total earnings for July, $19.31, so similar returns for the traffic) but a con-ratio of 0.001, ie 1/4 of yours. Most visitors to my site wouldn't know of my book, something I intend to change soon, now that I can update without adding adverts and pop-ups via the free version of my software.

The actual page advertising my book has a sales ratio of 1.52%, ie 4 sales from 260 visitors. If I can drive more traffic to that page I should earn considerably more.

I think the browsing option is the way to go, deffo. One sale of a digital camera or microwave or summat would equal a lot of books.

Do you have any other affilation thingies? With that traffic I'm sure you could make a lot more.



6:11 pm on Aug 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Actually many items sold are very inexpensive Marketplace items, so commissions can be lower than your estimate.

I am also affiliated with some other companies through CJ and Linkshare, and make a little money from both, but Amazon is my best affiliate earner.

And I have Fastclick ads, which perform much better than Amazon. I've tried Adsense but it's no good with my site. It's all a matter of finding what works on your site.


7:26 pm on Aug 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've heard that if a visitor goes to amazon.com from your site, serfs around amazon first, then makes a purchase, you don't get the commission. True?


8:17 pm on Aug 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

No Ray, you still earn providing they purchase or add to basket within 24 hours.

Fairla, sounds like you're doing all the right stuff :o)

Have just peeped at Fastclick, seems they insist on 3000 visitors a month (not sure if that's the site in general or for each ad?). Not too easy with a brand new site :o(

(Anyone know if Google has this same restriction?)



10:12 pm on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

That's for the site in general. (My site had been online five years before I applied.)


8:16 pm on Aug 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Am still plugging away at my site, should launch this month.

any tips to build traffic?



9:02 pm on Aug 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Get links from other related sites if you can. And of course, submit to the search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN). It used to be easier because you could submit your pages to the Yahoo directory, but of course they want money now. I won't pay for traffic. It seems to be impossible to get into DMOZ these days, too. You might want to try Zeal. Other than that, I don't have any useful tips, although I'm sure others here do.


9:00 pm on Aug 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm late to this discussion but have some comments in a couple of areas: Amazon vs. other bookstores, and for those of you interested in using PPC to get customers for the Amazon Associates program.

PPC first: In brief, it's probably not a good idea. There is a discussion board open to Amazon Associates, where this has been discussed in the past. Given the low cost of books, no one has made any money doing it. Some people claim to make money by featuring high-price Amazon items, but not books.

I have a book-related site. I do NO paid advertising at all. I spend little time working on it--it's more a hobby than anything. My site earns me about $100 to $150 a month from Amazon. If I spent more time on it, specifically on creating more detailed reviews of individual books, which I find convert the best, I'd be doing better.

Now, Amazon vs. other bookstores: I used to have affiliate links to Powells and B&N, on the theory that people might want to choose where to buy a book. I got rid of them. I got very few sales through their programs, and I think they lost me sales to Amazon--people would click through to them instead of to Amazon, and then not come back. And in fact, when I got rid of those competing links, Amazon sales went up significantly.

One last suggestion: Bookcloseouts.com They have remaindered and otherwise discounted new books, and pay 10% through CJ, more if you set up an affiliate account with them directly (at least, last time I looked, you could do this). If your visitors like bargains, they are a good option to offer, even if just a link to their home page.


10:29 pm on Aug 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Amazon converts very well for me. One heck better than the 1% you mentioned in a previous post. I use plain old boring ASIN links and have a conversion ratio of 10% this quarter and 9% last quarter.

Amazon more than pays for itself - at least if you aren't bidding on keywords. All my Amazon traffic is free traffic, and originates from my content pages. On average, I only send them about 70-90 clicks per day, yet this quarter I've made over $500. Nothing huge, for sure, but more than pays the hosting bill.

As far as I'm concerned, if you plan on promoting books on your site, Amazon is the only place to use. The mass of selection, the ease of use, the name brand recognition and the "trust" factor all conspire together to lead to great conversions once you build in links into your content pages.



10:49 pm on Aug 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for the encouragement :o)

A major concern I have with Amazon is that they ARE so big and well-known.

I have images of people simply deciding they'll probably buy it later and then going direct to Amazon when they do. Am I right in thinking they would still have the cookie or would accessing Amazon via Google wipe it out?

One chucklesome aspect of Amazon is the way people offer up their sites for review on the forum.

Strangely, people don't seem to do that here? ;o)



1:30 am on Aug 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The cookie stays for 24 hours and can only be wiped clean if you go through another affiliates site (insert disclaimers about toolbars etc).


5:23 am on Aug 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

About other booksellers, I've tried several and although Amazon is far and away the best, I have also had success with Alibris and Abebooks. If a book is out of print, I link to Alibris instead of Amazon, and if not's at Alibris I link to Abebooks.

Still, a lot of people will use my Amazon links to buy a used book there instead of Alibris. But I make regular Alibris sales and think it is good to give visitors a choice.

I wouldn't bother with B&N; I've never been able to make a single sale for them.


9:06 am on Aug 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Again, thanks for the info.

I'm also looking at Auible.com as a direct affiliate, in fact I'm not even sure if you get any com' via Amazon for audio books?

I know a number of people are unhappy about the iPod, as if the buyer signs up for some music club thingy the affiliate loses the sale. Certainly my impression is that Amazon is not to concerned about their affilates. The little tricks and low returns are what got into looking round at other set-ups, which is why I'm here, sniffing around.

I'm guessing it's a common route into affilate marketing?



11:21 am on Aug 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>> little tricks and low returns

Nonsense. Like any program you have to learn what works with them and what does not.

With bonus tiers and growth incentives and a little bit of traffic management you can easily get 10-12% on the sale. I convert at 7-20% depending on the link type and country.


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