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1. Books are low price items. Average price around $10/book for most paperbacks or even less. I used to have a amazon bookstore site and I was making average 56 cents per book sold for fiction and Harry Potter etc. Needless to say you can not go for PPC ads to generate traffic with that kind of margin. Conversion rates at around 1/70 are once again nothing to write home about.
2. Search for any specific best selling book on google and chances are amazon will be #1 and barnesandnoble #2. They are not easy to beat because they have a huge numebr of incoming links. Search for "book store" or "bookstore" on google and they are once again there at the top.
3. The major issue is that people are now aware that if they have to buy a book then amazon or BN is the place to go. They mostly go directly to these sites to find books and read reviews of books instead of searching on search engines for books.
5. Having said that you should go for speciality bookstore only (if you must). I shifted my focus to selling software engineering, Oracle and Linux related books only for a few months before I decided that $20 or so that I was making per month were not the right compensation for the work that I was doing in updating the site and getting reciprocal links etc. That effor when put into some other products can produce much better financial results.
6. Commissions are paid after 3 months that is the major negative points. Many good merchants pay their affiliates every 15 days and some even pay every week. Even CJ.com pays once every month.
Amazon bookstores or affiliate links are great for content sites that contain large number of pages of original content. But even they are able to hardly pay for hosting out of amazon's commissions. For stand-alone sites that use some commercial script to generate bookstore they are not worth the trouble.
Hope you do not mind my long reply.
As far as cookies go, according to Amazon's FAQ, "You may earn a referral fee for any qualifying items placed in a customer's shopping cart during a 24-hour window."
The amazon operating agreement says:
"We will not, however, pay referral fees on any Products that are added to a customer's Shopping Cart or are purchased via our 1-Click™ feature after the customer has reentered our site (other than through a Special Link), as determined by us, even if the customer previously followed a link from your site to our site."
What does it mean? A customer goes to the your-bookstore.com in the morning, click on a link on your-bookstore which leadds him to amazon. There he read review of a book, check shipping cost and then close the browser window. In the evening he re-enters the amazon.com an put a book in shopping cart and pays for it to complete the transaction. You will *NOT* get any commission for that book.
I think the confusion is a result of this statement in that agreement:
For a Product sale to be eligible to earn a referral fee, the customer must click-through a Special Link from your site to our site, and add the Product to his or her shopping cart or purchase the Product via our 1-Click™ feature during a session. The session ends upon one of the following events: (a) 24 hours elapses from the customer's initial click-through, (b) the customer orders the Product, or (c) the customer follows a third party's Special Link.
What it means is that if a customer puts a book in shopping cart after he enters amazon.com from your-bookstore.com then he has to make payment in 24 hours. If he makes payment after 24 hours then affiliate nothing or at least this is my understanding of the rules.
Having said that I have to repeat what I said in my initial post that speciality bookstores *can* do well but is the effort worth it?
The same time and effort can be better spent on promoting big ticket items like say video game consoles. But then why not choose a merchant which offers at least 15 days of cookies?
Can you make money at Amazon, for sure. However as Ithink mentioned after working on my site for about two weeks (I am full time and can crank out a good number of pages in two weeks) I watched to see how much my income would increase from Amazon with my addtional pages promoting them.
That being said it is a tough cookie to crack. Last pay period I think I made $800 bucks or so, rember that is for a three month period. Another point to remember with any affiliate program is the money you make has not been taxed yet so you should at least set 47% of it aside.
Most affiliates will never see any more than 6.5 % commision, even on high end items you will only see between 5 and 10 bucks.
Amazon.com is a good program, you can count on them. However after working there program and "testing" them out I found I could do so much better with other programs.
My main program produces as much income in one day as I can make with my little test run with Amazon in three months. I am still looking for other good programs to promote simply because I like to branch out.
I have my high producing program and will always continue to push that but I do not want to have all my eggs in one basket.
Good Luck ;-)