Fun and Games with Amazon and Kindle

This post is intended to be an update to my earlier post called: Why Your Ebook Is Really a Self-Contained Website – And How To Benefit from It

In that post I suggested, among other things, that you should include truly helpful affiliate links within your Kindle books and that if appropriate that some of those links could be Amazon affiliate links.

Two questions have surfaced since that post was published that are worth addressing:

First, The Future of Ink reader Cheryl Pickett commented that she was happy to hear that you could use affiliate links within your Kindle book.  That comment got me to thinking that I really had not covered within the post what Amazon’s TOS were regarding affiliate links within Kindle books.  So in reply to Cheryl’s comment and because I wanted you to consider this, I addressed the issue as follows:

Cheryl, let me post what the Amazon TOS content policy is here with regard to affiliate links. I will then provide my analysis of it.

Here is the key provision:

“You may not include in any Digital Book any advertisements or other content that is primarily intended to advertise or promote products or services.”

On the face of it this language would tend to proscribe use of affiliate links anywhere within your book. However, for me the operative word is “primarily”. In other words, did you include the link (or write the book) just to advertise whatever is on the other end of that link.

Answer: No.

You listed it primarily to assist the reader and be as I say in the post truly helpful to the reader. In fact, you are doing an injustice to your reader if you don’t show them exactly what you are talking about or referring to. By the way, this holds true for any link or resource you mention in your book whether paid or free; affiliate or non-affiliate.

Further, had Amazon intended to exclude all advertisements in the ebooks it could have just as easily included a sentence like this:

“You may not include in any Digital Book any advertisements or other content that advertises or promotes products or services.”

With all of that said it’s possible that Amazon does something goofy and slaps you. But if you concentrate on putting out high quality books using these affiliate links only conservatively along with links to other resources you should be fine.

One last thing: When you look at the language Amazon does use it’s pretty clear to me that this provision is designed primarily to thwart Spammers who’ll publish junk books just to fill them cover-to-cover with affiliate links.

The second question came from the other direction.  Namely, a reader was curious about whether you can include Amazon affiliate links in any ebook (including Kindle) as I suggested in my post.  Finding nothing addressing the issue within the terms of service this reader straight up wrote Amazon and asked directly.

Here’s a quote from the response:

“…Associate Links, Widget, and the aStore URL, can only be embedded in approved Internet websites, and are Not permitted to be used in e-mails, e-books/Kindle Books, newsletters, or in any other off-line manner.”  (Emphasis is mine.)

I was stunned!

I had previously read through the Amazon Associates TOS and never came to this conclusion.   Yes, it was always clear that you could not advertise or promote your Amazon affiliate links “offline” but I was somewhat incredulous on learning Amazon’s position with regard to Kindle and eBooks.  I mean after all the whole title of my post revolved around the fact that your Kindle/ ebooks are in fact self-contained websites that can and do reside online.

Personally, I think Amazon’s policy is goofy but apparently it is their policy.  Consequently, I want to give you another way to skin this cat.

In light of both of these issues (affiliate links generally and Amazon affiliate links specifically)  what I recommend is that you devote a page on your blog to all the resources mentioned within your book whether they are free or paid; affiliate or non-affiliate.  By the way, you should have a smattering of all these in my humble opinion.

So instead of linking directly to an affiliate offer or Amazon product listing from your Kindle book you take readers through a link to the specific area on the blog page that corresponds to whatever the link refers to.  In other words, you’re not taking people to the top of the blog but rather taking them to a specific location on the page that refers to the applicable resource you are referencing.

This is accomplished by means of an “anchor link.”

In case you don’t know how to do this I made this tutorial video for you …

One last caution:  If you are going to use your Amazon affiliate link on your site you must include a statement of the relationship between you and Amazon.  According to Amazon’s TOS  you must:

“clearly state the following on your site: ‘[Insert your name] is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [insert the applicable site name (amazon.com, endless.com, amazonsupply.com, or myhabit.com)].’”

In conclusion, even with these work arounds, I still believe it is well worth including truly helpful affiliate links for your readers as long as you make them stop by your blog first.

 

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Comments

  1. Brilliant post and really clear video. I have quite a few links in my ebook explaining kit for a certain sport and need a resource page…just wonder if folk will complain I’m taking them to my resource page. Can only test these things! Thank you.

  2. Got it! that’s what I’ve been sharing as well Daniel. I love having a central resources page – (and I’ve been thinning mine out) – it helps me find my own links when I need them …. Thank you for the clarity.

  3. Daniel, this article helps to demystify a few things for me. I’d heard of the policy but was not exactly sure what they meant. Here’s another question that might provide a “work-around” to be able to promote your own books, in your Kindle books, on Amazon. Specifically, I live in a state that does not allow me to be an Amazon affiliate. So does that mean that if we include links to others of our books, withOUT using an Amazon affiliate link, that we can add this reference? Hmmmm. Whatcha think?

  4. After some thought, I can certainly see Amazon’s stance on this. I side with them.

    The purpose of the Associate program is to bring in customers, not snag people who are already buying on Kindle and take a cut. They actually refer to it as an “advertising program” in the disclaimer posted above “Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com”.

    But, yes, they should make it clearer in the terms. And, issue a warning to first-time offenders rather than assuming that someone is intentionally breaking rules – when it really could be an innocent mistake.

  5. Daniel, I really appreciate the quick response to these questions and concerns. I’ve been hearing conflicting advice about this, and your research gives the clearest explanation I’ve seen.

    Your work-around makes good sense, and while it adds a step for the reader (which is why it’s so aggravating and seemingly countintuitive for Amazon to impose it), it could actually generate a lot more traffic to our websites.

  6. Hey Daniel, Thanks for the update. As if authors/publishers don’t have enough to worry about, I agree with the others that Amazon could certainly make things easier considering how hard they are working to woo authors to publish and sell through them vs. anywhere else. Your work around makes sense. When all else fails, back to the basics 🙂

  7. Thanks for posting this update Daniel! Yes, Amazon doesn’t make their language very clear. I use regular affiliate links as resources in all my Kindle books, and recently revised my Amazon affiliate links to comply with their TOS. What I discovered is, it’s not an Amazon KDP rule, but an Amazon Associates (Affiliates) rule, and most people don’t look in the Associates TOS with regards to Kindle books, just KDP TOS.

    I do wish they’d clear up their languaging in both TOS to make it easier on newby authors, especially since I know some people who have gotten “slapped” (ie: accounts stripped & banned from KDP altogether) in a way that damaged their ability to keep publishing Kindle books under their own name.

    To me, I agree with your earlier post that Amazon should allow their own affiliate links, as that drives more traffic back to them for more purchases, and by the author recommending a product on Amazon, that is a recommendation (ie: affiliate) that should earn a commission. Especially since the reader probably wouldn’t go purchase that product without the recommendation in the first place.

    Ah well, until they change it or make it more clear, your suggestion of rerouting to a resources page on our own websites is ideal. 🙂

  8. Daniel, thanks so much for researching this topic further and putting out this great update! And I agree…sometimes Amazon’s behavior is perplexing to say the least.