Over the weekend, Hairpin editors Nicole Cliffe and Edith Zimmerman debated the merits of the Amazon Affiliate program, where sites get a cut of the money spent at Amazon when a reader follows a link from their site. The Hairpin makes “between $140 (most recently) and $1,100 (May 2012) a month, but it usually hovers around $300.” Zimmerman defends the practice:
Although if authors get the same amount of money regardless, I prefer linking to a place that saves the reader money. Honestly — and maybe this is the potentially shadiest part? — we get most of our Amazon Affiliates money from stuff that people buy after they click past the link to the book. Because they don’t always buy the books — they’re searching for, finding, buying tights, computers, random DVDs, etc. — but as long as they got to Amazon from the Hairpin’s link, we get 7% (or so — it varies) of whatever they buy.
Dustin Kurtz joins the the discussion:
[The Hairpin] asked the reasonable question: why should we stop linking to Amazon when it is this lucrative for us? I would like very much to answer that question at extreme and shouty length. But the joy of The Hairpin is that it was answered, in the comments, by some fairly knowledgeable folks. Their answers weren’t always as strident as mine would have been, but they were enough. One even linked to our site calling us, accurately, “avowed Amazon haters.” They pointed Zimmerman and Cliffe to the Powell’s and Indiebound affiliate program, for instance, which in many ways are a better deal for vendors than Amazon’s, and a world better for independent publishers and booksellers.