Amazon cracks down on pointing readers out free Kindle books

imageI don’t like paying for eBooks. There I said it. I have paid for eBooks but I tend to look for the free ones. As a result I’ve subscribed to various feeds and mailing lists that specifically point out new free books from the various major players. A few days ago I received an e-mail from one of them, the Daily Free Kindle Books Newsletter, that said the following:

Effective March 1st, 2013, in conformance with Amazon’s new regulations, we have had to put our daily Free Kindle Books email on hold for our US subscribers.

Not being a follower of’s various specific policies I wrote the sender back and asked them to point me to the policy that caused this reaction. Here’s what they pointed me to:

Associates Program Advertising Fee Schedule – Limitations on Advertising Fee Rates for Certain Products

March 1, 2013 version
The following is added at the end of the sub-section:

“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.”

I have a few thoughts on this:

First, it sounds like too many of Amazon’s affiliates are pointing people to free books which are being massively downloaded. As I read it, Amazon feels that too many people are downloading free content and not then paying for other content. Their was of solving this “problem”, penalize the folks that are making it easy to find the free content.

Second, this doesn’t necessarily prohibit such feeds and mailing lists from existing, just that someone would need to do them sans an affiliate link. However, this defeats the purpose of an affiliate link since if I clicked on a non-affiliate-based link to a free book, and then went on to buy a book that actually costs money, the person who pointed me in the first place won’t receive any credit for the “real” sale.

Third, Amazon doesn’t list sales figures but this reinforces my contention that free eBooks are one of the things that are overinflating what eBook sales figures there are. Basically, if it’s free, should it really be considered a sale?

Ultimately, this isn’t encouraging me to like any more when it comes to eBooks.

One Reply to “Amazon cracks down on pointing readers out free Kindle books”

  1. It’s actually against the Amazon Affiliate TOS to send links containing Affiliate ID’s in emails too, although it is kosher to send you to their website where the links containing the ID’s are available for you to click.

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