When I became the publisher at AAR, the site supported itself by the affiliate dollars it made from Amazon. Back then, Amazon gave us 10% of whatever books our readers bought via click-thrus from the site. Books, mostly paperback, cost somewhere in between seven to twelve dollars on average, so if a reader bought at ten dollar book, we got a dollar. It was glorious.
Then ebooks arrived and, over time, their price dropped. And around five years ago, Amazon cut the commission on book sales, ebook or no, to 4%. Now, in average month, our readers buy around a thousand books a month from us and the average price of a book is four dollars. The math is not on our side.
We’ve compensated for this, somewhat, with advertising dollars and with encouraging our readers to use our link to buy ALL their Amazon purchases from us. And we’ve hung in there.
However, in the past two months, Walmart Books (Kobo), Barnes and Noble, and Apple Books have all dropped their affiliate rate for books to 1%. I believe it’s a matter of time until Amazon does the same.
When that happens, I predict our Amazon income will be cut, at the very least, in half. And that, my friends, puts AAR’s survival in peril.
What should we do, dear readers? Some of you are already supporting us via PayPal–you are, every one of you, our favorite. And we’re grateful for all that all of you do. But, honestly, it may not be enough. What would work? Really, I don’t know. Given that AAR is an all volunteer site, there isn’t a lot of room for us to do more at this point.
What do you think? Should we consider a subscription model? What ways are there for us to survive? And if you don’t feel comfortable commenting here but have something to share, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And again, thanks for all you do!