Amazon Changes Free Ebook Game

Attention, Readers! If you love free ebooks on Amazon and find them by visiting many of the blogs that post about them each day, you're in for a shock. Amazon has announced sweeping changes effective March 1 that will mean many of those blogs that list free books will disappear.

Those blogs earn revenue by visitors who click the links to grab a free book. Each book link has a referral code embedded in it that means the blog publisher, who usually doesn't have paid advertising on his blog, gets revenue from affiliate referral commissions.

If you click a link for a free book and also purchase something else during that Amazon session you initiated, the blog owner gets a variable commission based upon the sale price and the item purchased. This never increases the cost for the buyer, but it always results in revenue for the blog owner.

Change Is Coming

Last week, Amazon sent out email updates to everyone who participates in their affiliate program. (I'm one.) What they're going to do basically amounts to killing the referral commission program for those who list free books. Blogs that list free books and are dependent on referral income are already taking steps to roll with this punch.

My friend Mike Gallagher who writes Free Kindle Books and Tips blogged about this yesterday. By the way, the name of Mike's blog will change to Kindle Books and Tips, but the URL ( remains the same.

Books on the Knob has decided to set up a second website to list free books and will keep it going as long as they have time to handle two websites. They will use their original website to feature special deal books that aren't free for which they can still receive affiliate income.

You'll see changes in all websites that feature free books. Many websites that listed free ebooks will be shut down, shifted to an alternate website just for the free books, as Books on the Knob is doing, or probably change their policies and start accepting advertising to replace referral income. Many that haven't charged authors to have their books listed in the past will now do so.

For Authors: Good News/Bad News

The good news for authors is that the price point of ebooks should rise when the exposure for free ebooks diminishes. Just about all authors agree that ebooks are undervalued. Many authors have a tough time making sales when they're competing against 1,000's of free ebooks. Just today, there are over 7,000 free ebooks available on Amazon. Perhaps without all the exposure offered by the "free ebook" blogs, the 99cent ebook will once again reign supreme as the bargain book to introduce readers to your writing.

For Readers: Bad News

Of course, readers will decry the loss of so many free ebooks. However, the quality of all those free ebooks is terribly inconsistent. Many are excellent, but it seems more are not very good.

Just this past weekend, I downloaded about a dozen free ebooks in these genres: Romance, Mystery, Paranormal. I ended up deleting all of them after reading the first few pages. Why? Because of illogical characterization, faulty plot execution, and grammatical errors. Yes, all that in the first few pages!

There are many who think the badly written ebooks that are often free taint all ebooks with the reputation of being poorly written.

Takeaway Truth

My advice? Give the books that aren't free a chance. Take a free sample. Read it. If you like it, buy it. There are tens of thousands of low-cost ebooks just waiting for you to discover them.

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