About a year ago, a publisher castigated one of my authors for tweeting an Amazon link to her book. Barnes & Noble keeps an eye on such activity and had gotten angry in the past. She wasn’t the first author to be told this.
Whether it’s true or not, every author is urged to include buy buttons for all the major retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, iBookstore, IndieBound, Powell’s, and the publisher’s web page for the book.
Borders used to be listed, but no longer. RIP, Borders.
Everyone understands the value of including buy buttons for all, right? Seems like a no-brainer. No one would argue that Amazon should get all the online sales, right? Supporting the other retail options is more important than ever in the wake of Amazon’s monopolistic and predatory tendencies.
As agents, it’s not enough to talk the talk (although that’s important). We also need to mean what we say.
So it came as a huge shock to me to learn that there are many literary agencies that are linking solely to Amazon. Some have even set up affiliate programs to earn money on sales made after clicking through from their sites. These agencies represent thousands of authors—authors who make appearances at struggling brick-and-mortar stores and who depend on a healthy, vibrant book-selling industry.
As I visited website after website, I was happy to see that out of 88 sites, 69 have no store links or multiple links (and 2 link only to IndieBound). The standout of the bunch is also arguably one of the most successful independently owned literary agencies—The David Black Agency—where there is a wide selection of buy buttons for each title.
Unfortunately Joy Tutela, an agent with The David Black Agency, maintains her own site where Amazon links are plentiful.
Personally I think it’s in an agency’s best interest to direct visitors to author web pages, but if you’re going to direct them to buy, at least do it under the same rules your authors have to follow.
I found 17* literary agencies that link only to Amazon. In many cases, the Amazon links are hidden as click-thru links from the covers or titles, so it’s not as obvious.
The alphabetical list is here:
- The Laura Dail Literary Agency (Note: LDL is an Amazon affiliate.)
- Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency (Note: Liza is a member of the AAR Board of Directors)
- The Lisa Ekus Group (Note: LEG uses an Amazon widget as an Amazon affiliate.)
- Hartline Literary Agency
- The Knight Agency
- The Jud Laghi Agency
- Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, Inc.
- Lippincott Massie McQuilken
- The Literary Group (TLG is an Amazon affiliate.)
- Manus & Associates
- McCormick & Williams
- Trident Media Group (Note: Occasionally there are B&N buy buttons, but Amazon is the default for all cover click-thrus.)
- Waxman Literary Agency (recently renamed The Waxman Leavell Literary Agency)
- Weed Literary
- Zachary Schuster Harmsworth
I hope that by calling attention to this, these agencies will change their practices. If we want publishers and booksellers to play fairly, agents should too. Sending the message to site visitors and to your authors that Amazon is the preferred bookseller is simply not good business.
UPDATE #1: Since I posted this, I’ve found four more agencies that do not link only to Amazon, and four more that do.
That makes 21 out of 96.
*UPDATE #2: I am happy to report that one week after posting this, an agency on the list of 17 changed its Amazon-only buy buttons and is now offering links to Amazon, B&N, and IndieBound. I hope the rest will follow suit.
* The views and opinions expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my authors or affiliates.