We all have our own standard review format, a layout that we copy again and again when we are putting a review together. Most of our reviews also have similar elements – a link to Goodreads, a book synopsis, a final rating. One element that many book bloggers include are “buy links” or purchase links – a quick and easy way for our readers to find out more about a certain book, and purchase it through an online bookstore.
I’ve always included “buy links” in my reviews. I never questioned them being there. It seemed logical to include them, and I imagined that publishers and bookstores appreciated them. BUT they take time to create. Granted, not a huge amount of time, but when you spend a lot of the spare time you do have reading books, reading other blogs, watching BookTube videos, and writing reviews, that extra time spent adding purchase links becomes precious (and tedious).
Of course, for some bloggers purchase links serve another purpose – they are affiliate links, which means when a reader clicks through to an online store and makes a purchase, a teeny tiny amount will be credited to the blogger for the referral. Unfortunately, I can’t include affiliate links on my blog as I’m hosted by WordPress.com, who don’t allow them. Initially, this was slightly upsetting, but I did a little research to discover if I was really missing out…
In April of this year, Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction wrote a post about affiliate links. Her focus was on whether or not bloggers are signed up as affiliates, and how we could consciously choose to use them when making our online purchases to support our fellow bloggers in some small way. A very excellent idea! However, I wasn’t sure if blog readers, in general, actually click through to online stores from book blogs there and then while reading a review, or if they would add the book to their Goodreads wishlist and go off searching for it in their own time at a later date. To find out the answer, I took to Twitter:
The results were both surprising, and pretty unanimous. Those who responded to my poll commented that adding links was a cumbersome process, that they don’t provide a return, and that they only include them in promotional posts (I’m paraphrasing!). This question was prompted by the fact that I rarely use the “buy links” provided on the blogs that I follow. Not because I don’t want to support the blogger, but because I search out the best deals possible when buying books, and that usually means holding out for a sale or discount code. Or sometimes I add the book to my thinking-about-it shelf on Goodreads while waiting for more opinions to determine if I actually need it in my life or not.
If I don’t use “buy links”, and the majority of the community aren’t using “buy links”, then why am I going to the bother of including them in my review posts (and mine aren’t even affiliate, so I’m really not getting anything out of it!). I’ve decided, after much deliberation, that I’m no longer including purchase links in my review posts. It will take a little getting used to as I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and my previous format always included them, so going forward I’m going to feel like something is missing from my reviews. On the other hand, I feel kind of FREE!
I am still including an “Add to Goodreads” button though, because I do use those a lot, and I think they’re helpful, but I’m no longer going to hunt a book down on 4/5 retailer websites and include links to them when they clearly aren’t necessary, and offer no real benefit to me or my readers.
What about you? Do you include purchase links in your reviews? Do you use purchase links on other blogs as a reader? Am I making a terrible mistake?! Let me know in the comments!