Death of the “Buy Link”?

2015-Discussion-ChallengeWe 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'm Free Frozen Gif

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!

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39 comments

  1. I have never clicked on one on a book blog – nor do I think anyone has clicked on mine. I have clicked on “Buy” links on other types of websites though.

    Tanya Patrice
    Girlxoxo.com

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    1. I think other types of websites sometimes lend themselves to clicking buy links easier than book blogs. We tend to add books to wishlists and then hmm and ahh over them for a while before purchasing. Online book purchases don’t tend to be impulsive unless it’s an eBook on offer for 99p! R xx

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  2. Even I still barely ever use those links – and I was making a very conscious effort to try and do so. I figured I spend so much money on Amazon, if I could just remember to click on someone’s link before doing it, it would help a fellow blogger. Well, apparently, I’m a creature of habit – so much so that I COULD NOT remember to do this except very sporadically. And it just turned into a big pain and a point of frustration. If I think of it, I still use the links, but more often than not, I just go straight to Amazon.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. It would be a great idea for all of us to use someone’s, links wouldn’t it? Even for Book Depository or anywhere else. I would LOVE to make the conscious effort to, but like you I think I’m a creature of habit. I check Quidco first, but that’s about it! I don’t include links in my reviews anymore. They were never affiliate links anyways, as WordPress.com doesn’t allow them. But still, I just include a Goodreads link for more info. R xx

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  3. Yeah, I’m really not surprised either. I include the links (even though traffic on my blog is still sparse) as a convenience, though I also never use them myself.

    Like you said, I typically add books I might purchase to a wishlist or “interest” list and binge-buy when a good deal comes around.

    Still, I don’t know if I’m ready to kick the links yet. They just…look nice. Haha, it’s such a silly thing.

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    1. I thought they would be convenient for others too, but it appears they are just inconvenient for us! Binge-buying is definitely what I do, it’s the best way to go! Haha – I’ve already kicked them and published a review just before this discussion without them, it sounds silly but I did feel odd about it at first. I’m sure I’ll get used to the idea! R xx

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  4. I fully support you not doing it. I don’t do it, I agree book buyers generally won’t use it, and I try to stay out off the politics of where people buy books. Occasionally I receive books to review for audible and I will provide the site you can listen to a snippet of the book on those, but that’s as far as I go.

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    1. Thanks, Steph! I realised I was mostly doing it to keep my reviews uniform, and because I thought it was helpful for my readers. It’s proving to not be helpful because no one uses them, and really is there any point in doing them just to keep my posts looking the same? I think not! I’ve already posted one review without them, I’ll get used to not having them eventually!

      Excellent point you are making there about review books – I think if I was reviewing an ARC I may still include them as it would make up part of the promotional element of the post. I imagine publishers would appreciate that, at least. A lot of the books I’ve been reading lately are from my own collection though, and I won’t be including links in those. R xx

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  5. Great post. I have one affiliate purchase link and TBH I couldn’t be bothered to do more. I haven’t put a link to Goodreads though. Might have to look into it. I use the code thingy from GR’s to post to my blog and it auto links to certain things.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Stacey! I used to have 4 or more – because I have a lot of readers in the US and UK, I tried to cater for both. A link to Goodreads is SO useful, because I like adding books as and when I hear about them so I don’t forget. That way, I’m not committing to buy them then and there, but I always nosy through my shelves, so I’ll come back to it at some point. I don’t know how often people click on my Goodreads button, but I do it ALL THE TIME on other blogs, so it’s here to stay. Which code is it you use? Not sure I’ve heard of it before. R xx

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      1. Not at all! I’m just wondering what magical trick you have up your sleeve because I have to copy my reviews over from my blog to Goodreads, so I’m dying to know what you do for it to automatically copy links etc? R xx

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  6. Honestly, I’ve never considered including these links or even clicking on them after I read a review. I think the only reason I have to give is that if I’m actually going to buy something, I’d have my own resources (i.e. links/discount sites) that I use regularly instead of some catch-all one. Being an affiliate isn’t a terrible idea but maybe it just doesn’t fit the products it’s being used for.

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    1. I’m the same, J. I have my own shops I prefer to shop at for deals, or I tend to build up a wishlist and then go bonkers when a discount code is released. I think being an affiliate is a fab idea, if it actually worked. It just doesn’t seem to do much for the bookish community, not through buy-links anyways. It may be beneficial for YouTubers who are getting more traffic per piece, or if shops offer a commission incentive for using a certain promo code, but links in themselves don’t seem to offer a return. R x

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  7. When I first started blogging I put them there. But once I figured out that they aren’t used that often I quit adding them. It doesn’t save a ton of time but it does save having to find the link and adding it. And I don’t think I’ve EVER clicked on one now that I think about it. When I read reviews I usually scroll past all the tidbits to get to the actual review.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Samantha! I think for me it was also the tedious-ness of adding them. I was put off doing review posts for a while there, and the thought of getting those links just made me want to scream! Lol I’ve never clicked on a buy link in a review that I’m aware of, but there’s been LOADS of times I’ve went on to buy books bloggers have reviewed. I have clicked buy links when it’s a promo post and it’s an eBook on offer or something, but that’s a different kind of post entirely! R xx

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      1. Tedious is the perfect way to explain it, haha! It’s not “that” time consuming just a pain sometimes lol. I wonder if anyone else gets any clicks on those buy links. anyway. I mean I am sure authors love when we add them but if no one uses them then it’s not effective. Yeah promo posts are a whole different thing!

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      2. I really haven’t heard of any bloggers getting a response from their readers that they want the links to stay, and I don’t know any bloggers that make anything worth talking about from affiliate links. I do wish a BookTuber would give us an insight though – I wonder how the community differs in terms of viewer/reader interaction, and whether they see any benefit to including them. R xx

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  8. I used to only like to Goodreads and Amazon and I recently stopped linking to Amazon at all. I don’t think anyone has noticed to be honest, since you’re right. Those links are rarely ever clicked and even if they are it never results in a purchase.

    Great post!

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    1. Thank, Emily! It does seem to be the general consensus that they aren’t used, so I’ve removed them. I imagine lots of others will follow suit! R xx

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  9. I include links to Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble just because I like to give the reader a quick link to finding the book on their preferred site. I don’t even know how to do affiliate links. 🙂

    I myself use Goodreads and Amazon, but I rarely buy the book after reading a review. I usually will add the book to my Goodreads and Amazon wish list to keep an eye out if it becomes free or to wait until I have the money/gift cards to purchase the book. If the review doesn’t include the Amazon link but does include the Goodreads link, I can always find it on Amazon from Goodreads.

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    1. I used to include Amazon US/UK, Waterstones, Goodreads, The Book Depository, and sometimes The Book People if they stocked it. It just became a little much, and when I discovered no one actually uses them, I decided to reduce it to just Goodreads. I will include purchase links if it’s a promotional post or a review of an ARC though. I can’t use affiliate links on WordPress.com, but they take even longer to set up, and from what I’ve read, they offer very little commission, and that’s only when people shop from them, which again seems to be never. If I can shave some time off the time it takes to put a post together, I’m all for it! 😀 R xx

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  10. I guess it’s a habit or my standard ‘form’ to include the Goodreads and Amazon link. I use Amazon to read reviews, so even if people don’t click on it to buy it, they can see the reviews from my link. I have only ever included Amazon on my posts, just because I use it most and love it. I have never clicked on a purchase link in any review ever – so it’s definitely not even worth having on the post. LOL.

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    1. I think when we first start blogging we emulate what we see on other blogs as the “norm”, and lots of the layouts I saw included purchase links. I also thought it made the blog look more professional, and would maybe help me get ARCs as publishers would know I’m taking the time to help promote the book as well. Over time, I’ve realised that my blog needs to work for me, that no one seems to use these links anyways, and that taking them out doesn’t make my reviews look bad in any way. That, and I don’t really read ARCs because I have far too many books I’ve bought myself lying around! Lol They are gone for me! The Goodreads link is still there though, I use it loads!!! R xx

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  11. I used to include affiliate links but stopped adding them at the beginning of this year too. I kept it, so I could track the stats to see if anyone would use them I think I earned US$6 in the span of a year and that’s because whoever clicked on my link bought things that weren’t even the book that I reviewed. Haha.

    And yeah, hardly anyone ever clicked those buying links. Though the GR links are popular exits from my blog. Lol.

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    1. That’s the first time I’ve heard of anyone making money with them, Josephine! Good for you. Although it wasn’t much for the amount of time it probably took you to generate them over the course of the year. Lol – that it wasn’t a book purchase that generated it for you. I can’t use affiliate links so I can’t track mine as accurately, though I did use them for a short time before I realised you shouldn’t on WordPress.com, and I never noticed a lot of interaction with them. I have to include a Goodreads link, because I do feel as a community we use that site a lot, and links directly to a book’s page are useful for readers to add a certain book to one of their shelves. I know I use Goodreads links a lot! R xx

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  12. I use affiliate links to Amazon and B&N on my blog. While they don’t get used often, I do sometimes see sales through them.

    As far as using other bloggers links? It depends. I don’t usually buy a book at the time I read the review. But since I’m an Amazon Prime member, when I go on buying sprees (or just my usual weekly ‘need to get’) I go back to my favorite blogs and find an affiliate link to Amazon, click through it and do all my shopping. Just did the Christmas shopping earlier this week for my Niece and Nephew. Bought almost $200 worth of presents through 2 different bloggers Amazon links. I figure if I’m going to shop on Amazon anyway, I might as well click through and send some of the $$ to bloggers I like. It doesn’t take me more than a few extra seconds, so why not?

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    1. I don’t think many people buy the book when they read the review, but it’s great that you use other people’s links when you can to give back. I know some people have tried to do that, but then it can be difficult to remember too! It’s also great that you’ve seen a few sales through your links, you’re one of a small group as most don’t seem to see much action. Thanks for commenting! R xx

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  13. I have always included a link to Goodreads and Amazon since I started. For me it wasn’t a question of to do or not to do, but setting up the purchase links is time-consuming.

    I don’t use buy links in others’ posts. I don’t have time to visit them, mostly, and even if I did, I doubt I would use them.

    Rachel, I think you have started a revolution! I just might stop including mine. They certainly do nothing for me, either!

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    1. When I first started blogging I didn’t question including them either – but I do at least 4 stores per post – UK/US Amazon (the majority of my readers are US and UK based), The Book Depository (for the INT readers), and either Waterstones or The Book People (which are both UK stores, Waterstones because it’s one of our last high street book shops, and The Book People if they have the book in stock because it’s usually the cheapest place to shop). It is time consuming, but there’s something about having to put them in that was tedious as well, and put me off scheduling reviews when I knew I had to do them.

      Goodreads links on others’ blogs, I use those all the time! So I’ve kept mine in too. That’s how I add books to wishlists, or thinking-about-it lists, and then when I have a discount code, or there’s a promotion on somewhere, I use these lists to check prices for books I know I’ve been interested in at some point. It works well.

      Haha – is it revolutionary? At the very least I hope it’s maybe planted the seed to make people question why they do the things they do, rather than following the community standard because it’s always been there. Whether publishers like to see it or not, we don’t click them, and we don’t like making them, so we may as well get rid of them! R xx

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  14. I never click through a buy link, for many of the reasons you mentioned. I can’t imagine buying a book after reading one review, and when I am ready, I will look at the library and if not available, look for a good deal.

    I don’t think I’ve ever included buy links either, other than perhaps an occasional ‘blast’ post. They just seem to take more time than I am willing to spend.

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    1. They definitely seem to have outgrown their use! I think shopper’s habits have changed, but also when it comes to readers, like you say we don’t usually make a book purchase based on one review, so we’re more likely to add it to a wishlist and come back to it at a much later date. R xx

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