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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About Rachel

Avid reader & book blogger. Lover of Business. A fan of drinks & dancing. Ever optimistic. Feminist.

39 Responses

  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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  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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  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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  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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  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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  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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  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. 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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  8. […] it wasn’t until Samantha @ Spines and Covers commented on my recent discussion post about the death of “buy-links”, that I discovered Blogmas is a thing too. I have used Samantha’s beautiful graphic for this […]

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  9. 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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  10. 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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  11. Brandie

    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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  12. 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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  13. 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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  14. 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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  15. 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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  16. […] Affiliate Links: Links many bloggers/vloggers put in their content, leading directly to a website where you can purchase a particular item, in this case usually books. Bloggers/vloggers will make a very small commission for any sales generated through these links. They are often time-consuming to add to content, and are rarely ever clicked. […]

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