Beware the viewBook.at and viewAuthor.at link shorteners! (Video)
There’s an update to the post. Click here.
The viewBook.at link shortener service promises you one link to your Kindle book on the appropriate Amazon site for all regions.
That seems pretty cool until you realize what’s actually going on when you use their shortener.
Not only are you getting a short link, the service provider is adding a referral code to that shortened link, so that they get commissions off sales every time you use their short link.
You may say that’s not really an issue since they’re offering a free service, but my issue is that they’re not transparent about the fact that you’re driving commissions to them. Keep in mind that it’s about more than them just making a commission from the sale of one book. Whatever else the customer purchases while they’re in that Amazon session, viewBook.at will make commissions off those items, too. That means if someone buys an eBook for $2.99 through a viewBook.at short link, viewBook.at makes about six cents. If, in that same session, someone makes a $399 purchase, then viewBook.at is making a commission off the purchase of that item, too, and it’s considerably more than six cents.
This is a big deal if you, like me, have your own Amazon Associates account set up to make commissions off the referral links you create. The commissions I make from using referral links to Amazon help me make extra money to keep this site and several other sites running with a minimum of ads.
It’s also an FTC regulation violation for a company not to reveal that they’re being paid affiliate/referral income from a service/product they provide/promote.
Just to be sure my suspicions were correct, I did a test.
I created a referral link for a free eBook, The Complete Sherlock Holmes:
Notice at the end of this link, there’s tag=twitter-faydeon-20. That’s the part that lets Amazon know that you clicked on that link from one of my sites, and that’s how you found your way to Amazon.
I put that entire referral link into the viewBook.at shortener, and this is the link I got back:
Notice anything similar about their link and my link? Yes, it’s that tag=???-20.
This means that they’ve overridden my referral code with their referral code.
Look at the bottom of this site…
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Did you read that the Index has many referral/affiliate links and what happens when you click through those links?
Now go to viewBook.at and let me know if you see any information letting you know that they’re doing the same thing. Don’t forget to look in their Terms of Service, too.
But, wait… There’s more…
The folks who bring you viewBook.at also offer viewAuthor.at, which is another service that generates a referral link for your author profile on Amazon. That means if you use their shortener and someone clicks to view your author profile, and that person decides to purchase all the books you’ve written… you get the picture, right?
Anyway, driving commissions to the folks at viewBook.at and/or viewAuthor.at may not be an issue for you, and that’s totally fine. However, I think you should be aware of the fact that that’s why their service is “free.”
If you’re an author or publisher trying to make a little change by referring readers to your links, then viewBook.at and/or viewAuthor.at may not be the services for you.
What tweeters are saying about this article…
@faydra_deon Thanks for the heads up!
— Andrew McAllister (@a_j_mcallister) March 2, 2013
— eBookBuilders (@eBookBuilders) March 2, 2013