A Question

I’ve been running vestige.org for just a touch over a decade now, and one thing that I have always, always, always said, is that I didn’t want the site to be about making money. No advertising, no affiliate links, no donations or sponsored posts or any of that nonsense. What you do on your site is your business, but I didn’t want any of that here. Most of my current readership was not around back when I used to be vocal about this sort of thing, so it probably won’t matter to you folks, but I remember it quite clearly, and it matters to me.

But.

This site isn’t very expensive to maintain, if you define “not very expensive” in relation to some kind of objective measure, like the average income for a thirty-something, university-educated white male living in Toronto. The thing is, I don’t make the average income for a thirty-something, university-educated white male living in Toronto, despite the fact that I am, well, blah blah blah, you get the picture. What I actually make (and I want to be clear I’m not complaining about my employer here, because my employer is pretty awesome) is considerably less than that. Enough less than that to make any purchase over $25 something that has to be budgeted for in advance. At that point running this site, yeah, isn’t hugely expensive, but it’s expensive enough that I feel it come budget time.

The point is, I’d like to apply for an affiliate program to help mitigate the cost of running this place, but I want to make sure that it’s cool with you folks first. I say apply, because that’s how it works over at McNally Robinson; you have to apply for membership in their program. That’s right, not Amazon.com, but McNally Robinson. There’s a few reasons why I chose their program as the one I want to apply for. I like their stores. I’ve visited the flagship store in Winnipeg, and their short-lived store here in Toronto, and every time the staff was courteous, knowledgeable, and not only did I find the (sometimes rare) books I was looking for, I often found books I didn’t know I was looking for. Also, they are a Canadian indie retailer, and supporting our independent booksellers matters to me. In addition, they do customer service really well. I was given a McNally Robinson gift certificate for Christmas, but was unable to redeem it before their Toronto location was closed, so I placed my order online. Before shipping my book, one of their staff noticed that I was using a gift certificate that, at the time it was given to me, should have been redeemable locally. So, without my asking for it, they picked up the tab for the shipping, and I didn’t have to pay a dime more than I would have if I’d walked into their store. They didn’t have to do that, but it was pretty awesome of them, and I’d like to see them succeed in the future. I also feel that linking to a retailer instead of directly to the publisher is good for the publishing/bookselling ecosystem here in Canada. If you buy from someone like McNally Robinson, not only are you supporting an independent retailer who is (in my opinion, anyway) worth keeping in business, but the publisher and the author will still get their cut. And the last reason why I’m choosing their affiliate program over someone like Amazon’s, is because Jeff Bezos eats kittens (not really, read the link).

If you folks give me the go-ahead, McNally Robinson accepts me, and I find the terms of their program agreeable, here’s what will change: almost nothing. When I mention a book, I’ll link to McNally Robinson. I’ll go back through the archives and add links to the books I’ve already reviewed. And I might, might add a small banner advertisement to the navigation menu on the right of the page, where my AugustBourré.com banner is now, if I can find one that I like (I am insanely picky about the aesthetics of this site, which is another reason I don’t like the idea of running ads). I would also add a text link to McNally Robinson in the menu bar. And that’s it. It would in no way affect the content of this site, or my editorial direction, or whatever you want to call what I do here. It will just mean a handful more text links, a single banner ad (no more than one per page), and maybe it will be a little easier for you to buy the books I talk about, if you’re so inclined. If it helps me out a little by dropping some silver in the coffers, then so much the better.

So is applying for an affiliate program okay with you? Let me know what you think in the comments, and thanks for reading and for contributing to the discussion.

Oh, P.S.: research and writing for The E-Books Post is going well, but it’s going to take more time than I thought. While you wait, I invite you to read The Sea As Hypertext, my first attempt at addressing electronic literature and the work of art in the age of digital reproduction (well, technically my third; I’d written two previous variations of that essay, both of which have been lost to the sands of time).

August

Writer. Editor. Critic.

7 Comments

  1. Hey August,
    As a reader of many blogs, I don’t have a problem with an affiliate program. Bloggers like yourself put a lot of time and effort into their work and deserve to be compensated in some small way. You’re usually linking out to the book anyway (presumably to encourage those who are interested to find more info or to buy it) and it is great that you’d use your affiliate program to support a Canadian independent book seller. As long as the ads aren’t abrasive to the reader, you’re not changing your content to create more ad space, or changing how you write about books or what books you write about to encourage more click-throughs, it seems a-okay to me.
    And thanks for the transparency!
    Erin.

  2. Yup, I agree with Erin. If it’s done thoughtfully there’s nothing wrong with an affiliate program. Great to see McNally Robinson get some support and as a publisher rep I agree totally that we need to support the bookstores. We all win that way. I really like the IndieBound org. features that the US independents have and wish we had something more like that here.

  3. Gus,
    As you know, anything that help keep the food on your table and the blog on the net is good for me. I probably don’t check in here as much as I should, so my opinion may not be as valid as your other more regular readers, but when I do, I always find something interesting and I think if you were made to do away with the site, it would be a sad day for many, myself included. So go ahead and affiliate away. McNally Robinson is a sweet store (and the brownies at their cafe are to die for!).
    Shawn

  4. Thanks for the feedback, folks. I feel a lot better about taking this step now.
    Shawn: Dude, I have known you literally for as long as I can remember. Your opinion is always valid.
    Also, for the record, even if I don’t get accepted into the program, the site isn’t going away. I’ll just continue to complain about money. 🙂

  5. Also, could you respell my name in your blogroll and add an ‘e’? Gracias.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *