With more and more authors signing onto Indies First, now is the time for ABA members to promote the IndieBound and IndieCommerce affiliate programs to ensure that a buy button for indie bookstores appears as the first purchasing option among other choices on authors’ websites. At the core of the grassroots movement initiated by Sherman Alexie is the belief that authors can be superheroes for a day by spending Small Business Saturday, November 30, handselling at their favorite independents, but another crucial aspect of the movement is to encourage online customers to always shop indies first and for authors, especially those who are scheduled to appear at indie bookstores, to link to their favorite indie or to the network of IndieBound bookstores.
In becoming an IndieBound affiliate, a business or individual has the opportunity to promote indie bookstores while earning a commission on each sale. Affiliates can link to any page on IndieBound.org, including the Indie Next List, the results of a book search, or a Wish List, and if a sale results from that link, the bookstore adds to its bottom line and the affiliate earns a commission.
For Kristen Eaton, marketing and events manager for Burlington, Vermont’s Phoenix Books, it has become a personal mission to spread the word about the IndieBound Affiliate Program. Since many people don’t know that they can purchase online from an indie store, Eaton said that she always mentions the program to local authors and others who come to the store for events. She even encourages shopping locally when she’s off the clock by mentioning the affiliate program to friends and has set up an IndieBound affiliate account on her personal blog.
“I think it seems counterintuitive to a lot of people to link to a local store online,” said Eaton. “Of course, IndieBound solves that problem by connecting all of us local bookstores. If more blog links and Facebook links were to IndieBound pages, it would help folks discover their local stores instead of just defaulting to Amazon.”
States where Amazon has terminated its affiliate programs rather than collect and remit sales tax provide a great opportunity for stores to promote the IndieBound affiliate program as an alternative, she added.
In addition to the IndieBound Affiliate Program, there’s the IndieCommerce Affiliate Program, which allows ABA member stores with IndieCommerce websites to offer businesses, institutions, and individuals a similar –– and even more localized –– arrangement. Through IndieCommerce, affiliates of a participating bookstore can point readers directly to that store’s site. IndieCommerce tracks customers who follow the affiliate’s link, and if a sale results, calculates how much the affiliate has earned. Then the store is responsible for paying the affiliates directly. This program is especially beneficial for bookstores who work closely with schools or other institutions in their communities.
Booksellers are encouraged to promote their affiliate programs on their websites, in-store, and via social media.