August 14, 2012
A belated tribute to my silent majority
I pay far too much attention to what people say in the Comments section of boj and via direct email, such that a mean but spot-on criticism or remark can ruin my whole day.
I know — you wouldn't think I'd be all that sensitive but I am, even though at the same time I really don't care what anyone thinks.
A contradiction but in a quantum world two opposites can exist simultaneously as long as you don't try to figure out which one's currently active.
I read that somewhere in a book.
But I digress.
Jack Kent Cooke memorably remarked, "Never complain. Never explain."
I consider those four words mission critical to my world view.
Almost as much as these: "The hard way is the best way. Not because it is the hard way, but because it is the best way."
That's from a letter to the editor of the New York Times magazine circa 1990.
But I digress yet again.
All of which is a prelude to my decision to make future changes to bookofjoe based on what's best for me — without annnouncing or justifying them — with the thought that if you like what you see, you'll be fine with whatever I decide.
If not, hey, you'll be like Gray Cat (below, caught napping)
and vote with your virtual feet* and click away in a Podunk town yoctosecond, never to return.
At least, not for a long time.
But I'm still digressing.
What's my problem?
Don't go there.
Where was I?
Ah, yes, Gray Cat.
Hold on... oh, yeah, changes to bookofjoe.
The last time I had one of these virtual one-way town halls, I got all manner of flack from some longtime readers and fans about how I should be happy just to produce boj and have people read it, and that attempting to make money with it was venal and beneath contempt.
One reader said he buys stuff from Amazon only after making sure he doesn't use my link — or that of anyone else who's an Amazon Associate — so as not to add his few pennies to our commission income.
I just don't get that.
If something doesn't hurt you and helps someone else, why wouldn't you do it?
I mean, that's my default approach to life, sometimes leading me to bend over backwards and go out of my way to do what I can to enable someone else's internet or real world success.
Yes, if you go to Amazon via the box in the upper right up top, I get a commission of from 4%-7% of the purchase price of anything you happen to buy — and it doesn't cost you one red cent.
What's wrong with that?
The hundreds of hours a month I devote to the 240-odd posts I put up every month, that should be free?
But it is — the way we like it.
There's no subscription fee — never has been and most likely never will be.
So that I want to cash in to whatever extent I can without charging you anything, and finally have a way to do so, that's un-American?
I don't think so.
But only in the past few weeks, after discussions with some of my best bookofjoe friends, did it come to pass that I finally — finally, after all these years! — realized that 99% of my readers will never comment and never email me but are just happy to be here and visit because they like what they find.
The 1% who decry my efforts to gather a few pennies here and there — without sticking a knife in my readers' backs and demanding cash up front — well, too bad, it's been nice.
The other 99%, my wonderful silent majority, I love you more than ever and I say it right here, right now, in public.
And when I put something up top under the Amazon box about using it as a transit point instead of going there directly, well, I suspect you'll not be capable of caring less.
As it should be.
*That was one messed-up simile, wasn't it?
August 14, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Permalink
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Happy. Only comment or send an email once or twice a year, normally some minor correction.
I have no problem with affiliate links, and while Mike's comment that affiliate links increase Amazon's price for items I buy that come to my attention through bookofjoe is probably true (I'm going to ignore the fact that trying to assess profit margins on products from the company's overall profitability is unadulterated bullshit and bad logic), I don't care. I automagically screen out ads, and if this seamless, relatively painless way helps me funnel a little cheese to boj, that's great.
In fact, I am so much a fan of affiliate links, I think Joe should add a "Support boj, buy from Amazon using this link" link, right there with About me, Email me, Subscribe to this blog's feed.
Posted by: Scott Jenkins | Aug 16, 2012 1:55:55 PM
Per your nomenclature and my cite of a source: aren't the majority of your followers the Grateful Dead?
Keep on Truckkin. I'm hiding from the Dire Wolf in Deep Ellum while a Touch of Grey adorns your image, but Casey Jones has trouble ahead and trouble behind, and - you know that notion just crossed my mind.
Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Aug 15, 2012 3:42:34 PM
I'm with Nathan on this.
A lot of times I buy from sites like Joe, I saw something I would have never in a million years have thought of buying, and pick it up.
There is a value to this, and places like Amazon are willing to split the difference to a degree.
To me this attitude is like saying Hey Pepsi Has A Billion Dollar Ad Campaign With Gaga...I'm Going To Buy Coke Because It Means I Registered My Discontent That A Few Pennies Of My Soda Is Going To Someone That Isn't Me. Even if you call the CEO of pepsi yourself and register this complaint, he's gonna say Cool Story Bro and continue making commercials.
That said, I've bought Joe's book (twice), another person's book he had his work featured in, and a few other things -- not because I needed it, but because running my own site, I know people have helped keep my site alive in many of the same ways.
I understand where Mike is coming from, but in the end, his fight is futile. That said, getting his contribution is as well.
Posted by: clifyt | Aug 15, 2012 2:34:54 PM
Amazon recoup the costs because the 1% of the blogs which add value and use affiliate links prompt folks to buy stuff they may not otherwise have bought (as Tara points out below). A lot of the stuff Joe features would otherwise have never crossed my radar, and I've bought a fair share of them (hopefully always using the affiliate link). It also encourages folks to shop at Amazon where they otherwise may not have.
While retail margins on some things are quite low, on other things they are in fact quite high (I'm sure Amazon love it when Joe links to an ebook, as that's nearly pure profit for them). If Amazon didn't make money off the affiliate program (thus forcing them to increase prices on certain items, as you posit) then they wouldn't do it. Plain and simple. They're not in the charity business.
That said, I'm personally glad you took the time to explain why you don't use the links (even if I disagree with your reasoning) because I'm sure it's less discouraging to our fine proprietor here than "I don't like your stuff and I don't want you getting any money, even if it's not mine".
Posted by: Nathan | Aug 15, 2012 1:31:48 PM
I'd like to explain why I don't click on anyone's affiliate links to Amazon; never have, never will. Don't take this as an admonition to do as I do. It's merely my personal reasoning.
At the time of that post some weeks ago, I made a remark about "money for nothing," but that was more in regard to sites that offer no added value (that is, 99 out of 100 sites pointing you at Amazon, with 98 of those 99 operated solely by robot code). boj of course adds value.
Here's my underlying concern about all affiliate links: I firmly believe that commissions do cost all Amazon buyers considerably more than a red cent, and I don’t want to click on any affiliate’s links because I want prices to stay where they are.
Have a look at Amazon’s margins. They are most certainly not 4-7%. Almost nobody’s are, unless you’re talking about getting soaked for a cable at Best Buy or a button battery at Radio Shack. I figure Amazon is most often losing most if not all their margin and then some when paying commissions.
Amazon made a net profit of US$130 million on sales of $13.18 billion last quarter. That's a 1% margin, down from about 1.35% the same quarter last year, mostly due to Kindle R&D. I don't think they’re in business to give affiliates free money, so that dough has got to be shuffled around from somewhere. My line of thinking is that items are either priced commensurately with the number of affiliate-linked purchases, or prices Amazon-wide are raised by half a percent here or a quarter of a percent there to offset such losses. The simple equation is that when there are more commission sales, the more prices will need to go up. You can't make money by losing money.
"Hater"? Hardly. I like Joe and think he should do whatever he wants. It's his site, and moneymaking doesn't bother me. Pointer-out of things not everyone wants to hear? Yes, annoyingly so at times -- ask my coworkers. Cheap bastage who never pays retail and is always scheming on how costs can be kept down, even indirectly? Yup.
Posted by: Mike Harney | Aug 15, 2012 10:17:09 AM
I've tried to do this, but I always wonder if it shows up or not?
And then I wonder OMG! What if my purchases show up!!!
My girlfriend use to order through mine...and then I realized I could see what she was buying! Shouldn't have told her.
Posted by: clifyt | Aug 15, 2012 8:26:03 AM
Posted by: sherlock | Aug 15, 2012 4:11:07 AM
Well I'm all for it, always have been. I think you should put more stuff on there. A tin cup for Gray Cat! Comments, fifty cents! (To read. A dollar to make.)
Posted by: Flautist | Aug 15, 2012 1:29:32 AM
The second-best thing about your Amazon box is that it gives me that extra nudge I need to buy utterly unnecessary yet delightful objects (yesterday: _Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die_ and the Umbra Penguin Soap Dispenser!).
Very best thing: keeps my favorite blogging anesthesiologist in lollipops (and his cat in catnip!)
Posted by: Tara | Aug 15, 2012 1:11:53 AM
Well, I do comment occasionally, but mostly I just enjoy your posts. And I'd never try to circumvent the affiliate links ... what a silly thing to do! Some people, I swear.
Posted by: Katherine @ Grass Stains | Aug 15, 2012 12:06:21 AM
Haters gonna hate.
Posted by: Nathan | Aug 14, 2012 1:36:14 PM
I made an Amazon link and pointed to boj, there's just not anything I want to buy now. Later though, probably. Thanks for your words.
Posted by: yogahz | Aug 14, 2012 12:35:24 PM
Ditto. Thanks for your efforts, Joe. I pass your blog others, who are so appreciative.
Ditto, changed my Amazon link too.
Posted by: Kay | Aug 14, 2012 11:47:27 AM
Quite a few times, I've followed your recommendations, purchased handy items from Amazon, and found them to be just as useful as you suggested.
So while I don't comment often, please add my name to the roster of those who see nothing wrong at all with you garnering a few cents from your excellent recommendations.
Posted by: Rob O. | Aug 14, 2012 11:38:20 AM
In 1902, Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan made use of the phrase "silent majority" in a speech: "great captains on both sides of our Civil War have long ago passed over to the silent majority, leaving the memory of their splendid courage."
Joe, we buy through your link and we enjoy visiting your little slice of the Internet every day. All 6.02*10^23 particles are in agreement: good job!
Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Aug 14, 2012 11:16:05 AM
Thanks for the Amazon link. Changed mine.
Posted by: Paul Biba | Aug 14, 2012 10:36:09 AM
Oh forget the haters, this place is, and has long been awesome. Some of these idiots that make silly comments are having a bad day, are 12, or just need to get a life. You're doing it right, keep doing it.
Well, except for rss feeds. Get on the rss feed train, man! Haha!
Posted by: Jeff | Aug 14, 2012 10:18:37 AM
P.S. In case anyone else wants an easy way to do this, just go to the bookmark you use for Amazon and edit the url to: http://www.amazon.com/?&tag=bookofjoe-20&linkCode=wsw&
Posted by: Carol Feldman | Aug 14, 2012 10:18:26 AM
I am one of the minions that is just thrilled you are always there with something interesting for me to look at. I'm glad you mentioned the Amazon box, because the last time you did, I thought I made a mental note to change my Amazon link to go through yours- but I guess I forgot all about it. This time I did it before moving on to the next post.
Love Always, Carol
Posted by: Carol Feldman | Aug 14, 2012 10:12:14 AM
Hear, Hear! Exactly the right attitude.
Posted by: Paul Biba | Aug 14, 2012 10:08:31 AM
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