In a previous life I had the pleasure of working for the most insane CEO I have ever come across, Patrick Byrne. Patrick is known in the world for blaming business problems and large losses on Wall Street and Ninjas and Jedis that are trying to ruin his personal business. Patrick was a great guy to work for because he knew exactly how to squeeze every penny out of most deals, and was a very direct person when you got through the absurd back stories that preceded every situation you had to deal with. Today Overstock.com has Jonathan Johnson at the helm, a move that I typically thing is just to keep Patrick from dropping more of his crazy talk on the Wall Street goons.
JJ, as he is called internally at O.co, announced today via the company's press page that they are "partnering" with Barnes and Noble to sell eBooks. You can read the press release here. The best part of all this is you too can "partner" with BN.com and sell eBooks all day and night, I will show you how later in this article.
What Overstock.com Did
Not much that's what. If you aren't familiar with Affiliate Marketing let me give you the run down. You own http://www.awesomestuff.com but you don't actually own any awesome stuff to sell. Instead you setup a website and partner with sites like Overstock.com to put product links on your site, and for every person that clicks on the product link and buys from Overstock.com you get a cut of the profit. Simple.
Guess what Overstock.com did? They signed up as an affiliate with BN.com to sell eBooks through their site... err rather through affiliate links on http://www.Overstock.com/ebooks
Every single link to a product or category is an affiliate link through LinkShare to BN.com. It gets worse, the links are only on the ebooks landing page, oh no they are on product pages too.
You're Affiliate Sale Has Been Stolen
So let's pretend that http://www.awesomestuff.com has a link to Overstock.com's product page for Hunger Games. Normally I would make 10% (or so) on any purchases through that link. However, now there is a new "Buy ebook on Barnes & Noble" link. An affiliate link that I do NOT have a tracking ID in. Sure technically Overstock.com is the partner with BN.com but had I known you were going to be looking for the eBook I could have just as easily sent you to BN.com instead of OSTK.com, they are both in the same Affiliate Network!
Let's recap, I did all the selling, I got you to the merchant, and Overstock.com snaked my sell and took my commission.
As the consumer you probably don't care a lick who gets paid, as long as you get your book, but you should. You should care that Overstock.com has just poisoned the Affiliate Marketing world with their "partnership" with Barnes & Noble. Their partnership is going to literally steal money from the pockets of people who work hard everyday to get ranked in search engines, to place product placements that make sense, to help you get the everyday lowest price, and sometimes pass along the coupons that save you the money.