Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Kobo Affiliate eReaders Aren't Affiliated (Or Look What My ADHD Helped Me Discover)

Kobo Minis are Nifty!

Most of the time, people talk about adult ADHD as if it is a curse. We all know the horror stories. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you’ve read more than a few horrifying tales of ADHD woe with me as the terrorizer and victim. Fortunately, ADHD has its upsides. Sometimes a distraction leads me to discover things I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. Case in point: my Kobo mini isn’t affiliate-linked with my local bookstore.

This is a big deal. Kobo was supposed to rise from the ashes of the Google Books failure and be the ebook savior of independent brick & mortar book sellers nationwide,. On the surface it seems simple enough. People buy a Kobo ereader from a local bookshop, and that bookshop gets a percentage of every book purchased with those ereaders. Unfortunately, there’s a big catch.

One day when I was supposed to be pumping out freelance assignments and doing the laundry, on a whim I called Kobo when I couldn’t link my Kobo Mini to my local bookstore. I was having trouble following the directions my local bookstore had given me. I had been told that I could go onto the Kobo website and manually link my Kobo Mini, but there was no link to do that. I also wondered if my Kobo Mini was automatically linked up already. The Kobo customer service agent told me that there was only one guaranteed way to link the Kobo ereader with the affiliate: Create a new Kobo account from the affiliate’s website by clicking on the official link.

Book sellers have been told that the program worked differently. The manager of my local bookstore was quite upset to discover that the Kobo ereaders she sold weren’t benefiting her store through affiliate sales. She was under the impression that the serial codes of the devices linked customers to her store. From what I understood from the Kobo agent I spoke with, the program was supposed to work that way, but wasn’t in practice.

The problem seems to be that Kobo is linking the affiliates to the user accounts, not the Kobo devices. So the program couldn’t work the way resellers were led to believe. Even the entry at is misleading:

Once you create your account on the Kobo device from your local bookstore, your bookstore will share in the proceeds of each ebook you purchase.

The key is to create your account on the device from your local bookstore website. In other words, you must link your new Kobo account, not the Kobo device. Otherwise, no money will flow back to the local merchant.

To say this is confusing is an understatement.

The solution is that local bookstores need to help customers sign up to Kobo from their website at the store and before they leave. They should treat it as doing the customers a service. Most will appreciate the help. Without this extra step on the local bookseller's part, there is no other way to ensure that the affiliate link is made.

What if you were a previous Kobo customer like me and wanted to link your local bookstore to your new Kobo purchases? From what they told me over at Kobo, I would need to visit my local bookseller’s website and create a new account. Then I would have to call Kobo and merge my old account into my new one. This can only be done on Kobo’s side.

This program is a failure unless Kobo can make this process easier and instantaneous for customers. Hopefully, resellers can be made aware of this problem and fix future Kobo ereader affiliate sales.

And to think that I wouldn't have learned this if not for my addled mind. ADHD distraction truly can be an upside.