In 2011, Amazon.com cut off all of its affiliation agreements with affiliates in several states, as a response to those states pushing for laws that would force Amazon to collect state sales tax in those states. This action was a calculated effort to get the affiliates to put pressure on their state legislatures to rescind the bills in question, but as many Amazon affiliates are either small businesses or sites run by individuals, Amazon didn’t get the result expected. If collecting the taxes in question made business impossible to do in those states, Amazon would’ve stopped shipping things to Arkansas and the other states in question, but of course they didn’t. That would affect the bottom line. Can’t have that.
theLogBook.com had been an Amazon affiliate since the late 1990s, which was really the point at which it went from “disorganized fan site” to “somewhat more focused site that can make a bit of money”. Then there came a tipping point at which the site was legitimately paying its own bills – the costs of hosting, the domain name, bandwidth, even my internet connectivity at home, were all being paid for by the site. This justified expansion of the site and the time spent on it, and led to a few “boom years” where content seemed to increase nearly exponentially. That had to slow down substantially when my first child arrived, but it was still worth spending time on. When Amazon cut all of its Arkansas affiliates off in 2011, myself included, it was like losing a limb. What point was there in generating more material for the site when it was no longer going to pay its own bills? Indeed, the money to buy the things frequently covered here – DVDs, music, and so on – ran out. The emphasis rapidly changed: it was time for that Doctor Who book I’d been working on at a slow burn for several years to come to the front burner in a hurry. The kind of content I could charge for was the only kind that there was any justification to work on.
Now, thanks to a change in federal law, Amazon is required to collect state sales tax nationwide…and without announcing it to anyone, they’ve re-opened the doors of their affiliate program to sites in those states they once spurned. Here’s what that means at theLogBook.
In short, I am able to monetize theLogBook.com again. The bulk of this activity is taking place in the episode guide section, where links for Amazon Video purchases are being added/updated en masse – this is most likely to be the “profit center” of the site as an Amazon affiliate, and it’s also the portion of the site that produces new material most often. (Have you seen the brand new complete guide to Wonder Woman season 1?) theLogBook.com Store has been relegated to hawking my self-published books in the past few years, and while those will continue to be the primary offering there, the vast number of Amazon links in that section have been updated, and they’re “live” again.
What does this mean to you? Probably not much on the surface. The site will continue as it has in the recent past, as will my publishing activity – it’s not as if I’m suddenly giving up writing books. I will, however, be making more of an effort to add new material to the web site, in such sections as music reviews and, of course, the episode guides. For those who feel like Patreon is a handout and you want something for your money, I’m not gonna judge – feel free to avail yourself of the updated Amazon Video links in the episode guide section, and the purchase links in the store. You get to watch and buy stuff, and it all adds up to, hopefully, the site becoming self-sufficient again.
One very minor casualty of this change will be the monthly soundtrack podcast, In The Grand Theme Of Things; I will be winding that show down in the near future. Due to its very nature, it can’t be syndicated to iTunes, so it doesn’t have the “pull” of any of the other podcasts, and the time would probably be better spent focusing on written soundtrack reviews on a more regular, consistent basis. A while back I found myself wondering if I’d gotten myself into one podcast too many, and I think I probably have. This is the one that is listened to the least, so it’ll be ending soon so the time can be spent putting new content on the site. The other podcasts will continue – the Escape Pod, Select Game, and Don’t Give This Tape To Earl do a lot to draw new visitors to the site, so their continued existence as “loss leaders” is more than justified.
What does this mean to me? Patience pays. I’ve never given up on theLogBook. Next only to my kids…this is my life’s work. And it’s worth something. And I think it’s about to prove that. I feel like I’ve had a severed limb re-attached after six years. I’m eager to go and wave it in the faces of passers-by. Expect to see more of a promotional push on social media for the site – slightly more aggressive, but hopefully not annoying. There’s a lot of good stuff on this site. Always has been. And maybe this is a signal that it’s time to stop being shy about it.
Let’s get back to business, chronicling how we imagined our futures…and how close our imaginations got.