Over the weekend, some observers noticed that the Washington Post, which was purchased by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos last year, was featuring Amazon “Buy it Now” buttons/affiliate links in certain articles.
Paul Carr at PandoDaily points to an article called “What Divisive ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ cover says about books and readers.”
The article is about the cover art for a 50th anniversary edition of the book. Six paragraphs in there’s a paragraph that says:
The cover is certainly a departure from other incarnations of the Roald Dahl classic, most of which (including the current U.S. printing) have featured the famed whimsical illustrations by Quentin Blake. But the “Modern Classics” imprint under which the new edition will be released is not a children’s book line.
According to Carr’s article and a few other accounts, the words “Roald Dahl classic” contained an Amazon affiliate link, and a “Buy it Now” button appeared next to it. The link and button appear to have since been removed.
According to Carr, they’re doing it with all their book reviews though, and there is still a visible example here (at least still visible as of the time of this writing). It’s the same kind of thing – an affiliate links and a “Buy it Now” button. They’re doing it on various news items and letters to the editor, Carr says.
People have had mixed reactions to learning that the newspaper site has been turned into an affiliate of Bezos’ Amazon. Some find it “creepy” or otherwise shady. Others just see it as a legitimate way for a newspaper to make some extra money. As some have pointed out, other newspapers have implemented similar strategies.
Still, this was bound to draw some level of scrutiny being that Bezos owns both parties involved.
After announcing his purchase of the newspaper last year, Bezos wrote in a letter, “So, let me start with something critical. The values of The Post do not need changing. The paper’s duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners. We will continue to follow the truth wherever it leads, and we’ll work hard not to make mistakes. When we do, we will own up to them quickly and completely.”
Image via Wikimedia Commons