We’d never heard of cookie stuffing before, but it turns out it’s a thing one shouldn’t do online. Or at least one shouldn’t be accused of doing it, especially if you have a book recommendation site called Lovereading (based in the UK) and Amazon has just plunked down a lot of money for a book recommendation site called Goodreads.
It could be, of course, that the timing is purely coincidental.
According to an article in The Bookseller, London’s book trade magazine, Amazon terminated Lovereading’s affiliate relationship shortly after the company announced its purchase of Goodreads. Amazon claims the site violated its terms of service. In a letter to Lovereading, Amazon made clear that reinstatement was out of the question; there would be no appealing its decision:
We confirm that the decision to close your Associates account and withhold fees is final. Because this decision is final, further requests to review your account for reinstatement will not receive a response.
Louise Weir and Peter Cranshaw, co-founders of Lovereading, said they had linked to Amazon for four or five years and were “baffled and shocked” to receive the termination notice.
Weir and Crawshaw said they were still in the dark about what the website did to “violate” the agreement. In an email exchange, Amazon Associates said Lovereading was “automatically starting sessions on an Amazon Site tagged with [its] Associates ID in order to artificially increase [its] advertising fee earnings”, a practice known as “cookie-stuffing”. But Weir and Crawshaw maintain that Lovereading’s IT department investigated and found that was not the case.
Have other online bookstores caught Lovereading with its hand in the cookie-stuffing jar? Apparently not. The Bookseller reports that the site, which offers links to various online vendors for the books it recommends, has affiliate relationships with Apple and Kobo for ebooks. Those relationships, it seems, are in good standing.