Books2Read and “Universal” Links

I’ve blogged about global or “universal” links twice before: here and here.

Now I’m visiting the subject again. What prompted me? My new use of Draft2Digital.

Draft2Digital distributes ebooks to 8 e-tailers who feature ebooks among their offerings: Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Inktera, Scribd, Tolino, 24 Symbols, and the newly added Playster. Draft2Digital provides a smooth interface for the authors they serve, along with some excellent online tools.

Amongst those tools is access to their sister site Books2Read.

Books2Read creates and sustains a “universal” link for each book distributed through Draft2Digital, allowing authors, reviewers, fans, – or, really, anyone who wants to talk about that great book she just read – to share one URL for the book that connects to nearly every store where that book is sold.

I’ve really liked having one Amazon link that directs each reader to the Amazon store serving his area, and one Kobo link that does the same for the Kobo store fronts.

But the Books2Read link will direct the prospective ebook purchaser to the right Amazon store, the right Kobo store, the right B&N store, or even to stores that I’ve never heard of (but that do carry my books!).

How It Works

Now, the first time a reader clicks on a Books2Read link, she will need to choose her preferred store from an array of icons. But ever after, any Books2Read link will take her directly to the book on her preferred e-tailer site.

Try it for yourself.

No, really! Click on the cover of Caught in Amber. The window will open in a new tab, and you can see exactly what any first-time clicker will see when he clicks a universal Books2Read link.

(Unless you’ve already selected your preferred store for Books2Read. Then clicking will take you to Amber at that store.)

Do it now. I’ll wait! 😉

Before those of you who don’t distribute through D2D – but who do have books on offer with more than one e-tailer, skip this post…catch this!

Universal Links for Everyone

Books2Read will create and sustain universal links even for books that are not distributed through Draft2Digital. All you have to do is create an account with Books2Read, and you can start creating universal links for your books. Cool, don’t you think?

Now, Books2Read links aren’t truly universal. They may be universal for ebooks (I have no way of testing that – too many e-tailers for me to know about them all), but they don’t include stores that carry only paperbacks and hardbacks. I wish they did. That would be…incredible! But Books2Read does have 38 e-tailers (plus several subscription services) on their roster, many that I’ve never even heard of.

They divide their roster into “fully supported” stores and “partially supported” stores.

An Automated Search
(plus add-ons)

The fully supported stores are accessed by the author creating universal links automatically. That is, when the author pastes the link to one store into the box on the Books2Read site, an automatic search finds that book on the sites of 10 e-tailers and includes them in the book’s universal link.

These 10 fully supported stores are: Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Inktera, and Smashwords.

For the partially supported stores, the author must paste in the link for each store himself, and then those links are included in the universal link.

There are 28 partially supported stores. I’m not going to list them all. You can see the list on Books2Read, if you want the full roster, here. I’ll name a few to give you some sense of them: Blio, Indigo, Libris, WHSmith, OverDrive. But there are many more.

Universal Links Plus?

So, why, you may be asking, does my own site still include individual links to Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and others?

This is my thinking:

First of all, global links are a new thing. Readers are not accustomed to them. If I weren’t an author, I would not be accustomed to them. In fact, when I first encountered them as a reader on another author’s blog, I felt confused that there was only one link. Where’s the Amazon link? I wondered. And…I did not click on that one link. I worried about where it would take me. I certainly didn’t trust it to take me to Amazon. Instead, I went to Amazon myself and searched on the book title.

Well, I don’t want to risk that an interested reader on my site might avoid clicking on one of the links to my books! What if she didn’t follow up by going to Amazon (or Kobo, or Apple) herself? What if she simply bailed altogether? Not good!

And, secondly, using the universal link does require a second click the first time a reader clicks on it. Each extra click is an invitation to the clicker to bail. My direct links don’t require that second click. They take the reader directly to the store front and my book.

So, for now, I’m keeping the individual links to the most popular e-tailers.

But I am using the universal links.

My Universal Links

“Where?” you ask. “I don’t see them.”

Indeed, right now it’s not obvious, because the universal links are connected to the book cover images in the sidebar of my site. With a little more work, I will have all the book cover images serving as links. Right now, most are static images with no links at all, and that’s a waste. People are accustomed to images that are links, images that lead somewhere when you click on them.

I’ve avoided making my book cover images into links, because I would have had to choose which store to favor. And my readers who prefer Kobo (or Apple, or B&N, etc.) would have been super annoyed to click and find themselves arriving on Amazon instead.

Recently, I did make the sidebar images go to Amazon, because I couldn’t bear the wasted opportunity. But now I don’t have to choose! The images can be universal links. 😀

Your Thoughts?

So…now I have questions for you!

What do you think of all of the above? Do you think I am wise to preserve the individual links for now? Do you think I am mistaken to convert the book cover images into links? Or to have them go anywhere but Amazon? (Most – but not all – of my sales occur at Amazon.) Do you find the links as they are currently configured to be convenient for you?

I’d love to hear about your experiences with links and what you think of the issue.

For more about links, see:
A Question for International Visitors
Kobo Knows How to Do Ebook Links Right!



Kobo Knows How to Do Ebook Links Right!

In November, I decided it was time to update the links on my site that point to my books’ Amazon pages.

When I first started my blog, in February 2012, I included links to and Amazon UK, figuring that since I write in English, the residents of the UK were in my potential audience.

Then I had my first sale in Germany. Another in Spain. One in Italy.


It became obvious that there are English speakers, or readers, all over the globe. So whenever a new country showed up in my sales, I’d add that Amazon to the links.

That method brought the number of Amazon links up to 10 out of the 13 Amazon stores this year. Since most of my books are also available at B&N, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo, the list of links after each title was 14 stores long. Too long, especially for my readers who shop at one of the stores in the middle of the alphabet.

So I found a source for a global Amazon link. All thirteen Amazon stores are accessed from one link that directs the browsing reader to the Amazon store serving his or her country.

I asked my international visitors to test these new global links and let me know if the links worked. My visitors tested. Thank you! The links worked. Yay!

I celebrated my link success for all of a day, before it occurred to me that B&N also has separate websites in different countries, and Kobo as well. The links on my site led only to the US B&N website and the US Kobo website. That was a serious problem.

I tackled B&N first, with absolutely no luck. If there is a way to make my B&N links global, I can’t find it.

Kobo log in window

I moved on to Kobo, and what I found impressed the heck out of me. Not only is there a way to make Kobo links global, but that way is native to the Kobo’s own set-up. For the Amazon links, I have to rely on an outside provider. If that provider ever goes out of business, I’ll have redo all my links. But the Kobo links are likely to be good for as long as there is a Kobo.

Kobo has a user guide, which I’ll link to here.

And on page 36 of that user guide are instructions for creating global links. Page 36 says:

A big part of promoting your Kobo ebooks is making sure your readers can easily find them. If you give readers a direct link to your ebooks’ item pages, readers can easily access your Kobo ebooks from your website or blog. The creation of links to product pages is fairly simple. To direct readers to a particular ebook on Kobo, you drop your ebook’s ISBN into the following formula:[eISBN-13]

I visited the Kobo web page for each of my books to get the eISBN-13 number assigned by Kobo and pasted it into the given formula. Easy peasy! Did I say I was impressed by Kobo?

thumbnail imageThus my link for Troll-magic became

My link for Sarvet’s Wanderyar became And so on.

Of course, I tidied up the links so that they look neater: Troll-magic and Sarvet’s Wanderyar. Or Kobo and Kobo.

So, readers who favor Kobo, my site is ready for you! 😀



A Question for International Visitors

I’ve started using a “universal” link for the Amazon store. When you click on the link, it will direct you to the Amazon store that serves the country where you live. In theory.

What I want to know is this: does it do so in practice?

NASA image of the world

Why did I make this change?

As time passes, readers in more and more countries are finding my books and buying them. I was providing links to the Amazon store in each country where readers were finding my work. When this was a matter of 4 or 5 or even 8 different store fronts, that method made sense.

But now that I need to include links for 10 of the 13 Amazon stores, I suspect that picking through the long list of links is a pain for anyone who uses an Amazon that isn’t the first one on the list ( or the last one (Amazon UK).

I want finding and clicking a link to be super easy.

BUT…if the universal link does not work properly, then it is no good at all.

I know it works beautifully in the US. That’s where I live, so I can test it.

But does it work in the UK? Does it work in France? What about Germany? Or Japan?

If you buy your books from an Amazon other than, I’d love it if you’d try out the universal Amazon link on one of my books, note whether or not it directs you to the correct store, and then post a comment here to tell me what happened.

(Or email me – j dot neygrimm at yahoo dot com.)

All the links in this post – except two – are universal links to my books, so you can just click one. 😉

I’ll be so very grateful!


Thank you!