Taking the Road Not Taken

Read this in about 4 minutes

We’re a group of four people, enthusiastic about the literary world, with a shared dream to see the tradition of good literature continue through our generation as well. Meraki Post is our way of supporting the community of readers and writers. By being honest.

We work on ethics. And we believe in treating you just the way we treat ourselves. Which is the reason we don’t serve ads on the site. We hate ads; you’re like us, so we know you hate them too. But at the end of every year, we receive a bunch of bills, too. We end up paying those from our pockets.

Would we like some support? Of course! But not at the cost of ethics. Or the aesthetics of the site. Or your peace of mind. This is a niche that you can withdraw into, without having to worry about unsolicited pop-ups or suspicious links. Cleanliness is our priority. So how do we go about the finance then?

Taking the Road Not Taken

We could think of two ways:

  1. Chargeable review requests
  2. Affiliate links

We thought, why not charge to break our to-read queue for an explicit request to review a book? The Freemium service model. But we quickly understood that in today’s world, this wasn’t a sustainable option; why would someone pay for an honest review when they can simply send off a free copy in return for a positive review? Unfortunately, that’s what today’s world of book reviews has become. One of the best examples I can personally think of is The First Trillionaire which had a jaw-droppingly amazing score on Goodreads when I entered the giveaway of the book. Sometimes I feel that we at Meraki Post are swimming against the tide, with only a few countable companions.

Anyway, after a lot of nods sideways and otherwise, we decided on going with affiliate links as well, because:

  1. From the User Experience standpoint, it’s easier to simply hit a link than search for a title on your favourite store.
  2. Affiliate links, being verified, and manually added links, do not compromise on the security or the aesthetics of the site in most cases.

We have now enrolled ourselves as Amazon Associates, and generate links to the titles with our referral information in them. Every purchase you make using the link in our posts would fetch us a tiny percentage of the sale, which would help us towards settling our bills. Or if possible, get a cup of coffee after the bills are settled. We felt this was all right, because, if you want to purchase the book, you’d purchase it anyway. The only thing is that you’d go to the store site and search for the titles. Referral links do not change the price of the books, so when you click on the links on our site, you’ll pay the same amount for the book that you would when you look for it yourselves on, say, Amazon.

We felt this was a win-win. Better User Experience, and some financial support for us. Don’t worry, nothing else changes. We will continue to be brutally honest.

‘Honest? So what if I liked a book that you didn’t? What if the “Whom do I recommend this to” section of the review says “Nobody”, but I’d still like to read the book? Would the links be still there?’

Yes, they will. It’s healthy to have differences in opinion in an open world like ours—the literary world. Reviews are opinions; we respect yours as much as ours. And affiliate links are in no way recommendations.

However, DNFs—or Did not finish—are a different story altogether. We rarely DNF a book, and we DNF only those books that do not even meet the very basic requirements of being a book worth picking up. Of course that’s our opinion too, but these books are those that we strongly feel, kill the essence of literature—a court-martial offence in our world. We wouldn’t add affiliate links to these books. These are “Read at your own risk” ones, and that’s the last place we want to direct you to.

Most of you shouldn’t have a problem with these links. If you feel otherwise, do let us know; we’re always listening! Going forward, you should see a new section below the quotes section, called, “Buy the book”, which, for now, would have links to the Amazon store (you can select the format—Kindle, paperback, etc.—on the Amazon product page). We’re working with other online stores as well; you may see Flipkart, Google, Apple, and Barnes & Noble links in the future.

And rest assured, we value your privacy. We have set up no way of tracking clicks on the affiliate links. I don’t think we’ll implement any affiliate tracking in the future either. If we do, we’ll put up a big banner to let you know. Nothing will happen without your knowledge. Please go to the Legal page for further information.

Happy weekend!

Ram Iyer

Writer, PowerShell addict, typographer, self-acclaimed rationalist.

Bangalore, KA ramiyer.me