Why Don’t Amazon Links Always Work on the iPad and iPhone?

Imagine this: your new book is finished, and ready for upload to Amazon! You have several other books already available, so you put in the Amazon links so readers can easily buy them. You send your book off to a friend, just for a final check. She writes back and says the book looks great on her iPhone, but why don’t the links to your other books work?

You check – they do. But your friend is adamant that they don’t.

What on earth is going on?

Unfortunately, your book is a casualty from a fight Amazon and Apple had several years ago.

The Cause

Once upon a time, links to Amazon books did work all the time in Kindle books that you read on the iPhone and iPad. All that changed when Apple added (or more accurately, started to enforce) a rule that said all apps that offered in-app purchases, must run those purchases through the Apple store.

While this was targetted at games that offered things like power-ups or extra lives, etc. for a small purchase (like Candy Crush), it did also cast the net over the Kindle app. Apple ruled that if the reader clicked a link to go to the Amazon store and buy a book, that was an in-app purchase, and it needed to go through the Apple store. Or at the very least, Apple required a certain percentage of the sale price.

I think you can imagine Amazon’s response to those demands 🙂

At one stage, with both sides refusing to budge, it looked like the Kindle app might be removed from the Apple store. This would have been a huge blow to everyone using an iPhone or iPad to read their Kindle books (including me at the time, so I was watching with a vested interest!)

Thankfully cooler heads prevailed, and a compromise was reached. Amazon would stop any links to Amazon in Kindle books from working, and in return, the app could stay in the Apple store.

Great for Amazon and Apple, but very inconvenient for readers and a kick in the teeth to authors.

Thankfully, there is (for now), a workaround.

How You Can Get Amazon Links To Work

At the moment, the Kindle app only disables direct links to Amazon. So any links that go to amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, etc., and even the shorter URLs they offer like amzn.com, won’t work in a Kindle book on an iOS device.

However, notice I said direct links. There is a workaround. If you use a URL redirection service for your links (like bit.ly,), you can still link to Amazon. The Kindle app only checks the initial URL that you are clicking on, not where that URL ultimately takes you.

So if you want your Amazon links to work on all Kindle e-readers at the moment, always be sure to use a redirection URL – whether via your own site or using another service – to link to your book on Amazon.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that this will work in the future. At some point, Apple may force Amazon to add a check to see what the final destination is of any link before they activate it, and stop the redirect trick from working.

But for now, unless you send the links for your books directly to your website (my personal preference anyway), it’s a viable workaround for linking to Amazon.