If you ever want to give a reader the link to your book on Amazon, it can be very tempting to just go to Amazon, search for your book, click on your book, and then copy and paste the link from the address bar in your browser.
That works, but let’s be honest – the link you get is ugly! For example, here’s the link to my book Gears of Wonderland when I do that.
What a mess 🙂 Putting a visible link like that into a book would look very ugly. And can you imagine a reader trying to type that link into their browser from a print book?
Thankfully for us, we can shorten that link! There are several stages of shortening that we can go through.
Stage 1 – Get rid of the end junk
All the text starting from “ref=” in the URL is actually meaningless for us. Amazon use it to keep track of data as you’re browsing their site, but we don’t need to keep it around in any URLs we pass on to readers. So the simplest stage in shortening your Amazon link is to just remove that part of the link, like this:
That’s a bit better, but we can shorten it even more 🙂
Stage 2 – Remove the book title
If you look closely at the URL from stage 1, you can see that there is a variation of the book title in the URL. We don’t actually need that part of the URL. If we remove it, the link will be a lot short, and it still works. So we end up with a link like this:
(Make sure you keep that “/dp/” bit there in the URL – it’s important!)
That’s pretty short! But we can actually go one step further 🙂
Stage 3 – Don’t use Amazon.com
That might sound like a very strange thing to say, but bear with me!
Like most businesses, Amazon own a huge number of domain names. One of the domains they own is amzn.com. Rather than just leave that domain sitting around and doing nothing, they have actually made it a handy way to shorten links to their site. This is what the link to my book looks like when I use that domain.
The important part of the URL that makes it work is the ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number). Every item listed on Amazon has one, and you can see the ASIN in all the versions of the URL we’ve been using (it’s the B005USJ5U8 part). Just change the ASIN in the URL above to the ASIN for your book, and presto, you’ll have a very short link.
(and unlike the stage 2 URL, we don’t need to include that “/dp/” bit).
Unfortunately, this trick only works for Amazon.com – Amazon don’t seem to have registered versions for their other Amazon sites.
Another Option – Link Shortening Services
I want to close out by mentioning a totally different option for shortening your book links, that works with any book retailer (not just Amazon).
There are third-party sites online that specialise in providing shortened links (not just for books, but any link you want to shorten). You’ve probably seen links using them before – they use domains like bitly.com, goo.gl, ow.ly, tinyurl.com, bit.do, etc. Just do a search for “link shortener”, and you’ll more options than you could ever use 🙂
Most of them are free to use (although some offer additional features if you pay a fee), and they are quick and easy to use. Of course, there are pros and cons to using these types of services.
As a pro, some of the sites actually track the number of people clicking your links. If you make different links for each place you use a link to your book, you can see where the most people are coming from (which may help with your marketing, since you know where to target).
The obvious downside to using a third-party site like these is that you’re reliant on the site always being around. If they suddenly close (or decide to charge a large fee to use their links), you have to try and change every place where you’ve used the shortened link, which could be a nightmare.
I hope this short guide has been useful. Now there’s no excuse for using long links for your books! 🙂