Ask Jo: Amazon and Quilting Books

Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to.  That’s when I feature them on the blog.  This is one of those days

I’m only tackling one question today.  Here goes…

Kathy Regan commented:
As the owner of a quilt shop in the area, I’m very saddened that you choose to send people to Amazon to purchase books. Is there a reason that you need to do that?

There is a reason I need to do that.  I’ve addressed a very similar group of questions before in an “Ask Jo” segment.  You can find that blog post HERE.  If you want to know a little more about the ins and outs of blogging, that is a great post to read.

This question is slightly different so I’ll explain a little more specifically related to quilt shops.

First off let me again explain this…as I said in the other blog post, I am a small business just like quilt shops are small businesses.  I need to support myself.  I need that more than ever now since Kramer passed away and I’m on my own.  Every bit that comes in helps me get by and make a living.  I get a commission from Amazon if you buy something from them if you go there through the links on the blog.

I’ve been working with Amazon since 2007 and they have always been great to me.  Let’s get into this a little deeper.  When you buy something from Amazon, if you use a link from my blog, I get a small tiny commission.  So for example when I did the post about things I loved from Amazon, if you bought the popcorn popper, ( Find it HERE)

Amazon paid me something like 4% (I’m not sure of the current percentage) of the cost of the popper.  You didn’t pay any extra for the popper.  Amazon gives that commission to me more or less as an advertising fee because you likely wouldn’t have bought the popper had you not heard how much I love mine.  Some of you, like me before I bought mine, didn’t know the microwave popcorn popper existed.

Now when it comes to quilting books…I recently showed you Carver’s quilt.

I explained that I used Lori Holt’s book Spelling Bee.  I added this Find it HERE with a link to Amazon.  Anyone who saw that link was welcome to do whatever they wanted with the link.

Many of you already have the book and like me, haven’t made a single thing from it and after seeing my quilt finish, might pull it out and make one.  Some of you are going to go to your local quilt and see if they have it.  Some of you might go right to Amazon and purchase it.  Some of you don’t like the quilt and have no reason to make it or purchase the book.

For those of you who did buy the book from Amazon…the small commission money I get from Amazon is so appreciated.  When I use the commission money to buy things with it, I often tell you about it.

This year I bought new scooters for the childcare kiddos with the Amazon commission money.

Then when I saw that the younger kids needed scooters their size, I used some of the money for them.

Everyone has their own free will to purchase quilt books or anything else from whomever they please.  I am not forcing anyone to buy from Amazon.  It is always there as an option though.

I also put those links in as I didn’t previously do that and I would be bombarded with people who wanted to know where to get the book as their local quilt shop didn’t have it.  For me, it’s easier all around to put the information out there and let people do with it whatever they please.

I have been complimented by many blog readers that I give more information and more links than other bloggers and they really appreciate that.

I don’t want people to think… that I don’t support quilt shops.  I do…but I support them in non-traditional ways.  I buy very-very little fabric from quilt shops.  I buy no books or patterns from them.  Most quilt shops don’t handle the things that I like.  I like super scrappy.  I like reproduction quilts and those are fading out.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t do good things for the shops…and the things I do are far better than what any one person likely does for the shops.

When we have a quilt published in American Patchwork and Quilting we are given the option of offering a kit to be sold.  Kelli and I don’t want to buy the fabric and sell kits.  We love that we can offer to a shop the work of putting together and selling the kits.  So in the past, we have worked with Forest Mills Quilt Shop several times and we’ve worked with Pine Needles Quilt and Sew.  The shops got all of the money from the kits they sold…and they sold lots of kits.  They sold more dollars in kits than I would ever personally spend in a quilt shop.

Many emails go back and forth to set this up.  We get zero money from that.  We do it as a way to support the shops.  We could easily tell American Patchwork and Quilting that we don’t have a shop that would offer the kit and no kits would be sold.  But, we don’t do that.  We support the shops and send the business their way.

We have hosted quilt retreats at the shop in Oelwein, Iowa bringing in lots of people and business for their shop.

Beyond that, when I do go to quilt shops (rarely anymore-but often did in the past) I have blogged about the quilt shops.  I did free advertising for them.  I got zero money from that (the majority, not even a thank you).  I know that some of you went on and contacted the shops and bought things you saw that were in the pictures.  Those sales and recognition of the shops came because of my blog.  Again, we got zero money for that.  It was free advertising for them.

I was curious as to which shop Kathy owned so I looked it up.  I was pretty sure that I had featured Kathy’s shop here on the blog in the past so I checked the archives and I have.  You can find that HERE.

I have said in the past and it bears repeating.  If a quilt shop or designer would offer a commission as Amazon does, I would happily work with a quilt shop or designer.  Until they can have the inventory needed and provide us with a commission…I’ll work with Amazon.  The commission keeps my kids in scooters and pays for rulers and quilting goodies when I want them.  I know that it is totally possible for shops or designers to do that as this is what I do with SewPad.  Quilt shops and designers to this point, have not.  I loved Sewpad’s chair cushions and contacted them to see if they do an affiliate program.  They do and I signed up to be an affiliate.  So, if you purchase a chair pad from them by using the link on my blog, a small percentage of the sale goes to me.  Again, it’s not a lot…but every bit helps.

I love supporting small businesses and do, but I am a small business and the small business needs to support me in return.  It’s just good business.  Right now, SewPad and Amazon are the only businesses that are offering support back so those are the businesses I am working with.

I hope that Kathy and others who had similar questions understand how it all works.  I think so many do not see a blogger as a small business…but many of us are.  If you see advertising on our blogs or Youtube channels, we are a small business.

I hope I gave you enough information so you can decide how you want to spend your money the next time you see a link to a quilt book on my blog or links to anything else you see as you surf the internet…or visit a quilt shop.

33 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Amazon and Quilting Books”

  1. As a blogger I know how much work it took to write that detailed blog post with all the links! People feel entitled to most anything these days and never hesitate to voice a complaint. Ignore them Jo – you’re doing a great job!

  2. I’ve long been amazed how you piece together a living with the variety of things you do to generate income. Kudos to you. I’ve never had the impression that you favored or belittled any business. Rather, you have been clear on what you’re doing and why.

    You are very kind to take this much time to explain an answer to a business owner who likely already knew the answer.

    Happy Wednesday Jo!!! :-)

  3. No, not only are you a great resource for quilters, but for the further education of small businesses generally. Next time someone asks you why you’re not advertising them for free, ask them what THEY give away!

  4. Jo, I’m a fairly new blog reader, but I’ve noticed that you always give credit to the pattern designers and authors whose work you show. For those of us who don’t have a local quilt shop, are taking care of family and can’t get out, or are simply at home during this endless Covid season, the links to your favorite products are welcome! We can always choose to shop elsewhere, but I appreciate your taste and opinions and if an item appeals to me, why I certainly will use the link to explore it and buy it.

    Thanks also for sharing your family stories. favorite reads, recipes, gardening, and wisdom with us.
    Kris in WI

  5. I know nothing about blogging and am really technologically challenged so I appreciated your thorough explanation. Since I have only been following you for a couple years, it’s neat to see pictures of your family from a few years ago. I admire all that you do and are for your family, friends, and the childcare kiddos.

  6. Susan the Farm Quilter

    Maybe Kathy should get on the commission bandwagon! If her shop has an internet presence, y’all could make it work, but it would take work on her part (and yours) that you do not have to deal with when you refer people to Amazon to get items, so the commission arrangement would have to take that extra work on your part (to coordinate what you are going to be telling us you love) so she could get the items in stock. Personally I trust a personal recommendation from someone I “know” over a random advertisement.

  7. There are other reasons why some of us buy from Amazon. My nearest LQS is over 20 miles away and I don’t get out much with COVID around. And, some people live extremely far from a quilt shop. I do order fabric from online quilt shops and most of my books from Amazon. More recently I order my quilt books (yours, for example) in Kindle version and view on my Kindle Fire. I just don’t have the space to store more books. Even my quilt magazine subscriptions are in digital form.

  8. Thanks for the explanation – I’ve wondered how some of that aspect of business works.
    I appreciate your links! Sometimes I visit them to get a closer look at the item and end up making a purchase. (I think I bought a mop and bucket from one of your links!) Sometimes I visit the link, gather the info and then buy the item from my local quilt store – sometimes they order the item in for me. Or I may wait for a time to visit our nearby Amish area quilt stores, knowing the item may be available more readily there. While I try to shop locally and support small businesses, it often depends on what’s going on in my life at the moment – but I certainly do appreciate the options.

  9. Once again that was very good info. I order books thru Amazon and won’t do it again until I figure out how to go thru your link…..I had no idea I could do that!

  10. My experience with local quilt shops is typically negative. Finding one that’s open alternative hours, affordably priced or simply courteous is nearly impossible. Again, maybe just my experience but they are short sighted when it comes to non traditional or alternative types of quilting. They appear to want to make a killing rather than a living, thus expecting u to supplement her income . The world is changing we have options beyond what’s downtown. If they don’t branch out or figure out how to adapt they will become a relic. It’s not your responsibility to direct your people to them! I love your links! Keep up the good work!

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  12. Keep doing all the GOOD you do!! Great blogging and your writing keeps so many of us interested, Jo!! Kuddos to you!

  13. Well said, Jo! Thanks for sharing. I am fortunate to live in an area where there are 7 quality quilt shops within an hours drive of my home. One is completely new. Havent been there yet. And there is another quality shop a 1 1/2 hour distance. I’m like you though, trying not to buy anymore than I need to finish a project. Its gratifying when you can go to the shelf and pull off the perfect backing for a tablerunner.

  14. Katherine Gourley

    I am grateful to you Jo for providing those links and I have used them. The closest quilt shop to me is 40 miles away and though I love it, the owner cannot possibly carry everything. I buy many things from them and attend classes there. Excluding shopping time in the store it is an hour and 15 minutes each way and with gas over $3.00 a gallon it is about $6.50 to $7.00 a trip. Amazon generally discounts books and with Prime, I get free shipping. Many quilt shops charge MSRP (or higher) and have higher tax rates and it is not a win for me. For example, a quilt shop I visited on vacation was charging $12.49 to $13.00 a yard for some fabric I liked. I went on my smartphone and found it at an online-only quilt shop and found it for $10.48 a yard and $4.95 flat rate shipping. I needed 8 yards, so I ordered it. I need to watch what I spend and want my money to buy more.

  15. I’ve found that many quilt shops don’t carry every book or pattern that I’m interested in. That’s also true of rulers, fabric and other notions. If I drive to my quilt shop, which is about 40 minutes away, it’s very possible that I wouldn’t even find what I’m looking for. Their space is limited and they can’t carry everything. Amazon is a great option for me!

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  18. Seven quilt shops have closed around me in as many years. The owners were ready to retire and there was no one to buy them. I don’t need any more fabric, I just like to buy some thing new sometimes. I use to read blogs as entertainment. I have noticed recently I am deleting more and more without reading. So blogs will become like quilt shops…… gone. Not sure if there is a good answer.,

  19. ? so if i enter amazon through your blog, and then shop for something unrelated (ie, vitamins) , will you still get credit for my purchase?
    … or do you need to be directly linked to the product purchased?

    its a learning curve thing !!

    1. YES. There is an Amazon ad on the right column of the blog. You can click that ad anytime and go and shop. I’ll get the commission. THANKS!!

  20. I have a couple quilt shops near me-one I consider my “home” shop. I buy whatever I can from them, but they do not-like lots of other quilt shops-get every book I might be interested in. Very good & much appreciated explanation. I always fail to understand why people choose to “reprimand” others in such a public way. Keep up being you-it is so very much appreciated by all of us (mostly all of us)!!! Hugs,

  21. Hi Joe! Do you only get commissions on items you recommend and provide a link for? Today I ordered a vacuum. I started Amazon from one of your links, do you get credit for that too?

  22. My local quilt shops very rarely sale any books. One of the shops that no Notions whatsoever. The other shop carries off-the-wall Notions
    (as in strange, weird, speciality type of items) and a type of thread that people do not buy for quilting. I have no choice but to order those types of things online. And I like to support bloggers like you , or a local non-profit, rather than just Amazon with my purchases. I think you said it very well when you listed the places a person may shop if they were interested in something you listed on your blog. And this is one of the reasons I like your blog. It’s practical, and doesn’t assume that we’re all sheep.

  23. Jo, thank you for the lengthy explanation and I also want to thank the quilt shop for asking the question. I enjoy Amazon for some quilting things and I prefer local shops for other items. Its my choice what I choose to use.

  24. Jo, I looked for the Amazon Link – and it’s not showing at all right now. Just so I know I am looking in the right place, there is a note on the sidebar that says,

    “Help support this blog by doing your shopping using the link below. Commissions from your purchases help keep this content free. Thanks!”

    I assume it’s supposed to be underneath that note. Thought you would like to get this corrected, so we can use it!

    I really enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for all the effort you put into it.

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  26. I wonder how many of your readers have access to a GOOD quilt shop, one that doesn’t require half a day’s drive to get to and carries what that quilter wants to quilt with (I’ve been to some absolutely phenomenal shops that just didn’t carry stuff for my style of quilting) and isn’t cliquish.

    I find the Amazon links a whole lot more helpful than “check your local quilt shop”

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