Amazon's associates program, the 1990s' symbol of easy Web money for homegrown Web sites, will soon be changing how it spreads out that money.

In a memo sent to associates, the company listed a new payout structure for next year, in which commissions on sales that come from direct links to title pages will drop from 15% to 7.5%, while sales that come from indirect associate links will be bumped up to 7.5%, from 5%.

David Schappell, director of the Amazon Associates Program, explained the move by saying that associates "found [15%] limiting because a lot of them are promoting more than just books" and that this was " more closely aligned with the interests of our associates."

The company also announced a change regarding its policy on used items, which it sells via the Marketplace section of its site. In keeping with Amazon's emphasis on making used items a bigger share of its revenue pie, the site is doubling the commission it offers to associates, from 2.5% to 5%, leaving only a very slight difference in commissions—7.5% to 5%—between associates linking to new books and those linking to used ones. While it is hard to know how the combination of increases and decreases will affect Amazon's revenue, it sends a clear signal that the company is less concerned with new book sales and more interested in the sales of used books and other merchandise.

Google Update

In other online news, Google is speaking more publicly about its program to target publishers and book-content, a story first reported by PW last month. According to several reports, the company is moving ahead with a beta test that, at the beginning, will link to, B& and Books-a-Million.

In October, publishers had been hoping that they could decide which bookseller(s) would get credit for the sale. Publishers have said that while the program seemed different from Amazon's, they remain cautious; Google told the New York Times, "We're still trying to figure out what the right solution is for them [publishers]."