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Thursday, 15 November 2007


I'm sure I won't be the only one to say this, but -- please keep shilling. I appreciate your recommendations, and if I can cause Amazon to throw a few pennies your way by buying the book through you, so much the better.

Yeah, how dare you make a $4.76 profit of the hours and hours of work you put into your blog! ;-)

My opinion, it is too difficult to get to Amazon through this site. I want a link on the right bar somewhere.

If this site was making tens of millions dollars in profit a year, I would be concerned about you selling out to the "man". As it is, I want to buy through this site as much as I can because I want you and all the other contributers to earn as much as possible and be able to spend as much time as possible writing for this site.

Now if I can only talk you into adding a B&H associate program, or whatever B&H has, to the site. That would be a nice add on, but that's just me, and I believe in supporting those who provide me with valuable services, which definitely includes good reading material.

hi mike,

(your blog gives me great pleasure; please keep it up).

something wrong with profit?

or maybe i missed the mission statement about the blog being some sort of pro bono effort?

all the best, tom.

I bought a copy of "Beauty in Photography" six months ago when I saw it recommended on your site. It's a great book and I also would heartily recommend it. So a few pennies your way is the least I can do as way of thanks and support for the site. (Or it would have been if you'd had a link to amazon.co.jp.)

I also run a site that is supported by sales through amazon. Often loyal site users have asked for a way to just donate money but I've never felt comfortable with this. I much prefer for people to get something tangible for their money and, if I can make a few pennies and it doesn't change the sticker price, why not? Seems like a win-win situation to me.

I surely must be that one person who purchased both books by Robert Adams. I do not feel ashamed by doing so. I have mixed feelings knowing that you only got $4.76 for the sale through your site (sad!), but that I'm not making Ken Rockwell that much richer by following the links on his site.

When did "profit" become a naughty word?

Mike, as regrettably small as the sum was that you make through the link to Roberts Adams book it is, sadly, probably still more than he will make if Amazon is selling it for $10.17.
BTW you evidently generated enough sales for them to sell out, by the time I clicked to buy they were out of stock.
Anyway, I for one appreciate these links so keep em coming.

This is an old problem. Many a blogger is accused of losing independence or being biased when placing associate links inside a post, as it's not clear if he may not have posted on this product if he wouldn't make money. Don't think your long-term readers would accuse you of that.

The best solution (and I follow this myself on my blog) is that I post bare links to Amazon products inside the post, if it's to something the post is talking about. That way my readers can still get it, but I keep the lines clear. On the other side I do keep one of the new Amazon blog widgets on the side bar and those are decorated with my associate tag.

That may make a bit less money, but keeps it completely defendable against those readers who may question your motive. Then you may decide you don't care what they think.

If you bother to look me up, you'll see that I do have some knowledge in this space (no it's not the photography part :-) )

You wuz cheated. A lot of people, and some photographers, check into this blog a lot. Some days I am interested in what you or someone else posts, some not. But I keep coming back. So, there is proof in the pudding as well as the blog. I'd rather that you made a mint on the ads. Thanks for what you do.

Dave Ralph

BTW, I am one of the people who bought Why People Photograph. I hope I did it in a way that benefited you since I bought a few other books too, clicking all over the place on Amazon. Thanks for the tip.

Dave Ralph

I wonder if Amazon is being honest with you. I ordered as soon as I saw your recomendation, and they say they will ship on Dec.10. (international)

Just for fun, I will keep an eye on it and let you know. Maybe they don't credit me until they ship to you or something like that.

Mike J.

I did buy The Ansel Adams book purposely following the link from your page.
I repeat:
1) I bought the book I wanted
2) I was aware that I was going to Amazon from your site.

I find your site illuminating and -why not- entertaining. I would be happy to support its presence and longevity indirectly by simply doing something I would have wanted to do anyway. There is nothing wrong with your inclusion of links to commercial activities. You should not bother.

By the way, I am happy that I bought the book. It is among the best books I bought for quite some time and I adore most of the photographs there. Many thanks for bringing it to my attention...

I, for one, would be glad if I had been able to purchase everyone of my books about photography through this site, if this can help you keep it up and running.

So, the links are 'as much for your convenience as for my profit'. Since you didn't make much of a profit - with a full-blown economic calculation you will most likely have a loss - there's not much convenience in it for us?

For those needing emoticons: this post is tongue-in-cheek.

"So, the links are 'as much for your convenience as for my profit'. Since you didn't make much of a profit - with a full-blown economic calculation you will most likely have a loss - there's not much convenience in it for us? For those needing emoticons: this post is tongue-in-cheek."

True if you look just at numbers. Then again, if you look at some of the comments, it's obvious that at least a few people really appreciate the recommendations. What motivates me is trying to help people get more enjoyment out of this hobby, so on balance I'd say it's worth it all around. But in the end it's as Bulent says: you should only buy what you decide to buy anyway. If I get a few bucks, great for me, but I also don't mind at all if anybody ends up picking something up at their local bookstore. The important thing is that people get exposed to good authors, good authors make well-deserved sales, and you enjoy your purchase.

Mike J.

Hey, Mike. Thanks for the only (as far as I know)thoughtful, really interesting and open minded, site about photography.

Some people take for granted how is tough and time consuming to maintain a site of this quality in the "air". A friend of mine wrote a very useful software. It cost him a lot of hours of hard work to develop it. He got well over a thousand downloads...And about sixty dollars of total donations.
It's time for us, web users, change our mentality to get "everything for nothing", or we will fatally end with nothing, quality-wise.

I'm fed up of pixel counters and ridiculous "mine is bigger than yours", eight years old mental age, flaming forums.
Most of us have a specially pleasurable daily passage here. Keep up the good work, feel free to make the money you certainly need and deserve. The links are a good idea, keep up with them: the absolute majority of our little and growing "community" here is certainly bright enough to understand this.

As a suggestion, move the "tip jar" to the top of the site. Donations are important to keep this fantastic site up and growing. We pay for newspapers, the traditional ones or the "on line" ones, we pay for magazines... we even pay for junk food!

I think that is so pleasurable to open daily this site and find new, interesting, stimulating threads, that I think it is more than fair to contribute (or even pay in a regular basis)to keep it humming... Thanks, again.

PS: "Tip jar" and "change is good" could perhaps be better understood if worded in another way, something like "Help to keep this site humming!"

Riode Janeiro, Brazil

In the UK I find the printed photographic press almost universally uninteresting. The writing has no depth, the content is mainly orientated at pleasing advertisers, there is certainly no feeling of the level of personal investment that Mike and his fellow contributors obviously have in TOP. I feel that all that matters here is the photography being written about. I often get the impression that it is being written just for me, like Mike has mailed me personally on some quirky, thought provoking gem of an idea. I don’t really even notice the ads to be honest (I get them when I do a web search, I get them in Gmail when my actual friends e-mail me too…).

In short I would - if it was what was required for me carry on enjoying this brilliant and virtually daily photography column - be quite prepared to stump up a subscription charge. One of the fantastic things, and why it all feels so convivial, is that it is not asked for here. It is clear that these pages have enormous value.

I bought my copy (and other books) via your blog. I can't put a price on what this blog has given me, but it's a lot more then $4.76

Thanks very much for those nice sentiments. (And thanks to everyone who said other kind things, too.)

One of the early rationales for T.O.P. was that I was writing fairly involved emails to friends, and I thought, why not write them where more people can see them? I still think of the typical post as being similar in spirit to an email. In fact, some of them start out as actual emails. "The Horror--The Horror," for instance, is a case in point--it began as an email to the friend (Oren) who sent me the link to that picture.

Mike J.


You deserve to make an income from the site and as such I've got no problems with links to amazon, or the majority of the Ads on the site. I do however have a problem (and I've been wondering about commenting on ths for a few days now) with the 'artistic nudes' ad towards the top of the site.

Whatever the image is it's not, in my view, and artistic. I really do find the 1970's style cheesiness of it is downright offensive, and would hope I'm not alone.

More importantly, doesn't seem to fit with the columns or the other content on the site. I think you should consider the content of the paid ads as they do colour how people view the site.

Barry said,

I think you should consider the content of the paid ads as they do colour how people view the site.

I agree with Barry. I wish it had more B&W nudes..........though I like coulor as well. B&W is always more "Artistic"


At 4.76$ for the work you must put in this site, the only trouble you may get into is with the union!

Seriously though I never understood this controversy about "selling out". What matters is the quality of the content you offer. Whether you make a lot of money, little money or none at all in the process is really none of *our* business as reader. (Although we obviously would like you to make enough to continue enlightening us)

I am probably a very bad client anyway as 1) I never buy from amazon.com (sometimes from amazon.ca or amazon.fr), and 2) I tend to reject cookies (electronic kind, not the real deal!), so I guess it must be hard to track where I come from...

A few thoughts that I have:

I think it is pretty damn important for people to be able to earn a living doing what they love. Obviously you love to write, but obviously you are not making a living off of this site. I think that is too bad. What you do with this site must take up a fair amount of your time. Personally, I would rather that you spent that time doing what you do, rather than "selling cars."

This is one of only a few sites that I visit regularly and really appreciate. I would be happy if you could earn a living with it.

I know that I wouldn't push a product that I didn't like or know much about, and I think I know you well enough (mostly through this site) to know that you wouldn't either, and that's good enough for me!

Eudoro Lemos, Jr. wrote: "I'm fed up of pixel counters and ridiculous "mine is bigger than yours", eight years old mental age, flaming forums.
Most of us have a specially pleasurable daily passage here. Keep up the good work, feel free to make the money you certainly need and deserve. "

That, I believe, summarizes many of feelings, Eudoro.

TOP has been a wonderful daily venue for me, probably for many of the same reasons it is for thousands of other folks. Mike has established something of an online coffee house for a variety of photographic interests. If you don't see something that interests you today, it's certain that you will tomorrow or the day after.

I know that Mike puts a great deal of effort into keeping TOP spinning. While it may be a labor of love it most certainly is, nonetheless, a labor. We all benefit from Mike's devotion, interests, and talents.

Mike will probably be aghast at the following suggestion, and may not post it at all. But I'll make it anyway.

If TOP has become a welcome part of your daily/weekly online reading why not resolve to support the site's continuance in 2008? What is it really worth to you? $0.25/day? $0.50/day? $1.00/day? Just like public television and public radio in America, TOP deserves to be supported by its community of readers and correspondents. Click that TIP JAR and make a modest contribution. You know you owe him something.

I have been reading your blog for about 4 months now, not nearly as long as some others, but long enough to have a grasp on the way you run your blog. I have to say that I don't really see the problem with you making a few extra bucks off of a link- to tell you the truth, if you hadn't brought it up, I never would have thought about that, nor would I have cared. However, as far as your links go... There is something about that artistic nudes link that doesn't sit right with me... It's not that I have a problem with nudes (some of my favorite photos are nudes) and I don't want to start a debate about what is art and what is not, that is not my intention. I just found that particular site to be a bit... I don't know... creepy? It's just my personal feeling though and not an attack on the owner of that site, it's just not my cup of tea. I know that is a bit off topic and I don't blame you if you don't publish it, but I figured I would throw in my 2 cents, whether anyone really cares or not.

Mike, don't pay attention to the barking dog, we all know you're not movin' to Montana soon...

I just like the Zappa reference myself.

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