offers commissions on e-mail links

Computer World – is extending its affiliate book-selling program to virtually any Tom, Dick or Harry with an e-mail address.

Announced today, lets consumers embed links to's Web site in personal e-mail messages to friends, family and others. Customers earn a 5% commission on any recommended book, CD or software title their friends buy. Alternately, consumers can direct the bookseller to pay the commissions to any one of five charitable groups designated by

"This program is about expanding the reach of electronic commerce," said Carl Rosendorf, senior vice president of marketing at

"Books and music are those types of products that people love to share their feelings about. When they read a good book, they love telling their friends and neighbors.

"What's in it for is a cheaper way to acquire new customers, although company officials declined to specify how much they expect to save.

One possible downside of the program is the potential for spam because there's nothing to prevent a user from sending out hundreds of e-mails to people they don't know and reap the commission should some of those people buy books from

But company officials said they've adopted a "zero tolerance" for spam. Any complaints will be investigated immediately, and commissions won't be paid to people who violate the bookseller's antispam policy, which is listed at its Web site. already sells its products through some 120,000 affiliates, which embed links to the bookseller in their own Web sites for a cut of sales. Typically, affiliate commissions range between 5% and 7%.'s partners in the new program are Inc., an Internet

e-mail box provider, and Be Free Inc., which sells affiliate marketing software and services.

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