Thursday, January 29, 2009

Amazon Adds Over 7,300 Free Public Domain Books to the Kindle Store

Just 11 days before its February 9 press conference on the Kindle at New York's Morgan Library, Amazon has just added over 7,300 free public domain books to its Kindle Store catalog.

To access these titles and download them to your Kindle within seconds at no charge, just go to the Kindle Store and type or paste "Public Domain Books" (with the quotation marks) into the search field. Not to put too fine a point on this, but these are not junk titles -- just type the name of one of your favorite classic authors into your search and you will likely be pleased with the return.

Just a sign of big things to come -- the one promise, from the original Kindle launch, on which Amazon has delivered the least is Kindle access to "every book ever printed."

That will take a long while, but I would be surprised if, from the library, there is not an announcement about deal(s) through which Amazon participates in such ventures as Google Reader, Creative Commons, Project Gutenberg to bring about a dramatic increase in access to titles. In Amazon's customer-experience business model, such deals need not even be significantly monetized: a dime here and a dime there would work just fine, since it would all build the primacy of the Kindle Store destination.

Imagine: What if Amazon Announces an iPhone App for the Kindle Store on February 9?

Most of the "smart people" tend to be very "inside the box" when they think about the Kindle 2.0, as if Jeff Bezos was going to appear at the Morgan Library February 9 to announce a color screen or the end of those pesky Kindle-length next-page bars. Please, have a martini and spin free, people!

Maybe it will be February 9, 2009, or maybe it will be February 9, 2010, but sooner or later there is going to be a so-called Kindle Killer. And chances are that it will come from Amazon itself, in the form of an iPhone app that allows the iPhone and the iPod touch to access the relentlessly exploding catalog of the Kindle store while sharing revenues nicely between Amazon, Apple, the publishers, and the authors. Can't we all just get along?

Several months ago, while preparing some speculative Kindle 2.0 material for The Complete User's Guide to the Amazing Amazon Kindle, I transcribed this remarkable but brief exchange between Chris Anderson and Jeff Bezos at the 2008 Book Expo America. You can check my transcription and listen to the entire podcast here, but in my view it is this exchange which states most clearly that the primary importance of the Kindle for Amazon lies in four things: it jumpstarts significant electronic book sales; it positions the books in the Kindle store as the primary source of e-reader content; it sets the bar higher than it had previously been set for form factor, feature set, and delivery mode for electronic books; and it gives Amazon a seat at the head of the table in shaping this area of book commerce going forward.

Q. "In Asia, [there are] cell phone serials, cell phone comics, cell phone mangas, etc. I guess, first question, what have you learned from the mobile reading experience in Asia? Secondly, does that in itself put the Kindle in competition with the cell phone down the line as cell phones have better screens, etc."
--Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail

A. "Maybe the hardware device, yes, but not necessarily the Kindle books. The Kindle books, maybe they should be available on every device. We created Kindle because we’ve been selling e-Books for 10 years, but we needed an electron microscope to find the sales. And so, three years ago we said, Look, what we need to do is create a perfect, integrated, streamlined customer experience all the way through, so we’ll build the device, we’ll build the back-end servers, we’ll digitize the content ourselves if we need to. Whatever it takes, we’re going to build a great customer experience, to get that thing started. If we can get other devices to also be able to buy Kindle books, through other devices, that’s great."
--Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon


Something New for Kindle Purchases: The Amazon Kindle Gift Card!

While all the buzz right now concerns the Kindle 2.0 that will be unveiled in just 12 days by Jeff Bezos in New York's Morgan Library and Museum, there's another thing that is new under the sun for Kindle owners and those who want to please them to no end!

That's Amazon's new Kindle Gift Card, which makes it a snap to provide Kindle owners with funds for all those Kindle books (and other content) they want to read and buy on their Kindles.

The newly introduced Kindle Gift Card addresses a pet peeve of Kindle 1.0 owners and their friends and loved ones, which is that -- unlike everything else on the virtual shelves of the Amazon store -- there has been no smooth and easy way to make gifts of Kindle content.

To order a Kindle gift card, gift certificate, or email a gift credit in any quantity or any amount from $5 to $5,000, just click here, look for the "click to select design" link, and use the "Select" button to choose the "Amazon Kindle" gift card. Complete your purchase and you're all set, and yes, you can even send a Kindle gift card to yourself as a way of streamlining your Kindle purchases or, perish the thought, staying on a budget!

Exciting news: Getting in line for a 2nd Generation Kindle

In keeping with my longstanding policy of using this blog to update my readers on new material in my Kindle books and new developments concerning the Kindle itself, I am writing this morning with exciting news.

None of us -- customers, authors, bloggers, pundits, or market analysts -- can ever be certain about exactly what Amazon will do with the Kindle or any other business venture until the company actually does it. But my expectations about the company's long-awaited roll-out of the Kindle 2.0 have been firming up with the company's recent moves, and it is time to share them with you.

Based on these developments and on conversations that -- for obvious reasons -- I cannot source here, I am confident that Amazon will begin shipping the Kindle 2.0 in February. As you may already be aware, Amazon has been building up a huge backlog of Kindle orders over the past three months. The company's plan, it says here, is to contact these back-ordered customers in the next few weeks to offer them the chance to upgrade their order to a Kindle 2.0, at relatively small additional cost (about 10% of the existing Kindle price).

Naturally, interest in the Kindle 2.0 is going to spiral upward over the next few weeks. If you want to be one of the first in line for a new Kindle 2.0 when the units begin to ship, the best thing to do today is to order a new Kindle from Amazon's main Kindle buying page, if you have not done so already.

One thing that Amazon knows is that one of the biggest sources for Kindle 2.0 orders will be previous Kindle 1.0 buyers. That's the main reason the company is presently in the middle of a firmware upgrade (1.2) to streamline synchronicity between multiple Kindles assigned to a single customer account. It is also the reason the company recently opened its own Marketplace features to allow easy after-market sales of Kindle 1.0 units by Kindle owners. (Just in case you would like to sell your KIndle 1.0 to help finance your Kindle 2.0, it's just as easy as selling a used book on Amazon Marketplace, and you may even turn a profit!)

I hope this information, which is based entirely upon my personal knowledge, opinions, and expertise rather than any information provided directly to me by Amazon insiders, will be helpful to you. This is also a good place for me to mention a a couple of things about my own books about the Kindle:

* First, yes, I do have a new book forthcoming about the Kindle 2.0. Although it is necessary for me to bring it out as a separate title involving a separate transaction, I will make a point of letting you know about a special 72-hour window when the Kindle edition of the new book will be available at a low introductory, promotional price of less than $2. Naturally, the contents of the Kindle 2.0 book are embargoed until the device is released.

* In the course of working on the 2.0 guide, I will also be updating some of the material in the 1.0 guide and providing it in a more user-friendly format, which I will email to you as a free doc in February, just out of appreciation.

This is already longer than I had intended, so I will close with a sincere thank you for your having walked this interesting Kindle path with me over the past year.

Happy Kindling!
Stephen Windwalker