Monday, December 31, 2007

Limited Time Kindle Exclusives

As long as Amazon is out-of-stock there's probably no incentive for them to come up with creative ideas to spur more demand for the Kindle. Assuming they'll actually get to a point where they have plenty of units on-hand and want to drive more sales, they ought to consider what Paul L. suggests on Kindle Korner.

In short, Paul suggests that Amazon offer books for the Kindle before they're available in print. Publishers have absolutely nothing to lose on this deal, btw. Bear in mind that most books are (or could be) available in electronic format 2-4 weeks (or more) before they appear in print on bookstore shelves. Amazon could use this opportunity to offer the content on the Kindle as an exclusive deal for, say, a 30-day period. Given the right author, some percentage of rabid fans would no doubt consider this to be the reason to take the plunge and buy a Kindle...or it would at least help them justify it in their mind.

Imagine a world in which Amazon has cut a deal with a number of publishers and will now have new books from all the top-selling authors available only on the Kindle for the first 30 days. Buy it on the Kindle and read it before the print version even shows up in your local store. Pretty compelling.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Kindle Easter Eggs

Although we're quickly approaching New Year's Day, thanks to

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Amazon Should Consider WiFi for Kindle 2.0

First it was all the folks in Montana who couldn't connect to Sprint's cellular network, now it's...this poor soul who lives just outside Minneapolis?! When I first heard of Amazon's no-fee wireless connectivity for the Kindle I thought it was cool. Now I think it's a gimmick that needs help.

Think about it. What will you spend more time doing with a Kindle...being connected or reading? The answer is reading, by far. Despite the fact that newspapers and magazines can be updated real time, this isn't a device that requires 100% connectivity. In fact, I almost wonder if Amazon wouldn't have been better served by configuring Kindle with WiFi built in rather than the cell network. Most people are going to have their Kindle sitting on a desk or table at home each night, ready for seamless connection to the router that connects your home computer(s). Even when you're on the road most hotels offer free or very cheap WiFi capabilities.

Look at it this way: If Amazon were to offer two flavors of Kindle version 2.0, one with Sprint connectivity and one with WiFi, I know I'd buy the latter. I also wonder if that wouldn't result in a cheaper unit price since Amazon wouldn't have to pay Sprint for cell access. I'd be perfectly happy limiting my book/content downloads to those times when I also have WiFi access, which is the majority of each day!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Kindle's Cancellation Policy: Very UnAmazon-ish

Doesn't it drive you nuts when a company makes it simple to buy but difficult to cancel or return your purchase? Amazon prides itself on customer service and rightfully so. Then again, I've never tried to return anything to them so I'm not sure how difficult that would be...

If you ever decide to cancel your Kindle magazine or blog subscriptions prepare yourself for something other than a 1-click operation. In fact, even though the Kindle is touted as PC-free, your computer will come in handy when you look to cancel a Kindle subscription.

As Harry McCracken notes in this PC World article, it's difficult (at best) to cancel a subscription on the Kindle. This is a very unfortunate design flaw and something that Amazon needs to fix sooner rather than later.

It's sad to think that Amazon would reduce itself to the level of AOL and every other company with shady cancellation procedures. It's clearly a business practice that's put in place with the intention of discouraging cancellations. After all, if the customer can't quickly figure out how to cancel, they're more likely to give up and just keep the subscription. The cancellation process should be just as simple as the purchasing one.

Amazon, is it really worth sacrificing your sparkling customer service record just to reduce subscription cancellations? That seems like an awful trade-off to me.

Kindle Korner Reader Suggestion

If you're a Kindle owner and you aren't already aware of it, you need to check out the Kindle Korner group on Yahoo. A lot of great discussions are already taking place there and one in particular caught my eye. This link takes you to a thread where one Kindle Korner reader suggests a new feature:

I would love to see a button for "E-mail me when available in Kindle format" on the main page of various books. Sort of like they have for upcoming new releases. It would give Amazon a way to track how many people want a title that hasn't been converted, and maybe provide that information to the publisher. Plus, it would allow Amazon to contact us as soon as the title is available, and thereby sell more copies. Even better would be to work this into the next firmware version for the Kindle so we'd have a menu ON THE KINDLE that showed two things:

1) Wishlist of books we're going to buy when we get around to it.

2) List of books we're waiting to be converted to Kindle format.

As soon as a book is made available, it gets moved off list #2 and onto list #1. This is similar to how Netflix does their rental page and movies that haven't been released onto DVD yet...
At least one follow-up comment noted that this would be yet another button on the product page that wouldn't apply to most Amazon customers. True, so why not just implement it so that it only gets displayed on the screen if the customer already owns a Kindle? Amazon has all this information and could dynamically build the page to show certain Kindle-specific elements like this if the person logged in is a Kindle owner.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Kindle Hacking

If you're a hard core technology hacker, not afraid of taking things apart and seeing how they work, you'll love the series of Kindle hack posts on the Reversing Everything blog. It's certainly not for the faint of heart but it's always interesting to watch as someone else tears apart the latest gadget. Plus, you never know what sort of add-on's and other third-party applications might come from these efforts.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Kindle Backorders: When Does "Favorable Buzz" Become "Disgruntled Masses"?

I know of one person who has canceled their Kindle order and another who's on the verge of doing the same. Why? The lengthy backorders with no end in sight. This post on the Mobility Site blog claims that members of Yahoo's Kindle Korner group haven't seen an order shipped since 12/11. Yikes.

At some point, doesn't the buzz created from limited availability start to backfire when customers get discouraged and give up? I want to see the Kindle succeed (otherwise, why launch this blog?!), but this out-of-stock situation doesn't appear to be getting any better and I'm starting to wonder about the missed opportunity for Amazon. Sure, most folks will probably leave their orders sit for weeks or maybe even months, but this whole situation is so unusual for Amazon, an organization that prides itself on customer service. I can't help but wonder if they would have been better served waiting to launch till they had tens of thousands of units on-hand.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Kindle's PR Revolution

Rohit Bhargava is the brains behind the Influencial Marketing Blog. One of his more recent posts has to do with what he calls the "PR revolution" that the Kindle brings. He presents four reasons to support this revolution (my thoughts in italics):

  1. RSS becomes a necessity. A subtle, but important fact. The more I rely on my RSS reader the more I realize that your site/content simply doesn't exist if I have to go out and find it.
  2. It integrates the reading experience. This is the point that really caught my eye. Imagine a future version of the Kindle becoming a document hub that enables you do do lightweight editing and other document processing without having to lug around your laptop. Very nice.
  3. It puts a premium on real time information. As Rohit notes, errata could become a thing of the past, particularly if the book you bought maintains some sort of live/update link back to the Amazon server.
  4. It leverages the Amazon library. This point is a bit overstated since the number of titles available for the Kindle today is a tiny fraction of the total number of titles Amazon sells in print. But, the Kindle list will continue to grow and eventually be as large as the total Amazon list.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bill McCoy Pleads for Kindle Openness

Adobe blogger Bill McCoy provides his thoughts on the Kindle with this recent blog post. His chief complaint is a common one, that Amazon needs to open the Kindle platform and enable other content resellers to participate. I tend to agree, but market forces will prevail.

As long as Amazon feels they're meeting their sales and revenue objectives, and this is hard to gauge since the device has been out of stock since day one, they're unlikely to open the system anytime soon. If the Forrester projection comes to fruition and they sell less than 50K units in the first year, well, that might cause Amazon to rethink their strategy; I've got to believe 50K would be considered a failure for such a eagerly anticipated product as the Kindle.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

MSNBC Reviews the Kindle: Love the Service, Hate the Device

Lori Smith of MSNBC offered up this recent review of the Kindle. She compared the Sony Reader to Kindle and ultimately decided she'd like to take the best of both to create a better solution. She loves Amazon's service but, like so many others, feels the Kindle is clunky. She also let some coworkers play with both and provided this feedback:

I gave both devices to several people around the office — invariably, the early adopter geeks oohed and ahhed over the Kindle, but the actual book fans found the Reader far more comfortable and even sort of sighed pleasurably as they opened it. "It really feels like a book," was a common comment.
Here's to hoping Amazon will address this product design gap with Kindle Version 2.0. Btw, wouldn't you think a major site like MSNBC would allow reader feedback on their stories?! I wanted to add a couple of comments to Smith's review but there's no way to do so. Wow, even my low-tech local newspaper's site has reader comment functionality!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Unlimited Content: The Killer Kindle App?

I promise not to do this very often, but in this case I couldn't resist... I just posted an article on my Publishing 2020 blog about what I consider to be an enormous opportunity for the Kindle. The idea has to do with unlimited content access, much like what Rhapsody brings to the music world. I posted the article on my other blog because I think it has ramifications for the entire publishing industry, not just the world of Kindle.

Here's a link to the post. I hope you'll check it out and weigh in on the idea.

Kindle Owner Interview: Mary Minow

Mary Minow writes for the LibraryLaw blog and is has written several insightful posts about the Kindle (see here, here and here). She also agreed to an interview as a new Kindle owner. Here are her thoughts on the device so far:

JW: Given the $400 price point and first generation technology, how hard was the decision to make the commitment and buy your Kindle?

MM: A couple of things made that easy. First, I'm willing to try something and return it within 30 days, so I didn't feel that it was a commitment to give it a shot. Second, my husband gave it to me :>

JW: How many books do you typically read in a year? What genre do you tend to focus on?

MM: I couldn't count...especially because I pick up armloads of nonfiction and read pieces of them. I like biography, travel, anything in the 020s, 090s, 300s, 910s … (Dewey). As for fiction, I go with very hot bestsellers and old classics. I'm a Harry Potter fan, but it’s not available in Kindle edition. I’ve read a few sample chapters, though, from Kindle books about Harry Potter.

JW: What has been your impression of the Kindle so far?

MM: Oh my - where do I begin. As soon as I had it in my hand for an hour, I knew I wouldn't return it. The screen is so easy to read, and the size is just right for me. Yes, the buttons on the right edge are too big, but I can find ways to hold on without accidentally turning the page (too often, anyway). It may sound cliché, but it did just what Bezos promised - it disappeared and there I was, lost in a book, Candide. I've tried reading ebooks on a pocketpc, a treo and a tablet. Never made it through more than half a book, and even that was rare. Too small or too hot or too much flickering. I find myself reading on the Kindle for hours and hours, more comfortably than with a stack of papers or even a hardback book. And when I’m away from my desk, it’s all still easy to get to.

I’m a very enthusiastic user. I even agreed to be part of a Kindle focus group sponsored by Amazon.

JW: Have you been using your Kindle for anything other than book reading (e.g., magazine/newspaper subscriptions, blogs, etc.)?

MM: YES. I've been reading student papers from a digital copyright class I teach at San Jose State. I subscribe to the Kindle New York Times and the San Jose Mercury News. Within two days, I suspended my paper subscriptions. I'm reading MORE of the paper, with a lot less clutter around the house. I miss the graphics, though.

I love the two week free trials. I enjoyed a trial of the Irish Times, and delighted in getting tomorrow's paper the night before. The built-in dictionary was great to look up words like "Taoiseach."

I've tried several free trials of blogs, but couldn't bring myself to pay for any of them. I can read blogs for free anyway, using bloglines mobile and the clunky Kindle web browser, though it’s not as slick.

But the coolest thing for me is that I can easily take loads of .docs and .pdfs from my computer, send and convert them to the KINDLE. Dead simple and quick.

JW: How do you feel about the pricing levels Amazon is featuring since launch for e-books, magazines, etc.?

MM: If you think of the price as $9.99 for a book that retails at $35, then of course it sounds excellent. But it's not, really. It's $9.99 to have the USE of a book for a while, on one device (and select others registered to the same account). The DRM Kindle version is not compatible with any other devices, and let's face it, you can't count on using this device in a few years. There are $1 titles like Huckleberry Finn, but that's really crazy, since it's easy to get mobipocket editions of public domain titles like that for free from and others. If all you want to do, though, is read a book once, now, and you don’t want to get it from the library, it meets that need at a reasonable price. I love the free chapters. It’s better than browsing in a bookstore in some ways, because I can browse whenever and wherever I want. It’s limited, though, to the chapters offered by Amazon.

JW: Do you have any recommendations for Amazon to consider when they look to finalize a feature set for Kindle 2.0?

MM: I'd like to be able to borrow bestsellers as ebooks from the library and have them work on the Kindle (and disappear when they are due). The Kindle should definitely be able to read books in the epub standard, developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum. Overdrive just announced its support for epub yesterday.

This is very significant. I understand the need for control of the content, but digital rights management (DRM) overreaches, particularly when content you buy doesn’t work on other devices. It’s like buying a CD that plays only in your CD player, but not in your car, or on your computer.

Someone has already cracked the Kindle DRM to allow machines to read DRMed Mobipocket. But that's not a good solution for legitimate users. In most cases, it’s illegal to circumvent a technological protection measure. Authors and publishers are understandably fearful of having their content completely unprotected. But if every vendor uses its own DRM, ordinary consumers will get really upset and go to extreme measures like hacking. Look at how common and easy it is for people to bypass DVD encryption today. Amazon needs to work with epublishers through the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) to develop another solution. First, start with a standard (unencrypted) format, i.e. the .epub standard, Second, if DRM must be used, make it interoperable with other consumer devices.

My colleague David Rothman, at, has fought for years for meaningful e-book standards. He tells me: "It would be great for the IDPF to develop testing tools that can assure that various products truly work with .epub. There's been past talk of this, and along with some others, I'm also in favor of an .epub logo. At the consumer level there could be .epub logos for e-readers, PDAs, and cellphones that came with .epub software. Later when interoperable DRM is possible, a logo of a different color could be used. Then e-books would finally be like audio CDs--easy to shop for, without format hassles. This would be a godsend for libraries, which could offer a lot more e-books, knowing that the standards wouldn't become obsolete." [Emphasis added]

Saturday, December 15, 2007

RapidRepair Disassembles the Kindle

You recently got your lovely new Kindle and wouldn't dream of taking it apart. But aren't you curious to see what's inside?

Don't worry, the nice folks at RapidRepair took one apart for you and describe the process here. The site is loaded with great pictures of Kindle guts, just like the one you see to the left. That one, btw, is the main board in the device.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kindle Owner Interview: Lisa Haneberg

In my ongoing quest to interview several Kindle owners I managed to find Lisa Haneburg and her Management Craft blog. In addition to her initial review of the Kindle I found her blog to be full of excellent management insight; be sure to check it out. Here are Lisa's answers to my questions:

JW: Given the $400 price point and first generation technology, how hard was the decision to make the commitment and buy your Kindle?

LH: I was lucky and one of my friends and blog readers bought it for me! That said, I would have bought one. We spend $300 on iPods and $600 on Blackberries, and this seems like something much more interesting in terms of fun and quality of life. It transcends just business and enables more leisure reading.

JW: How many books do you typically read in a year? What genre do you tend to focus on?

LH: I read between 75-100 books a year clumped into three areas, nonfiction/business, fiction, and essays.

JW: What has been your impression of the Kindle so far?

LH: I love how easy it is to read. The page forward and back bars make it seem like a natural reading experience. After a few pages, I don't even realize I am flipping the pages, I am just reading.

JW: Have you been using your Kindle for anything other than book reading ( e.g., magazine/newspaper subscriptions, blogs, etc.)?

LH: I have the New York Times, Slate, and the Onion coming in. There are publications I was not reading on a regular basis before and it is nice to have this at my finger tips. The blog selections are too limited at this time.

JW: How do you feel about the pricing levels Amazon is featuring since launch for e-books, magazines, etc.?

LH: The prices seem fine. Books are cheaper, so that's nice. I understand that part of the price is to offset the wireless communication costs. I would rather pay for the subscription than have to subscribe to another wireless plan. This way it feels more like pay-as-I-go.

JW: Do you have any recommendations for Amazon to consider when they look to finalize a feature set for Kindle 2.0?

LH: This is not mechanical, but I do not like the cover at all. It is stiff and the Kindle does not fit well into it. Perhaps some aftermarket covers will come out. Also, I think that making in in Black might make the already bright page pop even more. Some people want to see a color screen, but I like the traditional black and white. Again, it does look like a printed page.

Forrester Projects 50K Kindles (at best) in First Year

Forrester analyst James McQuivey just released this research document saying that Amazon will be lucky to sell 50,000 Kindles in the first year. He goes on to say that "the Kindle solves problems that publishers and retailers have, not problems that readers have."

Kindle version 1.0 is definitely an expensive luxury for most people. I'm not sure it's safe to say that future versions will really be built to solve a "problem" though. Amazon is simply offering another way for readers to obtain content. Yes, the $400 price is wicked high. That should come down over time though. Additionally, I have every bit of confidence in Amazon to create special content offerings, subscriptions, etc., that will make the Kindle even more attractive down the road.

Kindle Owner Interview: Kit Redmond

My next Kindle owner interview is with Kit Redmond. Kit is obviously an extremely nice guy since he's willing to share his Kindle with his wife...I wonder how many other Kindle owners are this unselfish! Unfortunately for Kit, his Kindle only lasted two days and he's awaiting a replacement unit. Here's what he had to say:

JW: Given the $400 price point and first generation technology, how hard was the decision to make the commitment and buy your Kindle?

KR: The decision wasn't hard at all. My wife and I considered all the books we take with us on vacation and how much space we would save, plus the convenience. And we had faith in Amazon.

JW: How many books do you typically read in a year? What genre do you tend to focus on?

KR: I read 15 to 20 and my wife reads 40 to 50. I read thrillers, history, current events, poetry.

JW: What has been your impression of the Kindle so far?

KR: Initially, we were very impressed. It didn't take long at all to immerse yourself in the story and the electronic format was not a hindrance. But two days after we got it, the Kindle stop working all together. After calling Customer Service a couple of times we were finally informed that it would be approximately two weeks until we could receive a replacement. We were disappointed that Amazon did not have a contingency to replace faulty Kindles immediately. The Customer service representative told me that they only had a small support staff. Those answers were not acceptable to me for a device that was so new and so expensive.

JW: Have you been using your Kindle for anything other than book reading (e.g., magazine/newspaper subscriptions, blogs, etc.)?

KR: I had just subscribed to Readers Digest, but didn't get the opportunity to read it before the Kindle malfunctioned.

JW: How do you feel about the pricing levels Amazon is featuring since launch for e-books, magazines, etc.?

KR: The pricing sounds quite reasonable.

JW: Do you have any recommendations for Amazon to consider when they look to finalize a feature set for Kindle 2.0?

KR: It's hard to handle the Kindle while reading without accidentally pressing a button that will turn the page. It would be nice if they could engineer the next version to take that into account. The cover they ship the Kindle with is quite useless while reading. It doesn't fit snugly.

Thorough Kindle Review

Here's an extremely detailed review of the Kindle from the AppleInsider site. It's the most thorough review I've seen so far, complete with several great photos comparing the Kindle to a laptop, to paper and even to an iPhone. Don't be fooled by the fact that the review is written by an "Apple insider"'s not an "Apple-is-awesome-and-your-design-stinks-by-comparison" rant at all. Very "fair and balanced," as they say.

Thanks to reader Alistair S. for sending this one along, btw.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kindle Owner Interview: Michael Puhala

The Kindle isn't even a month old yet and availability remains limited. In fact, Amazon still reports they're out of stock and that new orders won't arrive till after Christmas. So who owns a Kindle and what do they think of it? I plan to help answer that question by seeking out early adopters who have had some time to test drive their Kindle.

My first interviewee is Michael Puhala. Michael writes an excellent blog on interface design and has made several Kindle posts of his own (see this one on a comparison of the Kindle to the Sony Reader, this one on how to read PDF files on a Kindle, this initial review of his Kindle and this open letter to Jeff Bezos about the Kindle).

Here are Michael's answers to my Kindle questions:

JW: Given the $400 price point and first generation technology, how hard was the decision to make the commitment and buy your Kindle?

MP: This would have been a much easier decision had the price tag been at $300 rather than $400. It was a little hard to swallow at first, but the deciding factor was the wireless functionality and the size of Amazon's content library. Amazon would be wise to find a brick and mortar distribution channel as I bought this on blind faith without ever touching it or trying it out. Word of mouth is important but will slow the adoption. If they can figure out a way of self-registration (similar to the iPhone), then distributing the Kindle through Costco for $379.00 would bode well for Amazon (with the ability to demo).

JW: How many books do you typically read in a year? What genre do you tend to focus on?

MP: I probably read about 20 books a year, mostly non-fiction works on business or technology, however when I am on vacation, I will move over to fiction works (suspense, mystery). I also regularly read the Bible on the Kindle.

JW: What has been your impression of the Kindle so far?

MP: For the most part, favorable. I am more impressed with the service than I am with the device itself. I like the device but it does not really have the feel of a $400 high-tech innovation. Automatic delivery, instant access to content and reference materials (i.e. dictionary and Wikipedia) make me a satisfied customer.

JW: Have you been using your Kindle for anything other than book reading (e.g., magazine/newspaper subscriptions, blogs, etc.)?

MP: Yes. I have subscribed to the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and to Time Magazine. I have chosen not subscribe to any blogs. For me, the killer feature of the Kindle is the automatic delivery of subscription based content. Browsing a newspaper or magazine on the Kindle has been terrific. I suspect that this will change, but not having to read through any advertising as I am reading is great. Also, not having to deal with paper is definitely a welcome change. No folding of the paper, or finding the continuation of an article on some other page that I have to hunt for is a good thing.

JW: How do you feel about the pricing levels Amazon is featuring since launch for e-books, magazines, etc.?

MP: I probably would not have bought the device if the e-books were the same or more money than their hard-copy versions. I like the $9.99 or less approach for books and I think it is a fair price. For magazines, I like the fact that I could buy a monthly subscription or spend a little more to buy an individual issue. As I mentioned before, since there is no advertising in the periodicals, it's more enjoyable to read through both newspapers and magazines.

JW: Do you have any recommendations for Amazon to consider when they look to finalize a feature set for Kindle 2.0?

MP: Yes -- I have several recommendations. My most adamant recommendation is that Amazon should get out of the electronics business and open up the Kindle store as a platform for other e-reader manufactures to connect to. Just like different cell phone manufactures can connect to the same service provider, I would love to see a choice in e-readers with the same wireless options as the Kindle and with the ability to connect directly to the Amazon store. However, if that does not happen, I would like for Amazon to improve the Kindle by making it a little thinner, offer some sort of metallic casing (or at least a hybrid of metal and plastic), and different colors. Functionally, it has the potential to be a wonderful email device if they can improve the performance of typing and screen refresh. Regarding the ergonomics, I would like to see the forward and back buttons not take as much real estate as they do presently. Even shrinking them down a half-inch in height would improve the device and the ability to hold it without accidentally moving forward or backwards would improve the usability substantially.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Simon & Schuster Embraces eBook Devices

My Wiley colleague Ashley Z. recently attended the AAP's Introduction to Publishing Conference and brought back some interesting information about Simon & Schuster. According to Michael Selleck, Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing, S&S has been very proactive in utilizing eBook devices internally.

During Selleck's talk at the conference he mentioned both the Sony eReader as well as Amazon's Kindle and noted how these devices are really helping S&S avoid printing materials for meetings. In fact, here's a link to a page on the S&S site that talks about how "all sales reps have been given an eBook reader, replacing photocopied manuscripts." It goes on to say that "S&S estimates that this initiative has the potential to reduce the number of manuscripts reproduced for its sales division by 20,000 per year."

Hearing a publisher talk about how their content can be purchased and read by consumers on an eBook device is old news, but it's exciting to see a big organization like S&S adopt this technology for internal use. Kudos to the forward-thinking folks at Simon & Schuster!

Kindle Book Subscriptions

I mentioned the concept of a new and improved book club model for the Kindle in this post on my Publishing 2020 blog last week. Now I'm starting to wonder about the prospects for what could be called a "book subscription." This isn't viable for some types of books, but think about ones where you tend to pick up new editions from time to time. Technology books are a great example, and not just because I work with them every day...

Let's say you're currently using Windows XP and might upgrade to Windows Vista in 2008. Let's further assume you bought a reference guide on XP for your Kindle and are faced with the prospects of buying the Vista edition of that same book next year. Wouldn't it be nice to have the option of buying a subscription to that book so that you could download updated editions as needed? If the XP edition for your Kindle cost $10, would you pay more than $10 knowing that it buys you access to the XP version as well as any other editions that come out in the next 2 years, for example?

Again, this model isn't for all types of books but there are some where it makes a lot of sense. The connectivity model Amazon created for the Kindle is a great enabler for this sort of solution.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

How Many Kindles Did Amazon Sell?

Kindle has been sold out from day one. If you don't have yours already you won't see it before Christmas. With all the buzz about how Amazon can't keep this in stock, it begs the question: Just how many did they build? 10,000? 100,000? Everyone is speculating because Amazon isn't saying. I don't have any insider information on this but I believe all the facts point to a very small number, probably less than 5,000 and maybe as small as 1,000-2,000.

What am I basing this one? First, look at the number of customer reviews. Unlike the typical book page on Amazon, the Kindle has been the subject of open debate long before it was actually released. In fact, I seem to recall there were over 300 customer reviews posted the day Kindle was announced. Keep in mind that anyone ordering Kindle wasn't going to see and review it till the day after it was announced, so the vast majority of those 300+ posts on day one were from people who hadn't even touched a Kindle yet!

As of today, the number of customer reviews is still less than 1,000. That means that from the second day of availability till today there have been fewer than 700 additional customer reviews posted. 700 is a huge number, unless you're talking about a product with this much buzz. If you have a Kindle you're probably the first on your block and you're also highly likely to post a review; most early adopters are pretty outspoken after all, right? (See the iPhone for "Exhibit A" on this argument!)

Amazon has been roundly criticized for the high price and poor design of Kindle 1.0. Did it ever occur to you that maybe this is really nothing more than a beta version? A live beta, with real customers, of course, but a beta version nonetheless. OK, maybe "beta" is too strong a word, but Amazon undoubtedly knew they could sell a few thousand Kindles to early adopters regardless of price or functionality, so why wouldn't they? After all, if you have one today you're the envy of thousands of others. You just forked over $400 and feel lucky to one of a small number of Kindle owners. Are you really likely to complain about your purchase? No way. You're out there telling the world how great it is and how smart you were for ordering it so quickly.

Meanwhile, Amazon is working in a fairly small, controlled environment, collecting all sorts of great customer feedback for Kindle version 1.0, getting $400 for each (pseudo-beta) customer and (hopefully) treating this as research for version 2.0 and beyond. Pretty smart if you ask me.

Biting, Witty Kindle Video Review

I've spent a good deal of time trolling through YouTube for the best Kindle video review. This one, by Shelly Palmer of Media 3.0, is the best by far. It's short (less than 2 minutes) but chock full of insight and sarcasm...what a great combination!

Welcome to Kindleville!

Consider this my "hello, world" post for this new blog, Kindleville.

Why the name "Kindleville"? My goal is to turn this into a site that's everything Kindle: News, bestseller lists, videos and much, much more.

I'm a book publisher by day and a book lover by night. Although I think Kindle Version 1.0 is far from perfect, I'm excited to see what Amazon has in store for us with versions 2.0, 3.0 and beyond.

Kindleville is an outgrowth of my Publishing 2020 blog, where I provide analysis and opinions about the publishing and content worlds. Once Kindle was released I found the urge to blog more about it than anything else in our industry; I decided to launch this new blog rather than change the focus of Publishing 2020.