Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Kindle Webinar Questions, Part II

As promised, here are some of the other questions I wasn't able to get to during my recent Kindle webinar:

Can you put things on your Kindle that aren't just products from Amazon?

Absolutely, and this is probably one of the most underutilized features of the Kindle. One of the more common complaints is that the Kindle is a closed system and that you have to go to Amazon for content. That's simply not true. For example, Feedbooks is a great source of alternative content and everything I've gotten from Feedbooks is 100% free. That's just one example as there are a variety of other sources out there as well. Also, I put a lot of the Word and PDF files from my day gig as a publisher on my Kindle -- it's better than printing them out and Amazon's free conversion service is very effective.

How secure is the content on a Kindle? Are there any piracy concerns?
The first rule of thumb here is that nothing is truly 100% secure. If enough hackers want to unlock your protected files they'll find a way to do it, period. That said, I haven't heard of any serious issues up to now with Kindle content. Don't forget though that DRM-protected content isn't the only type that's readable on a Kindle. Mobi, PDFs and Word files (the latter two must be converted first) can all be distributed and read on a Kindle with no DRM whatsoever.

Do you ever think Amazon will ever sell the Kindle in retail spaces? For example, what about an airport vending machine like the Sony Reader?
I think the retailer hole is one of the biggest problems preventing the Kindle from really taking off. So many people I've spoken with have never even heard of the Kindle let alone seen or touched one. And I'm talking about a group that consists mostly of Amazon customers, so clearly the promotional work Amazon is doing for the Kindle on their website isn't all that effective. I'm not sure if Amazon will ever put the Kindle in retail outlets but I think they ought to.

Have you used the Kindle overseas, meaning have you been able to download files when outside the U.S.?
I haven't been outside the U.S. since I got my Kindle earlier this year, so I have no experience on this front. Others have though and I talked a bit about one solution in this earlier post.

How would you effectively use the Kindle for viral marketing?
Great question! If I were running a PR department I'd do my best to gather as many names of Kindle owners as possible. Grab 'em off Amazon pages. Use Google to see who the top bloggers are. Run a publicity campaign to give any Kindle owner a free copy of one of my books if they'll provide their e-mail address. Once I have a great list I'd start refining it, finding out what genres each person is interested in. I'd then use that list to start sending out preview information, sample content, entire free books, etc., to generate buzz for my list.

The more I think about it, this is probably an excellent opportunity for a third-party to start up and sell as a service to all publishers... It takes the review/galley copy program to a whole new level, but without all the cost of printing and shipping. Imagine if you could get every Kindle owner to register for this free program; many wouldn't take part, but the ones that did could create some very exciting buzz for all sorts of new publications.


Anonymous said...

I used my kindle in Paris, downloading public domain books in French recommended by French friends. I had to download to my laptop first, though. But as we all know, the whispernet technology (i.e., cell phone) does not work outside the US.

Anonymous said...


I love your suggestion about viral marketing. I've got to get working on it very soon. What a great concept.

As always, I learn something from your posts.

Walt Shiel
View From the Publishing Trenches

Joe Wikert said...

Thanks Walt -- you're too kind!