Wednesday, October 8, 2008

See a Kindle in Your City

Are you familiar with Amazon's "See a Kindle in Your City" campaign? It's a great idea where Amazon uses Kindle owners to help sell the device to curious prospective customers. I put my name on the list awhile back and have had a few inquiries. My first two meetings are scheduled for next week at one of the local Starbucks.

I'm happy to help Amazon hype the Kindle, but it got me thinking... Starbucks should actually stock and sell the Kindle. Amazon has avoided brick-and-mortar distribution up to now but Starbucks would be a very interesting partner. Here's why:

  • The Kindle and Starbucks both appeal to a wealthier crowd. Given the current economic conditions it seems just as hard to justify buying an overpriced latte as a dedicated e-book reader.
  • Starbucks seems to attract a lot of bookworms. Have you ever noticed how many people are sitting around sipping and reading there?
  • And if they're not reading, they're fiddling with a computer or some other gadget. I'll bet there are a lot of early adopters in that crowd.
  • It's a branding thing. I'm no coffee connoisseur but I don't find Starbucks drinks all that special. In fact, I couldn't tell whether a cup of java is from Starbucks or McDonalds. Seriously. So when I see people walking around with their Starbucks cups, all I can think of is, "yeah, you're trying to show the world you're not afraid to drop five bucks on a 50-cent cup of coffee."
Starbucks is the Apple of beverages. If Apple didn't have their own retail chain they probably would have infiltrated Starbucks by why shouldn't Amazon do just that with the Kindle?


Tomlin said...

Yo Joe
Why not stock Kindles
at big box stores
Costco sells iPods
for instance
and as to biz and student versions
Amazon might be better off
acquiring a well-buzzed
version from an upstart company

CJ said...

I agree that Starbucks and the Kindle seem like a natural fit. I'm not so sure that actually selling the Kindle at Starbucks is the best solution, though. I worked at Starbucks for three years in college, and stuff gets stolen off the shelves frequently. While this is true of any retailer, Starbucks isn't really intended to be a retailer. They're just a coffee shop that happens to sell some extra stuff. A $350 item disappearing off the shelf would hurt the bottom line more than a $10 mug going missing.

A better way might be a joint promotion - perhaps Amazon could sponsor "See a Kindle at Your Starbucks" parties. Free coffee on Amazon, and Kindle owners and potential Kindle owners mingle. Amazon receives the benefit of the Kindle being demonstrated and Starbucks gets the extra pastry purchases of people receiving free coffee.

Anonymous said...

1. Conflict of interest. Starbucks has a relationship with Barnes and Noble, so doubtful that would fly with Starbucks.

2. I would guess in an economic tightening of the belt, people will shop more online (less $$ spent on gas, lower prices at due to unique distro system, free shipping on most items, etc)

Doesn't mean however that Amazon shouldn't consider getting out there more.

Anonymous said...

I think that they could be a good match but not as a retailer. I like the idea that cj had about Amazon sponsoring Kindle parties at Starbucks. Also I can tell you that there is a huge difference between McDonalds coffee and Starbuck's. Starbucks is far superior. Their Pike Peak blend is wonderful (and a large is only $2.05 in Va).