Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Features Amazon should add to the Kindle experience

Last week, we looked at what information Amazon could give authors to provide a better experience. Quite a few of you took the time to comment and agree - thank you for that. I really do think it would be in Amazon's interest to maximise indie sales. A big part of the Kindle's success is access to affordable quality content, and data like sample to sale conversion rates could well indicate what is, and isn't, hitting the right spot.

That said, I think Amazon could do more to improve the experience for both authors and customers. I'd like to see quite a few new features to improve the overall Kindle experience:

·         'Subscribe to author' feature - Allow customers to get email notifications when their favourite authors publish something new

·         'Subscribe to series' - as above, but for specific series. Useful if the authors writes in a wide variety of genres

·         'Subscribe by narrator' - Decent narrators can introduce audio books to new listeners even if they don't know the author.

·         Audiobook integration on the same sales page allowing customers to pick 'Hardback/ Paperback/ Kindle/ Audiobook' from the format box. Audiobooks are big money, and Amazon owns audible anyway. Integration either within Amazon or via integrated outlinks to audible, make sense.

·         Offer ePub. I know Amazon love the Kindle - it's done wonders for them. However their market share is slipping. It's gone from 90%+ to more like 60% thanks to other eReaders which offer better/ different functionality. Amazon has the storefront, the convenience and the shopper base. It doesn't mean they have the best eReaders. A sensible approach would be to become a storefront once again, and sell content to everyone for use everywhere. This is the 'mp3 standard' retail approach. Same content, differing storefronts.

·         Start the sample after the front matter. EBook samples are typically 10% with an option for the author to set the length a little above or below this. The problem here is that it includes the front matter. Some authors have great spiels thanking their Mum, Dad, postman and dog. That plus legal matters etc cuts into the blurb big time. Start the sample where the story starts - no reader wants to see all that crap before they sample the story. Of course authors can minimise this by turning front matter into back matter, but sadly most don't bother.

·         A move either towards or away from BISAC categories. Amazon has a huge number of categories, and what the author selects doesn't line up well with where the book ends up. Amazon's algorithms try to context sort, but they are not perfect. Plus, some categories never get automatically allocated to, and are thus very empty.

·         Pre orders. They don't work for indies as some will inevitably miss release dates or not release at all. So, let them stick up a bare page which can't be reviewed/ liked etc with a simple blurb, cover and a 'Notify me by email when this title is available' button. Day one sales mean quick word of mouth and thus greater sales. Win-win all round for the minimal outlay in computing power.

·         Freebies without exclusivity. We all know freebies can be a shot in the arm for a flagging title, especially if it's part of a series. To go free on Amazon you either KDP Select it for 5 days per 90, or you go free everywhere and hope Amazon price match. The former requires exclusivity, and the latter is inexact on timings at best (but fine for long term free items).

So, what would guys want to see?

1 comment:

  1. Wouldn't that be wonderful to just upload files once & have Amazon distribute to ePub etc - it makes sense for them too - as it would mean their site would be the only one authors and customers need to visit.
    What I find annoying is clicking on a book link and being taken to Amazon.com site, then having to navigate to the UK site and then having to re-search for the book I'm trying to sample or maybe even purchase. It would be great if Amazon could integrate all sites, but I guess this would be too unwieldy.