I promised to talk about some audience-building things Amazon is doing with the Kindle, and my favorite is what I call "snacking."
Amazon gives its Kindle customers the ability to download for free a sample chapter of any of the 300,000 digital books it has in stock. This does a few things: One, it mimics the experience one has in a bookstore, where you can physically sample a book before buying.
But, unlike a bookstore, you can download a bunch of sample chapters and "snack" on a variety of topics without buying. As I right, I have about two dozen sample chapters on my Kindle in a variety of genres: music, sports fiction, technology, information law and more.
I shouldn't tell Amazon this -- I suspect they've learned it themselves -- but in many cases, one chapter is enough for me. Other times, I have purchased books after sampling a chapter. Examples include "The Future Arrived Yesterday," "The Ghost Map" and "The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music" (absolutely terrific book, BTW).
Amazon also is leveraging speed to market by releasing books on Kindle before the print versions. Some books, usually little-known fiction, are digital only. But others, are being released early on Kindle to 1) drive sales to "early adopters/Kindle users" and 2) generate pre-print buzz. The latest example is "The Chaos Scenario" by Bob Garfield, editor of AdAge, who is the latest ad/marketing "expert" to weigh in on how technology is tearing up the traditional media landscape (more on that topics in future posts).
But back to the topic of "snacking": The simple feature of letting people sample chapters is smart business from a sales perspective but it's brilliant in that its one more "extra" that Amazon include to justify why people would pay $359 for a device that essentially is a cash register for Amazon (yeah, the iPhone/iTouch version of Kindle is free, but you get what you pay for; the experience isn't bad, just not over-the-top ala K2).
<b>Next up:</b> I'll share some thoughts on how and whether there's a place for media companies in the world of Kindle and other e-readers.