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« Amazon Kindle, Part 3 | Main | Amazon Kindle, Part 1 »

Amazon Kindle, Part 2

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).

"The Chaos Scenario"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.

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