The Social Construction of a Bestseller, from The Formula

The following paragraph from the very smart and well-written book I am reading today is certainly not rocket science, but it is a very nice, concise summary of the way in which the ld516making of a bestseller can be very much a social process, all the more so in the age of the ebook:

“… there is an accidental quality to success, in which high-ranking songs take an early lead for reasons that seem inconsequential, based upon those taste-makers who sample it first. Once this lead is established, it is exacerbated through social feedback. A bookshop, for instance, might notice that one particular book is proving more popular than others, and therefore decide to order more copies. At this stage, the book may be selling 11 copies for every 10 sold by its next most popular rival–a marginal improvement. But when the new copies arrive they are displayed in favorable places around the shop (on a table next to the front door, for example) and soon the book is  selling twice as many copies as its closest rival. To sell even more, the bookshop then decides to try to attract new customers by lowering its own profit margins and selling the book at a reduced price. At this point the book is selling four times as many copies as its closest rival. Because customers have the impression that the book is popular (and therefore must be good) they are more likely to buy it, thereby driving sales up even more.”

from The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems . . . and Create More by Luke Dormehl (Penguin: Perigee Books – November 4, 2014)

–Steve Windwalker

 

 

It’s always fun to compare: BookBub vs. BookGorilla eBook Recommendations for Saturday, May 16, 2015

BB BG COMPS 5-16-15PicMonkey Collage

The folks over at BookBub have never asked us to help them with branding, but if they did, we’d absolutely give them credit for providing “the best ebook recommendations money can buy.”

Based on the information that they provide right on their website, we have estimated that advertisers pay BookBub well over $15,000 a day to try to get you to buy the books they recommend.

Here at BookGorilla, we take the responsibility to provide curated recommendations a bit more seriously. By comparison, over 85% of the titles that we recommend at BookGorilla are provided based solely on the merit of the book and the deal, without any associated  advertising revenue.

We think the difference shows up when one compares the books recommended on each site. We’re here to save our readers time and money by providing the books you have always wanted to read at prices you never dreamed possible.

It’s not so much that “we try harder,” as that we are trying for different things. We’re aiming for your bedside reading table, not your remainder table. And we’ve got our eyes on the prize of providing value for readers, not for venture capital investors.

-Steve Windwalker

Related posts:

 

 

 

Authors, Would You Like Your Own BookGorilla Author’s Page, Totally Free?

A few weeks ago we shared a reader-facing post about a brand new feature called BookGorilla Author’s Pages, which are meant to make it easier than ever for BookGorilla readers — and all readers — to find your books.

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 12.56.57 PMBookGorilla Author Pages are an absolutely free service, and here (at left) is a screenshot example of one that has been live for a couple of weeks, Pulitzer Prize winning NY Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof’s BookGorilla Author’s Page. We hope you like the idea.

We think this will be the ultimate win-win, because our goals are simple: we want to help great authors sell great books, and we want our readers to find the books that they want to read, at the best possible prices. (And of course, the more readers discover great deals on great books, the more BookGorilla will be rewarded, without authors having to pay a dime for this service.)

As with just about anything worth doing, the more we all put into this project, the more good will come of it,  but it is clear that It can make a nice difference not only in an author’s book sales but also in the discoverability of his page. Just the other day Nick Kristof sent these updates out to his 1.59 million Twitter followers, his 1.4 million Google Plus followers, and his 600,000+ Facebook followers:

Within a few hours three of the top five front-page Google search listings for his Kindle books (and two of the top six Bing results) were directing searchers to Nick’s BookGorilla Author’s Page.

And now we’ve added a special feature — a “Follow [this author]” button — which gives every visitor to Nick’s page the opportunity to have more of Nick’s Kindle books included in that visitor’s daily BookGorilla alert:

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Of course you don’t need millions of followers to be effective at driving traffic to your BookGorilla Author’s Page.

What you will need, if you don’t have it already, is your own BookGorilla Author’s Page. To get you started, we’ve created a user-friendly web form so you can provide everything we’ll need to create, update, or improve the accuracy of your own BookGorilla Author’s Page:

BookGorilla Author’s Page Input Form

We’ll do our best to create or update your BookGorilla Author’s Page soon after you submit this form. When your page is live or updated, we will send youa link to your  page so that you can share it with your readers and fans. Whether you use tweets, Facebook updates, a static link on your website, your email signature, or all of these, we hope you’ll use that link to spread the word and encourage your fans to click the “Follow” button on your BookGorilla Author’s Page. When readers click that button, they’ll see your books much more frequently in their daily BookGorilla alerts!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this post — we are very excited about the chance to work with you to help our readers find your books! We hope we’ll see your BookGorilla Author’s Page Input Form soon, and please feel free to share this news with other author and publisher friends!

-Steve Windwalker

Here’s something brand new: BookGorilla Author Pages!

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 5.09.57 PM
A screenshot of novelist Debbie Macomber’s BookGorilla Author Page.

We never tire of working on the kinds of improvements that have made BookGorilla a big favorite with readers who want to find the best-ever deals on books they’ve been wanting to read, and it’s in that spirit that we share the news of a brand new beta feature on our website: BookGorilla Author Pages!

Whether you arrive at one of these author pages from a link in your daily BookGorilla alert, as a result of a blog post like this one, a web search, or a tweet or other mention from an author whom you follow, we think you’ll find that BookGorilla Author Pages provide a great way to drill down on books by your favorite authors.

And since we know that our readers cover the waterfront from bestsellers to indie discoveries across all genres, we’re committed to building a totally inclusive array of BookGorilla Author Pages from favorite indie authors like Suzanne Jenkins to hybrid stars like Noel Hynd to top-tier bestsellers like Harper Lee, Lee Child, and Mary Higgins Clark.

As we grow from a hundred or so prototype pages to thousands and beyond over the coming weeks, we’ll also be introducing additional features like a follow or subscribe button for individual authors, title sorting by price, links to audiobook listings, and more … so please stay tuned!

–Steve Windwalker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Million Reasons Why That Other Service Can’t Show You the Deals You Find on BookGorilla

For many readers who have been keeping up with those daily siBB BG COMP 3-21-2015 PicMonkey Collagede-by-side comparisons that have shown BookGorilla to be far outpacing BookBub when it comes to recommending great book deals on bestselling books by well-known authors, there has been a pretty obvious question:

“Why doesn’t BookBub just work harder to find the kind of books that are featured by BookGorilla each day?”

The answer? It’s complicated, but it’s all about the bottom line. BookBub has nearly 10 million reasons to focus on books that it needs readers to buy, while BookGorilla’s more customer-centric mission is aimed at providing readers with books they already wanted at prices they never dreamed were possible.

We’re sure that BookBub would like to be able to present great deals on more prominent books, but they are constrained by a few obvious structural facts that are implicit in their business model:

  • For starters, BookBub depends on two major revenue streams, which together provide  revenues of over $26,000 daily, or about $9.7 annually, according to our estimates based on information provided on the company’s website. For instance, the 27 books recommended on BookBub’s deals page yesterday would have paid BookBub just over $16,000 for their placement on BookBub’s “curated” list,  and are likely to have brought the company an additional $10,000, at least, in affiliate fees such as Amazon Associates proceeds. “Curated” is as “curated” does, but that $16,000 daily would be a lot of money to leave on the table if BookBub were to make a strategic decision to add value for readers by opting to drop some of those 27 ad-supported spots in favor of more prominent, highly desired books at great deal prices such as those featured on the BookGorilla site.
  • Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 8.08.12 PM
    Screenshot of third-party banner ad in March 15, 2014 BookBub alert.

    But with that much money coming in, one might ask, wouldn’t BookBub still be profitable if it decided to improve the quality of its daily recommendations by doing just that: replacing some ad-supported spots with more widely known books by bestselling authors? Sure, but then BookBub would run into another difficult structural challenge: the company is increasingly in the position of having to answer to venture capitalists and other angel funders. Indeed, since its May 2014 announcement that it had raised $3.8 million in Series A funding, BookBub has ratcheted up its ad-supported offerings: from 15 to 20 daily spots in early 2014 to 25 to 30 now, with no concomitant increase in bestsellers or other well-known titles. Meanwhile, Bookbub has recently been experimenting with adding paid third-party advertising banners served by LiveIntent (see screenshot above at right ) to the millions of emails it sends out to self-identified book lovers each day. Naturally, the point at which a company accepts investor funding  is usually the point at which its autonomy with respect to its mission begins to come under pressure.

  • While BookBub founder Josh Schanker keeps the lowest of online profiles, it would not be surprising to see him exit with a payday in the high nine figures or beyond, given his history as a serial entrepreneur and BookBub’s impressive success to date. With such heady outcomes looming for Schanker and other key players, one can’t really expect BookBub to allow short-term revenues to soften in favor of a longer-term commitment to adding value for readers by changing the ratio between ad-supported spots and truly curated recommendations of the best books available at the best prices each day.

Not to worry. BookBub is doing just fine. But with its need to get readers to buy the books that it wants them to buy even if they’ve never heard of the title or the author before, it does present a real contrast in mission with our BookGorilla upstart.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you already know what that contrast in mission is all about. Although BookGorilla certainly continues to sell all the ad-supported spots it makes available, it remains true that fewer than 20% of all the books recommended by BookGorilla are ad-supported. That leaves us free to pick the best deals at the best prices each day, and to remain true to our mission, which is to provide readers with books they had already wanted to read at prices they never dreamed possible.

-Steve Windwalker

A few thoughts behind our recent comparisons of BookBub and BookGorilla daily book recommendations

Earlier this week we shared a picture that may have surprised some of our readers: a side-by-side comparison of Wednesday’s top ebook recommendations from our BookGorilla service and another popular service called BookBub. If you were looking for great deals on titles that most readers have heard of (which is certainly not the only worthwhile measuring stick), it was clear that you’d be far more likely to find them on BookGorilla than on BookBub.

If we say so ourselves. And we do.

Of course there are plenty of good reasons why avid readers may want to subscribe to both services — after all, both are totally free. And there are other ways in which BookBub has a clear edge, including:

  • If price-per-unit is your main consideration in acquiring books for your Kindle library, you may well want to go with BookBub. In today’s comparison, for example, BookBub’s top book recommendations were available for an average price of $1.45 in the Kindle store, while the average price for BookGorilla’s top recommendations was $1.91.
  • If you participate in a Kindle author fantasy league and you want to know which previously unknown book is most likely to vault from a sales ranking of 688,529 to the Top 100 Kindle bestsellers in the next 24 hours, BookBub’s also your best bet. It’s true that several books featured on BookGorilla make Amazon’s Movers and Shakers list each day, but they generally don’t have as far to go to make that list. And subject to check, BookBub has approximately a gazillion subscribers, many of whom still open each day’s BookBub alert. Numbers like that are sure to move just about any needle, no?
  • Finally, among authors and publishers for whom money is no object when it comes to their marketing budgets, BookBub’s a clear choice. You may spend as much as $1,975 for a single promotion on BookBub, but you’re likely to get a bigger bump than you will get for $40 to $200 with BookGorilla or similar amounts with other well-managed services such as eReader News Today.

We could probably go on, but of course we’re not here to do BookBub’s work; they are very effective on their own behalf.

And as we will try to explain in a new post this weekend, there are about 9.5 million great reasons why BookBub wants readers to focus on the books that it includes in its daily ebook alert, even if you’ve never heard of them before.

Happy Reading!

-Steve Windwalker

 

 

 

Are you getting the most out of your ebook recommendation service?

Different people want different things when it comes to ebooks….

Comparison 3-18-2015 PicMonkey CollageSo different readers may come to different conclusions after checking out this side-by-side comparison of the day’s Top Book Recommendations for Wednesday, March 18, 2015 from BookBub and BookGorilla.

Depending on what you’re looking for, we hope you’ll sign up for a FREE subscription to your choice today, if you haven’t done so already:

And while a picture can be worth a thousand words, it’s rarely as simple as a picture might suggest … so we’ll be back later this week to take a closer look at what’s really going on here.

Happy Reading!

-Steve Windwalker

 

Best Tablet Ever Under $100?
What’s Not to Love About the Brand New 2014 Fire HD 6″?

(This post by April Hamilton first appeared on the Kindle Fire on KND website, where April is editor-in-chief.)

It’s your friendly Editor April here. I’ve got one of the new, 2014 Fire HD6 tablets and have had the opportunity to test and compare it to my second-generation Kindle Fire HDX, so now I’m ready to share.

This will be a long and picture-filled post, but don’t be intimidated: the new Fire line has some improvements and changes, but it’s not a drastic departure from the previous generation. A lot of things look a little different and work a little different, and there are some new and improved features, that’s all.

Note that you can click or tap on images in this post to view an enlarged version in a new tab or window.

 

Device Management Options

Let’s begin here. When you go to Your Account > Manage Your Content and Devices, the available options are different for different Fire models. Here they are, in order from first-generation to my 2014 HD6, which is one of the brand new models.

 

First-Generation Kindle Fire Device Options Menu:

 

Second-Generation Kindle Fire Device Options Menu (note the addition of “Remote Alarm”, “Find My Device” and “Remote Factory Reset”:

“Remote Alarm” sounds a loud chime on your Fire to help you find it when you know it’s nearby, but can’t spot it.

“Find My Device” only works if you have Location Based Services enabled on the Settings menu of the Fire. Many people turn this option off due to privacy concerns or to save battery life. If you want to be able to use “Find My Device” on a second-gen Fire, you must turn Location Based Services on under Settings on the tablet.

 

2014 Kindle Fire Device Options Menu (note the addition of “Remote Lock”):

The “Find Your Tablet” option is the same as the “Find My Device” option on second-gen Fires. To enable this on a 2014 Fire, on the device, under Settings > Device Options, turn on the “Find Your Tablet” option. It’s set to “off” by default. It’s not clear to me if doing this also enables ALL Location Based Services, but since I’m not finding a separate menu item for that option it’s probably safest to assume the answer is “yes”.

The new Fire line adds one more item: “Remote Lock”. This is used to lock your Fire remotely, in the event it’s lost or stolen, or you know you’ve left it in a non-secure location and have privacy concerns.

Here’s the detail screen for the Remote Factory Reset option, which is available on both second-generation Fires and the 2014 models:

 

Below, you can see the new on-screen keyboard. Everything’s bigger and easier to read and use, but it works pretty much the same as in previous generation Fires. Note that little microphone icon to the right of the ?123 button at the lower left: yes, you can dictate your search terms (and emails, and text entries in online forms, etc. etc.) on the entry-level 2014 Fire. In the second generation, this was only available in the higher-end models. Just tap the microphone icon and start talking to enter your search term(s); the voice recognition software is surprisingly good.

 

Here, I’ve closed the keyboard to display my search results. The results screen has been redesigned to make it easier to distinguish between search results that indicate matching content you already own (My Stuff), matching content that’s available through Amazon Prime (if you’re a Prime subscriber), and matching content available for purchase.

 

Select Options

The pictures tell the story for the most part, but I’ve added some comments to point out specific differences or improvements.

On the various main menu screens (e.g., Home/Carousel, Books, Videos, etc.), you still long-tap to select items but you no longer get the same pop-up menu right on top of the selected item. Instead, there’s a “Selected” ribbon that appears at the top of the screen and from there you can select Home (with a + sign) to add the selected item to the Home/Carousel screen, Home (with a – sign) to remove the selected item from the current screen, or access the Add to Collections / Create a Collection menu items by tapping More. To cancel, use the ‘back’ icon (at the far left of the ribbon, indicated by a red arrow in the next screenshot, below this one).

Note that there is no longer an option to “Remove From Device” or “Remove From Cloud” here. To delete content from the tablet but keep it in your Cloud library, you will have to access the content on the main [content type] > Device screen (e.g., Books > Device, Apps > Device, Videos > Device, etc.), then long-tap as usual to bring up the “Remove from Device” menu option. It also appears that under the new 2014 Fires’ operating system, the only way to permanently delete content from your Cloud library is to access Your Account > Manage Your Content and Devices on the Amazon site.

 

Here you see that you can select multiple items from a given screen, which is new with the 2014 Fire line. Just long-tap to select each item, then use the Select ribbon to apply the same changes to all selected items. To exit without making any changes, use the ‘back’ icon, as indicated by the red arrow below Note that the “More” menu item, where the Collections options are located, isn’t shown because in this case I’ve selected two items that don’t use the Collections feature. I also tested it with a Kindle book and Kindle magazine selected, and in that case the More menu item did appear.

 

Books Menu and Screen Improvements

There are a number of improvements, but they’re subtle.

The first time you access the Books screen/tab, you’ll be prompted to enable Goodreads integration. If you already have a Goodreads account, just tap “Get Started” and your Fire will take care of the rest. If you’re wondering why no separate login is required, it’s because Amazon now owns Goodreads. Those who don’t already have a Goodreads account will be prompted to set one up and walked through the steps on-screen. Also note, the Cloud/Device selector for viewing the Kindle books you have stored in the Cloud or on the Device is only visible on the main Books screen; this is not a change, but you may not have noticed it in your older model Fire.

 

This screenshot shows the Goodreads integration menu that’s available from within your Kindle books after Goodreads integration has been set up. It basically makes it a lot easier to update your Goodreads shelves, ratings, reviews and so on, you no longer have to go to the Goodreads app or website to do those things.

 

Here you see the 2014 Fire’s Collections view for Books. Note that it still has the same List/Grid view options, but the pop-up selection menu for these options looks a little different than on a second-gen Fire. Also note the Goodreads icon in the top menu bar, at the far right. In this screenshot, I’d yet to set up Goodreads integration. After I did, that Goodreads banner at the top disappeared.

 

In this screen, I’ve drilled down from the main Collections screen shown above by selecting my own “Next Reads” Collection (a Collection I’d previously set up myself and had previously added Kindle books to). The Add and Close options are still there as before, but what I’d like to point out here is how much larger the book cover images are than on my second-generation HDX when I view a Collection. This is a HUGE improvement. See the next screen shot, below this one.

 

Below, you can see that when I open a given Collection on my second-gen Fire HDX, the pop-up selection menu is very small, and it’s difficult to read the individual book titles. Also, it’s not possible to enlarge the cover images just for the sake of deciding whether or not you want to download a given book; if you tap on any of the covers, the download immediately begins.

 

Below, you’re looking at my own “Immersion Reading” Collection of Audible audiobooks, which I had also previously created and populated myself, on the 2014 HD6. What I’d like to highlight here is the little Immersion Reading icon, indicated by the large yellow arrow. This icon appears in the upper right-hand corner of Audible audiobooks for which you have the matching Kindle book, to indicate you can use the Whispersync for Voice / Immersion Reading option for that audiobook. This new icon actually does away with the need for my custom-created Immersion Reading Collection, which I’d set up specifically to keep track of Audible titles for which I own (or intend to buy) the matching Kindle book.

 

Docs Options

Again, nothing Earth-shattering here but there are some differences compared to the second-gen Fire.

This screen shot shows the Docs sidebar menu open on the 2014 HD6. Note the “My Send-to-Kindle Docs” menu item; it displays a listing of the documents you’ve had sent to your Kindle using that feature. Send-to-Kindle is nothing new, but it’s being handled a little differently on the 2014 Fire menus and screens. There’s more information about Send-to-Kindle below, where I address the “Clip” menu item (looks like a globe, at the right, in the screenshot below).

 

Here’s what you get when you tap that Clip globe (again, this feature was also available on second-generation Fires): a prompt to use the Send-to-Kindle widget in your computer’s Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browser (sorry, it’s not compatible with Internet Explorer or Safari). If you tap the “Email me install links” button, the links to get the widget will be sent to your main email account on file with Amazon. Open that email on your regular computer, in either the Chrome or Firefox browser, and follow its directions to add the Send-to-Kindle widget to your browser. Once it’s there, you’ll have a handy Send-to-Kindle button right there in the browser and when you click it, the page/content you’re currently viewing will be sent to your Fire as a pdf file, and added to the Docs menu under “Cloud”. Send-to-Kindle has been available for a long time, but the new menus make it a little easier to use.

 

Here’s the new Add Docs selection screen, where you can bring docs down from the Cloud to your Fire. The feature and function haven’t changed, but they do look a little different; mostly, it’s just that the display is bigger. Remember, these screen shots came from the HD6, which only has a 6″ screen. Yet the larger icons and text make everything much more legible on the HD6 than on my second-generation HDX 8.9″. Compare to the same function on my second-generation HDX, below.

HD6DocsSelect

 

Here’s the same screen/function on my second-generation Fire HDX. So small!

 

Web / Silk Browser Options

There are two big improvements here.

Here’s the screen you see the first time you access the Silk web browser on the 2014 Fire:

HD6SilkIntro

 

Here’s what’s on that Options menu. Note the two new menu items, indicated by arrows. “Print Page” works amazingly well, so much more seamlessly than on my second-gen HDX. When I selected it as a test, the Fire immediately located my printer on my home wireless network. I tapped to select it and was presented with a typical Print menu, with Options to print all pages, print select pages, print in grayscale, etc. etc. I could never get the Print function to work on my HDX in all apps and functions; only certain apps and fuctions seemed able to “see” my printer. That Full Screen option is used to expand the web page you’re currently viewing all the way out to the borders of the screen.

HD6SilkMenu

 

Here’s the same Silk browser Options menu on my second-generation HDX. Everything’s smaller, and it doesn’t have the Print Page and Full Screen options.

HDXSilkMenu

 

Music Player / Photos

There are no significant differences to the Music screens and options, other than integration with Prime Music for Amazon Prime subscribers. If you’re a Prime subscriber, you’ll find handy links to Prime playlists and radio stations along with the usual links to your own music files on the device and in Amazon’s cloud.

In the Photos area, there are some new options for adding photos when you initially set up the Fire tablet. The first time you access the Photos screen/tab, you’ll see this setup screen:

HD6PhotosSetup

 

As you go through each of the setup screens, you’ll be prompted to link your phone, Facebook account, and other accounts to make photos you have stored on those devices/sites accessible on your Fire tablet. The link only makes them accessible, it does not automatically download everything to the device. But that’s an option that will be available to you after the device(s) and account(s) is/are linked.

 

Some Of These Changes Are Coming to Second-Gen Fires, Too

Amazon has announced an automatic software update is being rolled out to second-generation Fires to add some of the features and functions of the new line, but since I’ve yet to get the update on my second-gen HDX I can’t say which features and functions are included. After I get it, I’ll write a follow-up post.

 

Bottom Line: Worth the Buy?

Absolutely! I have no idea how Amazon managed to pack so much quality and functionality into the 2014 HD6 at a price point of just $99, but they did. I love my second-generation HDX 8.9″, but it can’t slip into a purse or bag as easily as the HD6. The HD6 is also a lot zippier in terms of processing power and response times.

Note that the first few times you use a new Fire tablet, the various content menus will take some time to populate. The larger your content libraries, the longer this process will take. But once your content is fully populated, viewing, downloading and using your content will be noticeably faster on the 2014 line.

In addition to the improvements and changes in software I’ve detailed above, there are some hardware changes. The screen display can now fill the entire display area, where in past models there was always a black border of unused space all around. The menu redesign helps to support this feature by eliminating that sidebar menu/options ribbon that frequently appears on prior generation Fires.

The volume and on/off buttons have been relocated to the sides of the tablet (instead of the back, where they are on my second-gen HDX), which makes it a lot harder to press them accidentally. It also makes it a lot easier to take a screen shot by pressing the power and volume down buttons simultaneously. This same feature is there on my second-generation HDX, but it was kind of hit-and-miss. If I didn’t press the buttons with the exact right level of pressure and at the exact same instant, the screenshot wouldn’t work. On the HD6, it never fails!

I would not hesitate to grab a 2014 Fire HD6 as a holiday gift for a tween, teen or adult. It’s an amazing value!

 

A $99 Kindle Fire HD Tablet Leads the Way As Amazon Unveils Dazzling Array of New Kindle Models, Services

Screen shot 2014-09-17 at 9.53.43 PM

By Steve Windwalker

Amazon announced an impressive array of new hardware and services at small-group briefings last week, but the big news is the company’s introduction of the all-new Kindle Fire 6 tablet at just $99 — with a price, features, and hardware that allows the company to call it “the most powerful tablet under $100.” All of these models are available for pre-order right now, and all will begin shipping in October.

But that wasn’t all. The Kindle briefings also rocked some major new offerings in the all-important Kindle ecosystem for kids, in new eInk ereader hardware and software, in high-end Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 enhancements, and in family- or household-friendly features for most kinds of Amazon digital content across the full array of Kindle and Kindle-compatible devices:

  • Amazon announced a new-generation of eInk Kindles, including its “thinnest, most advanced Kindle ever” — a Paperwhite model that is now called the Kindle Voyage — at $199 and, in a continuation of its strategy of offering highly affordable entry devices, a new $79 basic Kindle with a touchscreen interface (for the first time) and a 20% faster processor and twice the storage of its $69 predecessor.
  • For children, Amazon is now offering what amounts to a dedicated kids’ Kindle that includes, for $149, a Kindle Fire 6, a molded rubber kid-friendly case, over 5,000 books, movies, TV shows, games and educational apps via a free one-year subscription to Free Time Unlimited as well as a quad-core processor, a vivid HD display, fron- and rear-facing cameras, Dolby Digital audio, and “an unprecedented 2-year worry-free guarantee.”
  • At the higher end, Amazon has held its $379 price for a new-model Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 featuring a quad core 2.5 GHz processor, a 70% faster graphics engine, 339 ppi display, exclusive new Dolby Atmos audio and a brand-new Fire OS 4 “Sangria” operating system that “adds hundreds of new features and platform enhancements, incluidng Firefly, ASAP, Smart Suspend, and other Amazon-exclusive features.

We had a chance to test drive all of these models today and it’s a strong array that should help Amazon continue its dominance in the ereader and ebook markets while gradually carving out a larger slice of the tablet market. As impressive as the new hardware is, a lot of what Amazon rolled out today involved nice, incremental enhancements in ease of use and performance that will make a more gradual, but very positive impression on customers. Among these are free unlimited storage for photos taken on Fire devices, a Smart Suspend power-saving system, “ASAP” for time-saving predictive streaming, and a new “Family Library” feature that allows family members to easily share apps, games, audiobooks, ebooks, and Prime Instant Video content, even if they use different Amazon accounts.

We’ll have more to share about all of this in the coming weeks and months, but we wanted to give an idea of what we all have to look forward to.

Amazon Announces the Biggest Game-Changer Yet in the eBook World:

READ FOR FREE with Kindle Unlimited

 

By Steve Windwalker
 
Amazon has done it again, and as usual, the winners are readers.

This morning the company launched Kindle Unlimited, which after a very nice 30-day free trial will allow readers unlimited reading or listening from among over 639,000 Kindle Books and over 2,000 Audible.com audiobooks. The service will cost $9.99 a month after the free trial, and one easy way to understand what’s being offered is that it’s like “Netflix for ebooks.”

While we expect the catalog of books, author and publishers participating in Kindle Unlimited to blow past the million-title mark this year and continue to expand, the selection even at launch is pretty dazzling. This morning we selected seven titles to include in our daily BookGorilla email alert, just to give our readers a taste of the kind of top-tier, A-list bestsellers that are available absolutely FREE during the free trial:

  • The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins
  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century By Thomas Piketty
  • War Brides By Helen Bryan
  • Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt By Michael Lewis
  • That Summer Night (Callaways #6) By Barbara Freethy
  • Everything Is Illuminated: A Novel By Jonathan Safran Foer
  • The Best Medicine (A Bell Harbor Novel) By Tracy Brogan

Winners and Losers

We’ll be watching closely to see what new titles become available, but based on what we see already it seems likely that Kindle Unlimited will be as big a disruptive force for “business as usual” in the publishing world as the Kindle itself has been. We will no doubt continue to see misguided analyses claiming that Amazon will be competing with this, that and the other existing service, but any such “competition” will likely be akin to the centuries-old competition between the hammer and the nail: usually, one doesn’t even get to hear the nail say “ouch.” Nobody is in a position to compete with Amazon on this terrain.

Amazon seems committed to a pretty generous royalty structure for enrolled titles, which we think will ultimately amount to about $2 a copy for authors who participate in its KDP Select program. Given recent negotiations — and the Hachette stalemate — between Amazon and some large publishers, we wouldn’t hazard a guess as to what share those publishers and their associated authors might receive, but publishers who stay on the sidelines may find themselves in an untenable position — both with their authors and with their own corporate bean-counters — as the Kindle Unlimited catalog grows.

For people who read a lot, Kindle Unlimited is going to be awesome. We won’t talk ourselves blue in the face trying to persuade you beyond noting that the seven very popular titles listed above would currently cost you $66.15 in the Kindle Store without Kindle Unlimited. After all, we think all of us will make better use of our time looking for great books to download FREE.

It’s probably silly of us to take any pleasure in having predicted this program almost exactly six years ago on pages 90-91 of the paperback edition of The Complete User’s Guide to the Amazing Amazon Kindle, and we didn’t get it exactly right, anyway. We called it Kindle Buffet, said it would be a Kindle reading subscription plan “on steroids,” and we were way off on how such an offering would be priced: we said it could cost as much as $50 a month. My, how things have changed!

Start your free 30-day trial today here.

Here’s the guts of Amazon’s press release from earlier today:

Introducing Kindle Unlimited: Unlimited Reading and Listening on Any Device–Just $9.99 a Month

Date(s): 18-Jul-2014 7:30 AM

Read freely from over 600,000 books–available on Kindle devices, as well as free Kindle reading apps for iOS, Android and more

Listen to thousands of audiobooks from Audible, or switch easily between reading and listening with Whispersync for Voice

Enjoy best sellers including the Harry Potter series, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hunger Games trilogy, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, and Flash Boys

The most cost-effective way to enjoy audiobooks such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Life of Pi, and Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Start a free 30-day trial today

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jul. 18, 2014— (NASDAQ:AMZN)–Amazon.com today introduced Kindle Unlimited–a new subscription service which allows customers to freely read as much as they want from over 600,000 Kindle books, and listen as much as they want to thousands of Audible audiobooks, all for only $9.99 a month. Finding a great book is easy, and there are never any due dates–just look for the Kindle Unlimited logo on eligible titles and click “Read for Free.” Customers can choose from best sellers like The Hunger Games, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and The Lord of the Rings, and with thousands of professionally narrated audiobooks from Audible, like The Handmaid’s Tale and Water for Elephants, the story can continue in the car or on the go. Kindle Unlimited subscribers also get the additional benefit of a complimentary three-month Audible membership, with access to the full selection of Audible titles. Kindle Unlimited is available starting today and is accessible from Kindle devices or with Amazon’s free Kindle reading apps. Start your free 30-day trial today here.

“With Kindle Unlimited, you won’t have to think twice before you try a new author or genre–you can just start reading and listening,” said Russ Grandinetti, Senior Vice President, Kindle. “In addition to offering over 600,000 eBooks, Kindle Unlimited is also by far the most cost-effective way to enjoy audiobooks and eBooks together. With thousands of Whispersync for Voice-enabled audiobooks to choose from, you can easily switch between reading and listening to a book, allowing the story to continue even when your eyes are busy. We hope you take advantage of the 30-day free trial and try it for yourself.”

Kindle Unlimited features include:

  • Unlimited reading: Access over 600,000 books including best sellers like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, Water for Elephants, Oh Myyy! – There Goes The Internet, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, All the King’s Men, Wonder Boys, Ask for It, The Princess Bride, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, The Atlantis Gene, Kitchen Confidential, The Sisterhood, Crazy Little Thing, The Blind Side, and The Giver, plus thousands of classics such as Animal Farm, To the Lighthouse, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Cat’s Cradle, and The Good Earth, as well as books featuring beloved children’s characters from Sesame Street, and useful reference titles including books from the For Dummies series and Lonely Planet travel guides.
  • Unlimited listening: Keep the story going with unlimited access to more than 2,000 audiobooks from Audible with Whispersync for Voice, and switch seamlessly between reading and listening to customer favorites like the Hunger Games trilogy, Life of Pi, The Handmaid’s Tale, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, The Great Santini, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Winter’s Tale, Boardwalk Empire, El Narco, Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies, Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog, The Finisher, Johnny Carson, The Stranger I Married, and Life Code.
  • Kindle exclusives: Choose from hundreds of thousands of books only found on Kindle, including Brilliance by Marcus Sakey, The Hangman’s Daughter series by Oliver Pötzsch, War Brides by Helen Bryan, Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct and Matthew Hope books, When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde, Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath, Chasing Shadows by CJ Lyons, and Sick by Brett Battles.
  • Short Reads: For a quick escape, select from thousands of books that are 100 pages or less, including Kindle Singles from Stephen King, Andy Borowitz, and Nelson DeMille, and short fiction from Amazon Publishing’s StoryFront imprint.
  • Free three-month Audible membership: In addition to the thousands of professionally narrated audiobooks from Audible included in Kindle Unlimited, subscribers get a complimentary three-month Audible membership, with access to more than 150,000 titles.
  • Popular Kindle features: Enjoy all the great Kindle features customers love such as Whispersync, Popular Highlights, X-Ray, customer reviews, and Goodreads integration.
  • Read and listen everywhere: Access across Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps for iPhone, iPad, Android tablets and phones, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, PC, Mac and Windows 8–so you always have your library with you and never lose your place.