Amazon sets indie marketing on Fire

Amazon sets indie marketing on Fire

“We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this breaking news!”

On March 28, Amazon released an update for the Kindle Fire…and included an incredible new marketing tool for authors.

While I was writing my detailed post on the update, I tried out their new Sharing feature.

It’s a simple idea…like Twitter. ;)

You are reading a book. You click a little word balloon icon…and you are suddenly in a live stream of people commenting about the book! Right there, in the book itself!

I was testing it using The Hunger Games, and I was immediately sucked into answering questions for people: “Why are there Hunger Games?” “Why are they called Careers?”

I was identified by name, and the interface was simple.

This was the first day of the update…a lot of people don’t even have it yet, and it was still fast and…not furious, but friendly.

The latter may change as time goes by, but I had to tear myself away to keep writing my analysis. :) That’s part of my being an educator, though…I find it hard not to answer questions when I can. :)

How is this marketing?

You can jump into the sharing in your own book.

That’s really going to impress readers.

While appearing unexpectedly is nice, here’s a marketing idea:

Announce a time you’ll “be in your book”.

Say, two PM Pacific on Saturday, and give a date.

It will be like being at a convention or a book signing…without traveling at all!

As far as I could tell, there was no moderation, so you can say what you want. There may be “bots” that stop obscenities, but I’m not even sure about that.

At this point, I think you’ll need a Kindle Fire to participate, but it might be worth the investment (or borrowing a friend’s, but then it might not show your name).

You can also publish notes you make about your books, but that’s another story.

This seems like a new way to connect with your readers…and I think it may end up being very popular.

I want to thank D.D. for letting me “jump the line” to get this out right away. I think it may be important that authors get their own words into their bookstreams up at the top. You could even just welcome readers to your book (and mention other titles, I’m sure). That window of being first is going to close pretty quickly on popular books…the update is rolling out, and people haven’t all found this yet.

Bufo Calvin is the author of the popular I Love My Kindle blog and six titles in the Kindle store, including the #1 bestseller Love Your Kindle Fire: The ILMK Guide to Amazon’s Entertablet. Bufo is proud to be a part of the WG2E family.

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  1. Wow! What an amazing way to bring readers and readers, and readers and writers together! Thanks for the heads up, Bufo.

    • Bufo Calvin says:

      Thanks, Donna!

      I checked earlier, and no one was commenting on my most popular book yet, but I think that will happen. The Hunger Games has been very active, not surprisingly. My comments from twelve hours earlier could still be seen by scrolling back.

      My guess? This could become a crucial element in establishing solid reader/author relationships…and may become expected from certain markets.

  2. Gregory Lynn says:

    Holy crap!

    This idea is fantastically awesome.

    This adds a whole new dimension to the concept of a read along.

    I now have a reason to get a Kindle Fire.

    I hope there is some kind of notification so you can be sitting at the beach, shopping for groceries, or doing the dishes, hear the tone, and pop into your book to respond to a comment.

    How awesome would that be?

    And can you imagine, if you’re a kid, and you fall in love with a book and you go in and comment on something and the writer responds a few minutes later? That kid’s a fan for life.

    Can you, as an author, run contests in this? Could you, for example, ask trivia questions and get e-mail addresses to send out copies of the next book in a series early?

    • Bufo Calvin says:

      At this point, there is no notification, but there could be enhancements in the future if this really takes off. For now, that’s why I was suggesting having an appointment with your readers so they know when to expect a reply.

      I wrote to a favorite author (actual paper) years ago and got a response…you are right, that’s never faded. This is a similar idea, but easier. :)

      I haven’t seen a limitation to what you can say yet, but there may be something. I’m not sure what they would do if you posted an ad: I would guess they may be able to delete messages, but they certainly seemed to be posted without any moderation (appearing in seconds). As I mentioned,there might be bots for profanity…maybe.

  3. This is truly a fantastic idea, and I am so glad that you shared it with all of us! Thanks for the awesomeness of your devotion to Kindle.

    • Bufo Calvin says:

      Thanks, Patrice!

      It’s fascinating stuff. I’ve gone back to The Hunger Games to check the bookstream. I was interested to see posters identifying themselves as in fourth and fifth grade…younger than I would have thought.

  4. I can see how this could work for some, but count me out. I can’t think of anything worse for me as a reader or as an author than actively being involved in dialogue with other people WHILE reading. It skews the whole meaning of reading for me–which is a chance for personal reflection and a quiet but working mind.

    This makes me a little sad, actually.

    Sheesh. I sound like a real downer, don’t I? I love everything about ebooks, and I love you all and love this blog so much, but I don’t know if I can get my (very old) head around this one.

    • Bufo Calvin says:

      Diana, as you say, it would be different for different people.

      For example, I wouldn’t do this with a novel I haven’t read…but might love discussing a book with people after I’ve read it.

      Nonfiction is another place where I might use it. I might appreciate the insight of other readers on a particularly complex concept.

      I think there may be some generational tendencies. “New Millenials” (born since 1980) are far more social in some ways than, for example, the “Greatest Generation”. They discuss everything with their friends. I can see the excitement of finishing reading for the night, jumping on there, and saying, “I’m loving this book!” I wouldn’t do that, but I can see the appeal.

      I’m curious about what would make you sad about it. It’s entirely optional, of course. Other people doing it wouldn’t affect how you (and others like you) prefer to read. I suspect it will encourage reading, critical thinking about what one reads, and social interaction. That tends to make me happy. :)

      Just my thoughts on it, though…

      • Bufo Calvin, we share everything because we don’t do things like dinner parties and weekend sporting events with our peers ;) LOL

        No, I think honestly you have to look at the education system most of us grew up in. To my parents, the entire concept of “group work” was cheating. You know how many times I had to work in a damn group and carry a bunch of slackers’ grades? TOO MANY TIMES. Even in college, had to write a “group paper” which is utter baloney if you ask me.

        Anyway, it wasn’t cell phones that made us social, it was all the group time from the day we started Kindergarten. Even the stupid Buddy System came about around that time… (yes, I remember a time when you could just wander as a kid, as if you were home before the streetlights came on, you didn’t get a spanking or grounding.). The I look at my younger sisters and sister-in-laws and even my preteen son. It’s even worse. These kids have no sense of individual achievement, everything is team this and team that.

        On one hand, my generation is far more likely to give greater weight to a casual acquaintance, and our close friends are usually in the low single digits. There’s hope for us… promise. :)

        • Bufo Calvin says:

          Oh, I think there’s hope for everybody. :)

          I always figure anybody who is still alive has something to me…and I can teach myself something from the people who aren’t. ;)

          As to the wandering…yes, my Significant Other and I have talked about that. When I was a kid (let’s say eight-years old), I remember I would follow the old train tracks into town and walk around and “shop” by myself. I’d go into a pet store and buy cheap books like “Enjoy Your Squirrel”, or that kind of thing…I seem to recall them being thirty-nine cents. :) I also liked a place called “Harold’s Basket Shop”…I was intrigued by the plastic vegetables.

          On the other hand, my kid wasn’t alone in the front yard until probably a teenager.

          Different times…

      • “I think there may be some generational tendencies.”


        What makes me sad is that I see how my kids “read” their school books. They don’t pause to think. They don’t absorb the whole. Instead, they jump on the Internet to check out the CliffNotes or whatever. It’s practically a tick with them. That *is* how to read. They have no desire (or reward) to expend effort forming their own thoughts on a text.

        The social aspects of reading are huge; I get that.

        I just hope that the non-social aspects aren’t destroyed. This old lady still thinks quiet, solitary reading is more important for our culture, our minds, and maybe even in the long run, our careers as writers. I hope you’re right and I’m wrong and both models can co-exist, but I see what happens in my house and I’m pessimistic.

        • LOL. SOOOO TRUE. My stepson, love him to death, has to read for 25 minutes a night. It’s assigned. Any book he wants, but 25 minutes a night. We enforce it. He’s in 6th grade.

          He will be reading a book, look up, gush to me how great it is, or how funny. Then he glances at the clock and will say “Oh!” and put his book mark in and close it. I say “Vincent, if you’re enjoying the book, you can keep reading.”
          He looks at me like I have 3 heads. “But I only have to read for 25 minutes.”
          Me: “I know, but if you’re enjoying the book, keep reading and enjoying it!”
          Still, I have 3 heads. “But I only HAVE to read for 25 minutes.”

          I give up. And yes, this child was read to a great deal, but his mother doesn’t read for fun. My youngest already hands me my Nook or Kindle (Mommy’s book) and brings one of her own to sit next to me and “read” the pictures (she’s almost 3). For kids like my oldest, the chance to chat with friends AS you’re reading will be a godsend. And in a classroom setting, I could see discussion groups going…

  5. David Slegg says:

    What an awsome idea!

    Think of the possibilities.

    • Bufo Calvin says:

      David, I think when Amazon figures out a way for us to limit this to “circles” we define, the sky’s the limit. What a great way to teach a book to a class, for example.

  6. Dang it!!!!!!!!!! I had JUST talked myself out of buying a Kindle Fire… LOL. I did notice on my cheapie cheap Kindle (The ad supported model, I wanted the low down on the most economical way my books would be read for both Kindle and Nook) that last week sometime they started advertising ways to SHARE the book I just read on social media and it encouraged me to write a review. Pretty snazzy.

    I’m also noticing that MOST of my Kindle books are opening to page 1 of chapter 1 automagically (ok not, the software can read the Table of Contents file with ease) making the back end of the book possibly better real estate for letters to readers etc. Alternatively, I suppose authors could format their book to make the title information Chapter 1, but that might piss off readers…

    • Bufo Calvin says:

      Thanks for writing, Elizabeth!

      We are Kindle…you will be assimilated. ;)

      Yes, all of that sort of material should go in the back now, in my opinion. If not, people don’t get a representative sample…and that can make a big difference.

  7. Bu-wa-ha-haaaaa! This HAD to happen! Web 2.0–and beyond–in higher ed, and how to use the tools to teach composition using the “student-centered, collaborative learning models” are my forte. I’m thrilled with this and can’t wait to try it out and–OMG!–to be “assimilated.” At times, I feel kinda like a flea hoppin’ the hyper galaxy, but . . . hey, any way to learn–and especially–to read and (one day) interact with readers, feels like delicious feeding territory to me.

    • Bufo Calvin says:

      Absolutely, Mary! The concept of interconnectedness has been there, and tweeting about books has surely been around…but this implementation works for me. Yes, it could do more, but there is very little friction to the process, and you want that.

      It takes an awful lot of work to stop fleas from succeeding… ;)

  8. I guess I’ve got to get a Kindle Fire.

    • Bufo Calvin says:

      Richard, my guess is that there will be something like three more Android tablets (they may or may not be called “Fires”) from Amazon this year. I think they’d keep the same model, have a more fully-featured one the same size (7 inch), and probably two more larger ones (again, a cheaper entry level one and a more expensive, more fully featured one).

      That doesn’t mean you need to wait. :) I’ve always said, “If you are waiting for the perfect car, you’ll still be riding a horse.” :)

  9. D.D. Scott says:

    I’m just totally gaga over this new development, Bufo, and thanks sooo very much for getting it to us here at The WG2E!

    You are always sooo “on it”, my friend!!!

    And yep, I’m now buying myself a Kindle Fire, along with the one for our March RG2E Ereader Giveaway Winner!!! (which, btw, y’all still have two days to enter to win)

    I currently use the Kindle 3rd Generation with 3G/Wi-Fi (keyboard too), but must get a Fire now too!!! I had been waiting for the new Fire because I wanted the 3G capability (and hopefully Color E-Ink too) but may have to dive into it earlier now…

    • Bufo Calvin says:

      Thanks, D.D.!

      I do like my Fire, but I am looking forward to future developments. :)

      I’m going to dig into this a bit more…I would think you could use a friend’s to see what people are saying about your books.

      Wow! I was curious, so I checked Bookscootin’…there are a couple of shares, but they are from some months ago. My guess is that public notes appear here as well.

  10. Julie Day says:

    This sounds like such a good idea, esp for readers and authors to connect. I don’t think a Fire is out here yet, so have a wait to go for this to happen here in the UK.

    • Bufo Calvin says:

      Julie, you are correct. At this point, the Fire is only for sale to the USA.

      It’s a complicated thing to export, since a lot of its value is tied up in rights purchases (such as streaming video), and that’s typically for a single market. My guess is that you’ll get it this year, maybe this summer. I’m just guessing, though.

  11. This sounds great! Thanks for the scoop, Bufo. I hope one day they will add the capability to define circles, as you’ve suggested. Can you imagine the book club applicability? That would be soooooo cool.

    I had decided to invest in a Nook Tablet this year because I want to be able to quality check my books on the Nook platform without having to borrow one…but now I’m wondering if I should get a Fire instead. Which is exactly what Amazon had hoped, I’m guessing…

    • Bufo Calvin says:

      Vickie, I think Amazon would be happy if you bought a Fire ;) , but the “authors buying books to twead” market can’t be that big. :)

      The “nook platform” is a couple of distinct devices, so you’d really need the nook Simple Touch and a nook tablet to test.

  12. Bufo, I noticed in the last day or so I’ve gotten email notifications from that I’ve been “friended” by various people. Any idea what that means? Did that result from my jumping into the stream by “sharing” in my book?

  13. Jill Mora says:

    Holy Guacamole!

    That is GREAT! Thanks so much, for sharing Bufo!

    I noticed that there was an update on the Fire and I updated, but I had NO idea what they changed. I love chatting with authors on Facebook, but to be in the book it’s self. . .

    The Fire is really a lot of fun, if you don’t have one, it’s well worth the money. I love to flip my fingers through the book carousel and admire all the pretty covers. I have well over 3,000 books now. Ok, it’s official. . . my name is Jill Mora and I’m an ebook hoarder! : )

    Can’t wait to check out the update!

    Thanks again Bufo!