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Here’s Your Live Link to an Archived Copy of the Latest Edition (April 27) of Kindle Nation’s Free Weekly Email Newsletter & Digest of Kindle Nation Daily Posts

Greetings from Kindle Nation!

I’m hoping that this finds you, like it finds me, in finest fettle.

I try for a balance each week between tips, news, free book alerts, and analysis of what’s going on in the Kindlesphere. I never totally nail that balance, but this issue feels to me like a good mix, and I hope that you agree!

Here’s a link to this week’s issue: http://bit.ly/WeeklyKindleNation-4-27-2010

Contents include:

Amazon Touts Free Mother’s Day Shipping for Kindle in a Release That Invites Comparison with the iPad
Kindle Nation Daily Free Book Alert: “Wounded Healer” and “Scent,” and Dozens More!
RIP Alan Sillitoe – A Favorite of Mine, And a Litmus Test for the Backlist Reach of eBooks
From the Kindle Nation Mailbag: Legacies (eBook, Literary, and Political), eBook Architecture, and Free Book Alerts
Amazon Allows Kindle Owners to Set a Charge Limit for Transmission of Personal Documents
A Tip for Kindle Owners with Access to an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch: Thousands of Free, High-Qality Audiobooks
Amazon Poised for Earnings Report, and Why It Matters to Kindle Customers
Summing Up the Last Week, and the Last 2 1/2 Years, for Amazon: Phases I, II, and III of the Kindlle Revolution Are Over, and Amazon Has Won All Three
About That Kindle Revolution: A Few Nuggets from Amazon’s April 22 Conference Call on Quarterly Earnings
Around the Global Kindlesphere: Paulo Coelho Kindle eBooks Available in Spanish & French Worldwide
Categories Uncategorized Tags

Amazon Touts Free Mother’s Day Shipping for Kindle in a Release That Invites Comparison with the (iPad)

Amazon’s pulling out all the stops to maintain brisk Kindle sales in the second quarter. In addition to the usual prominent presence all over Amazon’s main website, the company has collaborated with Target to make the Kindle available in over 100 South Florida Target outlets with more to come, it’s spending significant dollars on TV ads like the one I saw during Letterman last night, and today we received a news release offering free two-day shipping on the $259 Kindle and the $489 Kindle DX until Mother’s Day.

I’m not sure how newsworthy the Mother’s Day offer is, given that we’ve seen similar offers around earlier holidays, but I did check and was a little surprised to find that there wasn’t a similar pre-Mother’s Day news release in either 2008 or 2009.

I was also interested to see some significant differences in the way Amazon chose to describe the Kindle in today’s release, as compared with the description in an otherwise fairly similar holiday news release just four months ago. In the release last December 22, the Kindle was marketed with this paragraph:

“It’s easy to get busy during the holidays, so we’ve decided to make it easy even for procrastinators to order Kindle, the #1 most wished for gift on Amazon, and get it delivered for free and in time for Christmas,” said Ian Freed, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. “With Kindle, you can give the gift of choosing over 390,000 books and more than 100 top newspapers and magazines from around the world and begin reading in less than 60 seconds.”

In today’s release, it appears we are being prompted to compare the Kindle specifically with a certain relatively new electronic device that goes, and here will go, unnamed: 

“Every year it seems like a challenge to find that perfect gift for Mom,” said Jay Marine, director, Amazon Kindle. “We wanted to make it easier for customers to give Mom the gift they know she’ll love. Kindle is the #1 most gifted product on Amazon and available for free two-day shipping. Kindle weighs just 10.2 ounces, has a crisp electronic ink display that makes it easy to read whether she’s indoors or in bright sunlight, and comes with free 3G wireless access to a massive selection of over 500,000 books.”  [Emphasis added]

I’m also struck by the significance of the fact that today’s release continues to tout the Kindle’s #1 status in the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks of Amazon’s base of 114 million active customers by referring to the Kindle in the present tense as “Amazon’s most gifted, most wished for, and #1 bestselling product”. As a publicly traded company that must comply with clear mandates regarding the veracity of any material statements made by its representatives, Amazon is in no position to fudge the truth on such matters. It is hugely significant that even after the launch of that unnamed new electronic device, Amazon is still — this quarter, this month, this week, and presumably today — selling more units of the Kindle than of, for instance, the latest bestseller by Charlaine  Harris, Michael Lewis, or Stieg Larsson.

Here’s the guts of today’s release:

Give Mom the Gift of Reading This Mother’s Day with Free Two-Day Shipping on Kindle

Kindle, Amazon’s #1 Gift, comes with access to over 500,000 books and free 3G wireless access

SEATTLE, Apr 27, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) –Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced a Free Two-Day Shipping offer for Kindle, Amazon’s most gifted, most wished for, and #1 bestselling product, just in time for Mother’s Day. Customers who want to share their love of reading with Mom on this special day can order Kindle or Kindle DX anytime before May 6 and receive two-day shipping within the continental United States for delivery on or before May 8, compliments of Amazon. Kindle is available today for $259 and free shipping at www.amazon.com/kindle.

“Every year it seems like a challenge to find that perfect gift for Mom,” said Jay Marine, director, Amazon Kindle. “We wanted to make it easier for customers to give Mom the gift they know she’ll love. Kindle is the #1 most gifted product on Amazon and available for free two-day shipping. Kindle weighs just 10.2 ounces, has a crisp electronic ink display that makes it easy to read whether she’s indoors or in bright sunlight, and comes with free 3G wireless access to a massive selection of over 500,000 books.”

The Kindle Store is the perfect place to find some of Mom’s favorites, such as “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson and “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, both available for $9.99. The Kindle Store includes over 500,000 books and the largest selection of the most popular books people want to read, including New York Times Bestsellersand New Releases from $9.99. Over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books are also available to read on Kindle, including classics such as “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” “Pride and Prejudice” and “Treasure Island.”
Thousands of Kindle customers have sent us feedback emails about Kindle, and in the spirit of Mother’s Day here are some examples from moms who love their Kindle:

  • “I spent months agonizing over whether or not to get the Kindle.As a mother of three, spending [money] on oneself is a rarity. Finally, I got one.I am not a “techno” person and was afraid it would be complicated, a hassle or problem prone.I have had mine since December and I love it!The free Whispernet, the amazing selection and the screen clarity are just wonderful.Thank you for this invention!” -Judith
  • “I just got the Kindle for my birthday and so far I LOVE it.I find it super easy to use, and I am very impressed.I asked for the Kindle because I thought maybe if I could find something easy to fit in my purse, I could read whenever I had a few minutes.With 3 kids under the age of 9, I have to spend my time very wisely.This has proved to be VERY convenient and takes up way less space in my purse (This way I have more room for diapers and wipes!).” -Lisa
  • “I LOVE IT!!When I first heard about the kindle I thought I wouldn’t ever want one because I love books and enjoy collecting them…My grown kids gave it to me for Christmas and I heard my daughter say to a friend the other day, ‘Every time I call Mom now on the phone she says she has to get off the phone because she’s reading her Kindle’!” -Darlene

About That Kindle Revolution: A Few Nuggets from Amazon’s April 22 Conference Call

By Stephen Windwalker, Editor of Kindle Nation Daily

As a follow-up to my post yesterday about Amazon’s earnings report and the company’s progress in advancing the Kindle Revolution, I thought it would be helpful to post some brief excerpts from last Thursday’s Amazon earnings conference call. I am using the transcript provided by Seeking Alpha, which is available here if you’d like to see the full transcript:

In order to abide by Seeking Alpha’s 400-word maximum on such excerpts, I’ll pare this down to a few quotations from Amazon senior vice-president and chief financial officer Tom Szkutak, specifically about the Kindle:

  • “[I]n terms of marketing itself you saw that it increased a little bit as a percentage of revenue year-over-year and we are doing advertising for Kindle, it’s certainly a product and an area that we are very excited about. You probably seen some of the ads that we are doing….”
  • “We are excited about the idea that the world may shift to a place where 3G connected devices are available to browse [the] net and our view is that the more of web connected devices whether [they] be tablets or smartphones, the better that is for our retail business … and we will figure out the best way to make sure that we [make it] as easy as possible for customers to purchase from those devices but we think that that’s an exciting opportunity to have a world that looks like that.”
  • Spencer Wang of  Credit Suisse asked an interesting Kindle question: “A question on e-books. I guess, as you and the industry move more towards the agency model for digital books, it shifts the ability to set pricing to publishers. I guess our understanding is you also have to charge sales tax, also. So it would seem that your ability to leverage low price maybe mitigated a little bit. So I was wondering if you could just talk about how you would adjust your model to differentiate Amazon versus some of the other players in the context of the other two pillars, I guess, convenience and selection that you are focused on?” Szkutak answered: “One of the things that we’re doing is we are expanding selection, pre-dramatically. When we launched two plus years ago, with Kindle we had approximately 90,000 titles. Just recently we passed over 500,000 titles and so our vision is, as we stated when we launched Kindles to have every book ever published in any language available for customers in under 60 seconds and that’s still our stated long-term goal and so we’re going to continue to add selection in support of that vision.”

A few other nuggets from the call, not specifically about the Kindle, that struck me as significant:

  • Amazon now has 114 million active customer accounts, which more than doubles that metric for the point when the Kindle was launched in the fourth quarter of 2007.
  • Although it is reasonable to think that the Kindle is just beginning to penetrate the international ebook market, given the fact that the Kindle is still nearly an English-only platform and only began shipping outside the US in late 2009, it is nonetheless stunning to note the extent to which Amazon itself, the mother ship, has matured into a truly international company. $3.35 billion of Amazon’s $7.13 billion in first-quarter revenues came from outside the US. It would be silly to think that Amazon does not have plans to give the Kindle an equally impressive global footprint, or that such plans would not be based on an integrated business plan involving expansion of catalog, foreign language support, and in-country retail and wireless carrier support.
  • Regarding Kindle demand during the quarter, Szkutak did give one cryptic but significant answer that suggested that the rate of growth for Kindle sales compared with the year-ago first quarter of 2009 was greater than the 2009 fourth-quarter rate of growth for Kindles sales over the year-ago fourth-quarter of 2008. Although Szkutak wouldn’t translate any of this into actual units or dollars, the fact that Kindle unit sales experienced such an upbeat first quarter (within a calendar-year model) is especially significant given that we might reasonably have expected the January announcement of the iPad and the subsequent opening of iPad pre-orders to have at least a chilling effect on Kindle hardware sales. I’ve seen where some observers have tried to extrapolate a slowdown in Kindle sales from “data points” such as a slowdown in Kindle hardware orders placed via their own Amazon Associate links, but this just seems a little silly: unless those “sales” were in the hundreds, the sample size is just too small to be a basis for such assessments.

Summing Up the Last Week for Amazon: Phases I, II, and III of the Kindle Revolution Are Over, and Amazon Has Won All Three

By Stephen Windwalker, Editor of Kindle Nation Daily

Every few months we get a particularly strong dose of doom and gloom from a large number of the market and media pundits who follow Amazon and the Kindle, and another negative wave seems to have been cresting in the past several days.

It may have begun with Amazon’s corporate earnings release last Thursday, when the company announced first quarter earnings of $394 million ($0.66 per share, equalling consensus expectations) on revenues of $7.13 billion that outstripped street expectations as well as Amazon’s own guidance. In that earnings report and the subsequent conference call, Amazon offered what some have called “soft” guidance concerning its own projections for the second quarter: Amazon is estimating earnings of $220 million to $320 million for the second quarter, on revenues of $6.1 to $6.7 billion. That kind of earnings growth of only 39% to 102% over the year-ago quarter, could certainly explain the doom and gloom, yes?

Well, not really. The amusing thing is that the movement of Amazon’s stock over the last few trading days is pretty much a mirror of what often happens to the company’s share price around the time of its quarterly earnings reports:

  • As I posted on Thursday morning (April 22, 2010), Amazon opened that day trading around $147, within a whisker of its all-time high. 
  • Over the course of that day’s trading session, high expectations for the future of Amazon and the Kindle caused the AMZN share price to blow through its all-time high as well as the “psychological barrier” and “short-covering stop loss price” of $150. It closed that day, seconds before the release of the earnings report, at a new all-time high of $150.09.
  • In typical Wall Street “buy the rumor, sell the news” fashion, after-hours and Friday traders responded to the earnings report by selling off shares to lock in profits from the fact that the company’s stock has roughly doubled over the past year. Although Friday’s closing price was down from Thursday’s closing price, the fact is that during the Friday daytime session the stock actually made back about half of what it had lost in the lower-volume after-ours session Thursday evening.

But Wall Street analysts take the long view, right? They take a collective memory that extends back about five hours and apply it to the “news” of the last 15 minutes, and then try to construct a narrative that explains things.

Explain things indeed.

So what we get over the weekend is a spate of items like these:

My, my.

Let’s take that last one first. It is stunning news that the Nook outsold the Kindle in March, after a November-December Nook roll-out that was the second coming of the Ford Edsel. Only one problem: it didn’t happen. The report on which these Nook-beats-Kindle stories are based is a report from PVI, the Taiwan-based company that provides e-ink displays for both devices. PVI said that it had shipped more manufacturing units of the Nook than of the Kindle to the U.S. in March. Well, that would be necessary if Barnes & Noble were going to finally begin providing ample Nook inventory in the thousands of retail outlets where it has the capacity to sell the Nook. Given the fact that Barnes & Noble has just completed what sounds like a promising Nook feature upgrade, that inventory boost is significant and, not to be a cynic here, but the company could even have primed the numbers and the media pump a bit with the PVI story in order to cash in on some of that Kindle-Killer Koverage. It won’t suprise me at all if there are more ebooks sold by the Barnes & Noble eReader store and app this year than by Apple’s iBooks store (you can’t sell what you don’t stock), or if Amazon moves quickly to make the Kindle ePub-compatible so that it can read ebooks sold by B&N and others. But let’s not confuse inventory with sales. Sales put cash in a company’s pockets, inventory draws cash down.

Then there are the share prices. Even the mainstream coverage of Amazon’s earnings report and subsequent trading was all about how the markets were underwhelmed by Amazon’s performance, causing a huge selloff. It’s just that none of them mentioned that the stock was actually up for the week, and certainly we can’t expect any of them to still be sticking around today to explain why the stock has climbed back above $147 to exactly where it was when I posted on Thursday morning.

Perhaps that share price will get to $90 by going to $175 first?

One thing that is true about Amazon is that, while it has been known to hype a product or two, it tends to play its hand in very understated ways with regard to its quarterly need to provide guidance about future earnings, so the result is often that the company either has to revise its guidance upward or to simply release numbers, at the appropriate time, that blow the doors off market expectations. With serious new competition and some difficult retail pricing issues to resolve, it is perfectly plausible for Amazon to project second-quarter earnings that could be only 60 to 80 percent of its first-quarter earnings.

But when all is said and done, don’t be surprised if Amazon finds it necessary to revise those estimates upward sometime in mid-June, or announce in late July that it drew down earnings by significant amounts to make some serious capital investments in feverish expansion of its already impressive device ubiquity,  in the worldwide expansion of Kindle Nation, er, the population of those who read Kindle content, and in a growing and language-diverse catalog that may, by the end of this year, put even Google’s to shame.

I know of smart people who listened to Amazon’s earnings conference call and concluded that Amazon’s executives did not say anything new or interesting about the Kindle. I suppose you could see it that way, but I’ve been listening to Amazon conference calls for a decade and I heard some very telling statements and shifts of emphasis that suggested, to me, a company that is very confident about several things:

  • There are major advances coming soon in explosive growth of the Kindle catalog, including a wider and wider portal for authors to march through either directly or under the auspices of companies like Open Road and RosettaBooks.
  • The stunning success of the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, combined with the poverty of the iBooks catalog, will drive continued explosive growth in the number of people who navigate to Amazon’s website to buy Kindle books, other books, and just about every other street-legal product imaginable.
  • Phases I, II, and III of the Kindle Revolution are over, and Amazon and the Kindle have won each phase. The goal of Phase I was to move ebook reading from an off-the-radar activity to something that a significant percentage of the world population wants to do. Check. The goals of Phase II were to make the Kindle store and reading environment dominant so as to position Amazon as a kind of market maker in all ebook matters, and Amazon has succeeded beyond its own wildest dreams with more than a 60% share of ebook device sales and a market share of ebook content that reached somewhere between 80 and 95 percent by late last year.  Check. The goals of Phase III were to achieve sufficient success and buzz to lure other bigfoot players to the tablet and ebook reader device market — even those who might have opined not so long ago that “nobody reads any more” — so that they would take up some of Amazon’s burden with respect to device manufacturing, inventory, and sales, and leave Amazon, even while it continues to ship a few million Kindle devices each year, to focus on making sure that all of its competitors’ devices would be Kindle-compatible to allow Amazon to market its world-leading ebook catalog to, in time, everyone in the world. Check.

What’s next? Let me go back to my tulip texts, and I’ll report back here as soon as I have something.

From the Kindle Nation Mailbag: Legacies (eBook, Literary, and Political), eBook Architecture, and Free Book Alerts

Thanks to Kindle Nation citizen Kenno for  his thoughtful comment on my RIP Alan Sillitoe post from last night. I commented back with some of this, but here I will take it a step further:

Your comment: “I didn’t much like the turns that Sillitoe’s personal politics took after his success as a novelist, but that never kept me from seeing his fiction as, in a number of ways, heroic and inspirational.”

I would have liked for you to have fleshed this one out a little. I did a small amount of research and saw that he identified with the poor working class and was in favor of the Iraq War, when few authors were. What did you mean?

Here’s another minor thought that may have no merit at all, but your daily long lists of freebies for the Kindle may be overdone. After acquiring “must have” classics, I may not have a life left long enough to read all that’s already on my Kindle. But please don’t stop listing them, since I acquired the freebie last week “90 Minutes in Heaven”, which was a very worthwhile read. I’m just hinting that more of your own thoughts would also be interesting.


Thanks for the comment, Kenno, but I’ll demure from further engagement on Sillitoe’s politics (other than to say that my relatively mild distaste was based more on Sillitoe’s Tory affinities of the 60s and 70s rather than of the past couple of decades): while I occasionally feel the need for a brief self-tagging, I would never want Kindle Nation Daily to become a political blog, or even a politics-of-the-literati blog. (Believe me, it’s not so much that I’m naturally reticent about politics and culture but that the opposite is true, so that I know enough not to allow myself to get started!)

Your point regarding KND Free Book Alerts is certainly taken, but here’s my thinking:

  1. Given the fact that there are thousands of new Kindle readers every day (via Kindles themselves or the many other Kindle-compatible devices), it’s important for me to continue organize content not only for those who have been here in the Kindlesphere for a year or more but also for the newly Kindelized.
  2. I always try to list the newest freebie listings first, so that those who like yourself are familiar with my patterns can easily ignore the balance of the post or, for that matter, the entire post.
  3. I appreciate the invitation to share more of my own thoughts about the books that I post, and I do believe that I have worthwhile things to say from time to time, but I’m also a great believer in the wisdom of crowds, and I know that most Kindle owners are pretty capable, once they reach the product page for a Kindle book on Amazon’s website, of gleaning a great deal from the combination of editorial and marketing content, categories and keywords, and Amazon customer reviews. (By the way, my belief that the Amazon and Kindle Store browse-search-sort-buy architecture amounts to book- and information-browsing Nirvana for most visitors is central to my belief that the Kindle environment is likely to continue to dominate ebook content market share compared with what may well be much cooler hardware, with perfectly fine reading environments, attached to “Chart Toppers” shopping environments that are about as inviting and search-the-long-tail-friendly as the CD department at Target or Best Buy.)
  4. Finally, let me push back a bit on what may have been a throwaway line from your comment: the notion that you “may not have a life left long enough to read all that’s already on” your Kindle. First, of course, there’s the fact that any and all of may well have a lot more time left than might be indicated by an actuarial table, and isn’t it great to know we’ll be able to keep reading on our Kindles throughout those many years? Second, from the converse assessment that we Kindle owners by and large are not a bunch of 12-year-olds, I encourage you — and all of us frankly — to think about our Kindles as an important part of our estates. Even if we do not finish reading everything on our Kindles at the time of our earthly departure, some child or grandchild or local library ought to be pleased to have us pass on our Kindle content when we pass on.

(Now all that Amazon needs to do is to establish a straightforward, easily understandable set of policies and practices that ease and streamline such bequests, including an enhancement of the Kindle environment to allow it to read EPUB-formatted books and documents.  Between the value of a Kindle and its owner’s lifetime ebook library, we could often be talking about value in the low four figures or more.

Is there an app for that?)

RIP Alan Sillitoe – A Favorite of Mine, and a Litmus Test for the Backlist Reach of eBooks

The novelist and shorter fiction writer Alan Sillitoe died today at London’s Charing Cross Hospital. His dazzlingly spare 1959 barely-a-novella The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and its triumphant 1962 film adaptation (Sillitoe screenplay, Tony Richardson direction, Tom Courtenay in the title role) wrestled existential rage and emotional identity out of the stark realities of post-war working class life and changed my life, among many, many others, in ways that made it both harder and better.

The BBC’s obit and the Wikipedia entry are well worth a read. I didn’t much like the turns that Sillitoe’s personal politics took after his success as a novelist, but that never kept me from seeing his fiction as, in a number of ways, heroic and inspirational.

When J.D. Salinger died a while back some of us lamented not only his passing but the sad fact that his books are not yet available in the Kindle Store or otherwise as ebooks. That gaping hole is obvious, I should think.

But Sillitoe? His work remains well worth reading today, and in the way I see things, his inclusion in the Kindle catalog, when it occurs, will be a fair litmus test for the coming-of-age of that catalog on the way to its promise to do justice to backlist titles and, in the long run, live up to Amazon’s recently restated mission to make it possible for readers to download every book ever written in any language within 60 seconds. We’re a long way from that point today, and it will not come to pass without the active efforts of publishers and authors as well as ebook retailers. Keep on.

Kindle Nation Daily Free Book Alert for Sunday, April 25: "Wounded Healer" and "Scent," and Dozens More

Here are the latest free listings in the Kindle Store as of Sunday morning, April 25 – two religious fiction offerings:

Wounded Healer by Donna Fleisher 

4.6 out of 5 stars (8 customer reviews)
Scent by Clint L. Kelly (Author)

3.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews)
by Sandra Felton
4.5 out of 5 stars (8 customer reviews)
by Leslie Parrott
Saving Sailor: A Novel