Various Kindle Owners feeling left out, Free Book

First, the free kindle book -

  1. The Truth About Getting the Best from People by Martha I. Finney. Rated 5 stars on 4 reviews.

    “A fun and easy-to-read blueprint on understanding and creating engagement within a team. No high falootin’ business jargon here–Martha Finney tells it like it is. She helps supervisors and managers uncover the secrets of employee engagement through behavioral examples, successes at top companies, and her charming storytelling.”

    Kirsten Clark, Senior Director, Organizational Capability Group, Starwood Hotels and Resorts

Also interesting is author Patricia Ryan’s foray into self-publishing with some of her backlist including RITA Winner Silken Threads which is rated 4.5 stars on 18 reviews (found via TeleRead). It would have made more sense for her to price a few books at $1 to build up an audience though $2.99 isn’t too bad.

In this RITA-winning medieval romance inspired by Hitchcock’s Rear Window, a soldier heals from a broken leg in the London home of a young widow who steals his heart—but his future rests on an arranged marriage to his lord’s daughter. Originally published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc.

Won Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award for Best Long Historical Romance. Made the Ingrams A-List of Top 50 Requested Titles for four weeks.

It’ll be interesting to see if she makes any headway with $2.99.

Kindle 1 and non-US Kindle 2 and Kindle 3 Owners feeling left out

There are a lot of different complaints bubbling up and they all center around basically the same issue so let’s take a look -

  1. Some Kindle 1 owners who were upset about not getting Folders are getting more upset about not getting the free word puzzle games.
  2. Some Kindle 2 and future Kindle 3 owners are getting upset the games aren’t available outside the US.
  3. Some Kindle owners outside the US have complaints about certain books and certain free book offers not being available in their home country.

Let’s look at each of these issues in turn.

Kindle 1 owners who feel left out of the Kindle Apps joy

First, you see the same issue with other devices – phones, video game consoles, etc. Older generations generally don’t get new features or new apps – it’s a fact of life if you own electronic gadgets. 

Let me assure you that very few app developers are going to build for Kindle 1. Already, getting the Kindle 3 with its WiFi and its number keys missing is a headache (though WiFi is a bonus too). Very few people would make the extra effort to make apps compatible with Kindle 1.

So you’d have token Kindle 1 apps that didn’t really work. Which would be FAR more frustrating than the other option i.e. spend $139 and get a Kindle WiFi if you find the apps that come out are great (which, by the way, is not a given).

Here’s what happens if we add Kindle 1 to the app store -

  1. Developers have to rethink their applications for the Kindle 1 strip – it’s a completely different way to move around. 
  2. They have to buy the device. This is not a small impediment. Already there’s Kindle 2, Kindle DX, Kindle DX 2, and Kindle 3. Remember you need to get them for the developer, the tester, and probably for other members on the team.
  3. An extra cycle of testing and fixing issues. In some cases that means the difference between releasing 3 apps and 2 apps. No developer is going to cut down on the number of apps he releases just to support Kindle 1 owners. 
  4. Developers have to fix all the issues specific to a device that is 2.5 years old. No one wants to release a half-baked product and Kindle 1 support would add a ton of work.
  5. Developing Kindle Apps suddenly looks more scary. There are a ridiculous number of issues to figure out for Kindle 1 – speed, graphics, page turn speed, the controller, the button arrangements. Testing introduces a whole new can of worms.  

You have to make a hard decision on whether you want an App Store or you want to reduce the chances of getting apps by asking developers to develop for a device that is almost completely different. In terms of books there might not be as much of a difference – However, things are pretty different for apps because the Kindle 1 navigation strip is a completely different design philosophy. 

If you coerce people to make apps compatible for Kindle 1 a lot of them are going to drop out or just flout the directive.  

Amazon probably made a very hard choice – It would rather have an App Store that works for everything other than Kindle 1 than have an App Store that tries to support Kindle 1 and doesn’t materialize.

You probably don’t want to hear this but it isn’t that you’re being singled out by choice. For most developers there’s just too much work to add-on support for Kindle 1. Even if Amazon added Kindle 1 to the App Store most developers wouldn’t have the resources to make their apps Kindle 1 compatible.   

If you find a lot of apps you like when the App Store opens (don’t know when that will be, you might not find any apps you like) consider getting a $139 Kindle WiFi.

Kindle owners outside the US

It’s neither your nor Amazon’s fault in lots of cases where you assume it is -

  1. Why are certain books not available to you? Territorial rights. It’s taken Amazon years to add international ebooks – it’s probably just as frustrated about it as you are and cursing it doesn’t help at all.
  2. Why are most free book offers not available to you? Publishers make the offers country specific. Amazon can’t exactly force them to make the books free.
  3. Why are prices higher? Because there are higher delivery charges. Perhaps there’s more here and Amazon can cut down prices.
  4. Why don’t you get the two free kindle apps? Perhaps because it’s a test. Perhaps because of bandwidth costs.
  5. Why don’t you get free Internet browsing? Probably because of bandwidth charges.

Is it frustrating? Yes.

However, at least Amazon is catering to Kindle owners outside the US. Some eReader companies don’t even have ebooks for outside the US.

It’s a very glass half-full or glass half-empty sort of question and you really should consider the things Amazon has added – there are hundreds of thousands of books for most countries, there are some WhisperNet features, Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi are being shipped worldwide, and there’s support for CJK fonts and Cyrillic fonts.

The bitter truth is you are never going to get the same features as the US because US Kindle owners took big risks – they were paying $399 when countries like UK wouldn’t even buy eReaders. If you were part of the most lucrative market you’d get features first too. If your market was the one taking big risks then you’d have products introduced first.

It’s a business – the customers taking the biggest risks get rewarded. The biggest markets get products first.

The Kindle WiFi is down to $139 and it’s available in 150 countries with lots of international features (like font support). The price and the availability is proof that Amazon isn’t neglecting you. We just have to temper what we’d like with the reality of the market we’re part of.

11 Responses

  1. I am us based but had no problems getting the free books and games this week in Israel.

  2. I’m a kindle owner from Spain, and have to recognize I feel a bit frustrated by the second class treatment we internationals receive (though I know it’s not entirely Amazon’s fault).

    I sincerely hope that those infamous “bandwidth charges” will disappear when the new Kindle Wifi arrives.

  3. Jeesh – sometimes I think people just like to complain!

    I am in the UK and the way I see it is that wow Amazon have such a huge selection (the best selection by far) of ebooks and I’ll never get to read even a fraction of them.

    Shame the word games are not available but hey I’m sure there will be some for us in due course.

    I wish people would stop moaning about what they’re not getting and be grateful for what they actually do have.

    I currently have over 35 free ebooks downloaded from Amazon and that is about 6 months of reading for me sorted. Having a Kindle is actually working out a whole lot cheaper than reading physical books. There are simply so many good freebies including old classics I am re-discovering.

  4. You’re right. Copyright is already hard to comply with, even in one country; make it right in all countries must be incredibly hard.

    However, international users are taking risks too, buying a device which is not well suited for their local market. Even so, I think Amazon is offering a great product for international users who read enough English books.

    But international users (I’m from México) should let know Amazon that we want all the kindle features. Otherwise, Amazon could not bother even in thinking about it.

    I’m expecting many things to change for International users with WiFi. For example, all the free ebooks announced on lot of blogs are not free for Latin American users, they are priced a $1.99. I think it is because of the 3G carrier is charging Amazon for the delivery. But now, if your delivery is through WiFi, this charge could disappear.

    Another thing we want is more ebooks in our languages. Amazon, please contact publishers to get agreements with them before someone else do it. In México, Gandhi, the biggest book store is already selling ebooks through Adobe Digital Editions and Sony readers, which is awful for me. It would be great to have a Gandhi-Amazon agreement.

  5. Focusing on the issues with developing apps for the Kindle 1 misses the larger issue that the K1 has been totally left behind by Amazon with regard to updates and new features. Specifically, where is a K1 collection implementation or native K1 PDF support, both of which were added to the K2?

    Personally, I don’t care about apps on the K1 and I’m not really sure I’ll care about them on the K3 I hope to buy later this year.

  6. As a K1 owner, I’m not at all upset about the lack of games or most of the software upgrades for the K2. I doubt that the K1 could handle most of those and they are not required for basic e-reader purposes.

    I continue to hope, though, that Amazon will provide some sort of organizational capacity for the K1, even if on a more rudimentary level than for the K2. I’d settle for being able to separate out personal/reference docs, “read,” and “unread.” The K1 can handle at least basic organization (e.g., periodicals), and I think that the need for organization is inherent in any device advertised as holding 100s of books.

  7. I own a K2, not a K1, so I’m not as left out of the cold as they are.

    However, I am already suffering from K3 envy. I was hoping that the K3 would be more of an incremental improvement, and one that I could ignore until the (hypothetical) K4. Instead, I may end up doing what one of my co-workers did with his K1 when the K2 came out; he gave his old Kindle to his daughter.

    Right now my daughter has stolen my K2 to read WWW: Wake by Robert Sawyer and most of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. (She couldn’t wait to finish it, so she read the last of it on her netbook — she prefers the Kindle for reading.)

    If my K3 envy gets bad enough, my daughter may end up with my K2. And I’ll get the latest bells and whistles.

    • yeah, it’s crazy how they surprised us with the Kindle 3. No one was expecting something with so many upgrades. I’ll put up some videos once I get my hands on it to help push you into buying one – might not be till August end.

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