What are new Kindle owners going to do on Christmas?

The Kindle has probably been a very popular gift this year. Amazon has talked about selling ‘millions of Kindles’, and analysts are speculating that Amazon might have sold 8 million Kindles in 2010.

All of that adds up to – Perhaps a million or more people getting Kindles for Christmas.

What are all those new Kindle owners going to do?

Speculating on what new Kindle Owners will do

Here are the things they are likely to do, based on what new Kindle owners have done in the past -

  1. Look for Kindle books they can get without paying money i.e. public domain books, offers, and such. 
  2. Look for Kindle versions of books they have wanted to buy.
  3. Download and buy way more books than they’ll be able to read in the coming weeks.
  4. Read a book or two.
  5. Go through the Kindle bestseller lists, and grab things they find interesting.
  6. Spend more on books than they realize.
  7. Get stuck and ask for help, or search the Internet for help.
  8. Call up customer service.
  9. Subscribe to a newspaper or two.
  10. A smaller portion will subscribe to a blog.
  11. Some will buy games, and will also download the free Kindle games that are available.
  12. Quite a few will search for forums and blogs and sites that they can join and use.
  13. They’ll be looking for tools – ways to add features they want (custom screensavers), and tools to convert PDF to Kindle format.
  14. Kindle WiFi owners will be struggling with WiFi issues.
  15. New Kindle owners will be looking for Kindle Tips and Tricks.
  16. Quite a few will be searching for PDF related tips.

That probably covers at least half of what they’ll be doing. The interesting thing is, they’ll be doing this in a very random, disjointed manner. Plus they’ll be lost quite often – Where do they go for books? Where do they go to find out Kindle tips? How do they get text to speech working?

It makes you wonder – What could be done to create a better first-use experience for Kindle owners?

What could be done to make it a smoother ride for new Kindle owners?

Well, that’s a hard question to answer.

There’s something to be said for discovering things on your own. There are also a lot of benefits to starting off with a blank slate – no books, no subscriptions, nothing except the Kindle and a link to the Kindle Store.

But is that really what most Kindle owners want?

Perhaps what we need is a Starter Button.

Kindle Owners start off with the ‘Starter’ button. And a page that says -

If you would like to figure out everything on your own – Do nothing. This button will disappear in 15 seconds.

If, on the other hand, you’d like a starter pack, and a walk-through experience, click on the big black button.

Users who pressed the Starter Button would look on as a progress bar started off, and the Kindle unpacked a whole treasure trove of goodies for them.

Kindle Starter Pack – Start new Kindle owners off on the right foot

The Starter Pack could include -

  1. The top 500 public domain books. Also, links to every single public domain book available in the Kindle Store – arranged by author and genre.
  2. 200 books from best-selling authors who want to create a fan base – For no charge.
  3. Links to book deals in the Kindle Store – arranged by Genre.
  4. A list of the best Kindle links. The sites, blogs, forums, and tools that Kindle owners could and should use
  5. A document on the Top 100 Kindle Tips and Tricks. Not a whole book – just short snippets.
  6. The 5 Apps that Amazon currently gives away for no charge.
  7. A default set of folders. With a nice folder structure.
  8. Links to all the public domain books at Gutenberg and Internet Archive – arranged by author, genre, year. It’d just be a listing of links in categories.

Call it the Kindle Starter Pack. It provides all the information a new Kindle owner needs, to confidently step into Kindle World.

All of this would be included with the Kindle. Press the Starter Button, and the Kindle Starter Pack is unwrapped and installed. Don’t press the button, and it’s deleted so you have all the Kindle’s free space for yourself.

What else could we do for new Kindle Owners?

Let’s start with Kindle Help. We need a help option that integrates with Kindle Help Pages, Kindle Forums, Help Sites, Customer Service, and Kindle owners who volunteer to help.

Provide better Kindle Help

The new Kindle Help could include -

  1. A full video guide, video walkthroughs, and videos with answers for the most common questions. Accessible from the PC and Mac, and from devices that can support video.
  2. The option to contact customer service and current Kindle owners for help – right from the Kindle itself.
  3. Paid Coaching/Help from companies providing help as a service. This would be in case you can’t get an answer from current owners and customer service. It would also cover special things like setting up tools and services for you.
  4. All the Kindle Help Pages at Amazon re-formatted to be accessible from the Kindle.
  5. Kindle forums reworked to be accessible from the Kindle.

You move as much of help as possible, to services that are Kindle-accessible. The browser, the phone, and the PC should be the fallback option – not the primary one.

Connect Kindle owners with other Kindle owners

There are lots of things that Kindle owners can help each other with -

  1. Tips and tricks.
  2. Offers and deals.
  3. Book recommendations.
  4. Lending when it becomes available.
  5. Basic Help.

Instead of ‘social’ features like tweeting what book you’re reading, it makes a lot more sense to let new Kindle owners connect with other new Kindle owners, and with current Kindle owners.

Let Kindle Owners easily find books suited to them

Create a tool for new Kindle owners that helps them find books they’d love to read.

Kindle owners click on ‘Kindle Book Recommendations Tool’ in the Kindle Menu. They get a Kindle Book Recommendation Wizard which has a few pages -

  1. A page where they choose whether or not to include information from their Amazon purchases.
  2. A page where they choose whether or not to include information from their book reviews.
  3. A page where they can enter favorite genres.
  4. A page where they can enter favorite authors.
  5. A page where they can, optionally, list all their favorite books.
  6. A page where they can, if they so choose, list books they didn’t like.
  7. A page where they can assign weight to each of the preceding items.

Then the Kindle Book Recommendation Wizard sends all this information to the Cloud, a server in the Cloud figures out the best 100 paid books, and the best 100 public domain books, based on the information the user has entered, and the Cloud delivers these book recommendations to the user’s Kindle.

Amazon has the opportunity to greatly improve the Kindle first-use experience

When a new Kindle owner gets a Kindle, there’s a ‘what’s next’ moment.

Currently, there’s just a Kindle Guide, and a link to the Kindle Store. It’s probably why so many new Kindle owners turn to their PCs, and to the search engines. For a device whose tagline includes ‘No Computer Required’, it’s time to add features that make it a smooth ride for new Kindle owners – Kindle Starter Pack, extensive Kindle Help through the Kindle itself, Kindle to Kindle social network (perhaps with a mentor), Kindle Book Recommendation Wizard.

The Kindle has the capacity to gently transition Kindle owners into the Kindle ownership experience. It’d be a good thing if Amazon took advantage of it.

10 Responses

  1. I’d love to see Amazong adopt these ideas!

    Thanks for the time you take with all this and Merry Christmas!!

  2. Merry Christmas to all, particularly lucky new members oh the kindle family!

    I graduated from a k2 to the “latest gen” last month. I’m liking the dark gray frame, won’t show fingerprints as easily as trusty k1.

    Now with the “folder” capability I’m looking for automation of sorting almost 500 titles into genres – anybody out there have a way to do this using Manage Your Kindle (amazononline list of all titles purchased) – I (duplex to save a tree) printed the list – yes I KNOW I don’t have to move all the archived titles right now. Just trying to think ahead.
    Current Collections: paranormal; fantasy; reference; games; and newest “Riyria Revelations” is all 5 of Michael J Sullivan’s series.

  3. “7. A default set of folders. With a nice folder structure.”

    Even better, several sets of folders for the user to choose from.

    “1. A full video guide, video walkthroughs, and videos with answers for the most common questions.”

    Here’s a suggestion along those lines that I sent Amazon, and may have posted here as a comment:

    Video-Enhance Your User’s Guide

    If you created an online User’s Guide that contained numerous short snippets of “clickable” supplementary video & audio it would:

    1. Entice more users to actually “Read The ______ Manual” by virtue of its visual entertainment value and lower effort-investment. (The user need only click on a video snippet and then lean back and absorb.) Video snippets would also make the Guide more attractive as a refresher-and-reference to experienced users.

    2. Communicate its points more effectively, because many people are “visual learners.” See, for instance, “Clive Thompson on the Power of Visual Thinking” in the October issue of Wired, p. 66, here:

    http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/09/st_thompson_visual/

    See also “Film School at Last Year’s TED” in the January Wired.

    3. Serve as a sales tool, by allowing prospective buyers to observe the Kindle in operation.

    By “numerous” I mean two to four video snippets per page; by “short” I mean from five to 15 seconds; and by “supplementary” I mean a voiceover repeating the text of the Guide in conjunction with shots of the Kindle screen and keyboard being operated by a user’s finger. The “clickable” item would be an image of the Kindle screen from the video snippet, similar to an embedded YouTube link.

    The original, unenhanced manual could be retained for users who preferred it. It would be more compact, FWIW.

    Here are examples showing how text from the first page of Ch. 2 (p. 45) of your User’s Guide could be video-enhanced:

    “To display the Home screen, press the Home button on your Kindle.”

    (A finger presses the Home button and the Home screen pops up.)

    “By default, the Home screen lists all of the items that you have on your Kindle beginning with the most recently viewed (or acquired) items.”

    (The finger in the video points to the item at the top, then swipes down over all the rest,)

    “Each type of content has a slightly different description and label.”

    (The finger points to different descriptions and labels.)

    ……………………………..
    A pilot project would be cheap, because an experiment would require only the creation of material for a few pages of the manual. The video camera could be set up on a tripod and the photographer could also function as the enactor, speaking the text and moving his finger over the screen and keyboard.

    The cost of creating such supplementary material would be small. No professional production values would be needed, just someone with a good-sounding speaking voice and the ability to move his/her finger in conjunction with the text he’s reading.

    If successful with the Kindle User Guide, Amazon could go on to create similar user-clickable video-enhanced instructional material on topics like navigating the Amazon site and using its advanced features, such as Lists, List-creation, Author-related discussion groups, etc. The applicability and usefulness of video-enhanced instruction is endless.

  4. Wish I had had access to the “Kindle Starter Pack”!! I’m not one of those people who like to explore & play around on something new. I like to have specific directions to help me learn.

    I still don’t know how to set up folders–which I would really love to do on my Kindle 2.

    But I’m not complaining . . . I absolutely LOVE my Kindle 2. I received it for Christmas last year and it was my absolute best gift! :-)

    I learn from this site everyday. Merry Christmas everyone!

  5. “The Starter Pack could include –
    1. The top 500 public domain books. Also, links to every single public domain book available in the Kindle Store – arranged by author and genre.”

    Suicidal. It would be like the Book-of-the-Month club offering a free, post-paid lending library.

    • Perhaps. But – what’s best for customers?

      • Sure it’s best in the short run. But in many earlier threads you’ve properly bemoaned the long-term downside of short-run maximization, and the destruction of the e-book ecosystem that “free” and “open” would / could cause.

      • It’s all going to go to free anyways.

        Not sure what’s better – to fight it, or to embrace it.

  6. The starter pack is an awesome idea! Hadn’t thought about working on the initial experience, but a great idea! Goes right along with their excellent customer service! And would truly set them apart from the others.

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