Kindle Contrasts, free kindle book, Kindle Gift Suggestions

The free kindle book -

  1. Strength for Service to God and Country by Norman E. Nygaard and Evan Hunberger. Price: $0. Genre: Religious, Christian. Rated 5 stars on 4 reviews.

    Strength for Service was originally published in 1942, and over 720,000 copies were distributed to U.S. service men and women. After the events of September 11, 2001 the General Commission on United Methodist Men partnered with Evan Hunsberger, who had a vision to republish the little devotional book as his Eagle Scout service project to honor his grandfather.

    Eugene Hunsberger, a Navy corpsman, read it to dying men on the battlefields of the Pacific during World War II. This updated version includes 40 additional entries, with over one million copies purchased by and distributed to deserving service members.

Next, let’s take a look at the main topics being discussed at the Kindle forum and at the UK Kindle forum.

What are Kindle owners in the US and UK interested in?

At the official Kindle forum which gets all US Kindle owners and lots of international Kindle owners the discussions in the last 24 hours revolve around -

  1. Free Books. Lots and lots of posts.
  2. Book recommendations. It’s shocking how many people ask for book recommendations. There’s a huge opportunity for a Kindle recommendation engine.
  3. How do I do X with the Kindle? Can I do Y with my Kindle?
  4. Authors promoting their books.  
  5. Authors trying to pretend they are not promoting their books.
  6. How to avoid 3G and use only WiFi?
  7. Two new Kindle TV ads. One of which is better and far less contrived than the FaceTime emotion overload ads.
  8. Readers asking for indie author recommendations.
  9. Top 10 Kindle irritations.
  10. When is Kindle Color arriving?
  11. Anne Rice’s Witching Hour available for pre-order.
  12. Kindle 3 letters rubbing off.
  13. Please Click on this book to get Publishers to release a Kindle edition.
  14. Questions about when Book X will be released.
  15. International Kindle owners asking how they can get US prices or US ebooks or US something.  

Meanwhile at the UK Kindle forum the main topics of interest are -

  1. Free Books 
  2. Kindle book prices.
  3. Kindle book deals. Lots and lots of threads on deals.  
  4. When is Kindle DX releasing in UK?
  5. Should I buy a Kindle?
  6. PDFs. 
  7. Kindle accessibility for blind readers.
  8. Ian McEwan books removed.
  9. Download charges 
  10. ePub support?
  11. When will it be in color?
  12. Various Kindle complaints like defective buttons.

These are in decreasing order of popularity.

The Kindle Grandma-Grandson Ad

It’s interesting to contrast this ad with the FaceTime ads.

They’re similar in a few ways -

  1. Highlight strong family emotions.  
  2. Highlight a particularly strong bond that many Kindle owners and potential Kindle owners will be able to associate with.  
  3. Are emotional and not logical.

They’re also very different in some ways -

  1. Apple over-does the emotional aspect i.e. picks a super emotional situation and forces FaceTime into it. Grandfather not being present for his grandkid’s birth. Wife telling husband she’s pregnant over the phone. Neither is very likely.
  2. In stark contrast, Amazon shows a grandmother who’s asking her grandson what he’d like and she’s spending a ton of time around him. In the mean time she already has bought a Kindle for him and is wrapping it up and keeping it a secret. That’s much more realistic and you have to love a grandmother who spends time with her grandkid – rather than a grandfather who misses his grandson’s birth.
  3. Apple super-emotionalizes the key moment. Actors who specialize in overacting and such. Amazon under-emphasizes it and loses the opportunity to really strike a chord. The grandkid could at least kiss his grandma thanks or give her a hug. End it right there – the obvious delight at getting the perfect present.

In many ways it’s like George Carlin versus a slapstick comedian. Except in this case George Carlin sets it up perfectly and then doesn’t deliver the killer punchline.

What’s missing is the delight when you get a present just right – We all know the feeling and we’ve all felt it. That was what was missing – There’s no way you can get a kid who loves reading books a Kindle and not get a much stronger reaction than shown in the Kindle ad.

Still, it’s a very, very good try by Amazon and a good use of its marketing budget.

It’d be remiss to not mention the strong, underlying current in both Amazon ads – people giving their loved ones a Kindle. It’s amusing to see advertisers make two videos that do nothing except put it into people’s heads that they should be buying their grandkids and their wives Kindles.

You could throw away everything and just put ‘Buy Your Grandson a Kindle – He’ll love it!’ and ‘Buy your wife a Kindle – She’ll love it!’. That’s what the ads effectively are. However, it’s much more subtle and much more effective to wrap it up in some shiny happy people video. They’re both very well done though – and they’ll definitely fill the ‘What should I get her for Christmas?’ void currently occupying a lot of husbands’ heads.

Amazon’s Kindle advertising is becoming more and more Apple-like – thankfully, it’s still not at the Reality Distortion Field level. It does suggest that Amazon feels it has wrapped up most of the people who read books regularly (people who are mostly unaffected by advertising) and now it needs to sell the Kindle to the TV and advertising loving general population.

7 Kindle free books + Kindle ad thoughts

Let’s start with the 7 kindle free books (thanks to Happy Reader Joyce)  -

  1. Smart Pricing: How Google, Priceline, and Leading Businesses use Pricing Innovation for Profitability by Jagmoohan Raju and Z. John Zhang. Rated 4 stars on 31 reviews.

    In Smart Pricing, Wharton professors and renowned pricing experts Jagmohan Raju and Z. John Zhang draw on examples from high tech to low tech, from consumer markets to business markets, and from U.S. to abroad, to tell the stories of how innovative pricing strategies can help companies create and capture value as well as customers. They teach the pricing principles behind those innovative ideas and practices.

  2. Picking Dandelions by Sarah Cunningham. Rated 4.5 stars on 43 reviews.

    Sarah Cunningham, a moderate middle-class white girl who grew up in the Michigan countryside, speaks about God with humor and honesty more characteristic of liberal west-coast writers in this Picking Dandelions Ebook.

    In this warm and witty memoir, she describes finding and keeping a personal faith in the quirky settings of her ultra-Christian childhood. Whether recounting living next to a cemetery, teaching at-risk high schoolers, or listening to her grandmother’s stories about being a British ‘war bride,’ the author weaves faith into down-to-earth metaphors of growth and renewal, planting and reaping, greenery and weeds.

  3. The Expository Genius of John Calvin by Steven J. Lawson, Greg Bailey, and Kent Barton. Rated 4 stars on 21 reviews.

    In The Expository Genius of John Calvin, Dr. Steven J. Lawson delves into the practices, commitments, and techniques that made John Calvin, the great Reformer of the sixteenth century, such an effective preacher during his long pastorate at Saint Pierre Cathedral in Geneva, Switzerland.

    Dr. Lawson identifies thirty-two distinctives of Calvin’s preaching, providing comments from Calvin’s writings, quotations from Reformation scholars, and examples from Calvin’s own sermons to reinforce his points. In the end, Dr. Lawson finds in Calvin a strong model for expository preaching and calls on modern pastors to follow the Reformer’s example

  4. Lies, Damned Lies, and Science: How to Sort through the Noise around Global Warming, the latest Health Claims, and other Scientific Controversies by Sherry Seethaler. Rated 5 stars on 14 reviews.

    Every day, there’s a new scientific or health controversy. And every day, it seems as if there’s a new study that contradicts what you heard yesterday.

    What’s really going on? Who’s telling the truth? Who’s faking it? What do scientists actually know—and what don’t they know? This book will help you cut through the confusion and make sense of it all—even if you’ve never taken a science class!

  5. Options for the Beginner and Beyond by W. Edward Olmstead. Rated 5 stars on 11 reviews.

    Appropriate for both beginners and more seasoned investors, this book covers everything from the basics of call and put options to advanced topics like delta-neutral trading and the Black-Scholes formula. Because buying options is cheaper and less risky than buying stocks, these time-limited investments are a great way to increase profits.

    Olmstead is a natural teacher, employing a concise, no-nonsense and easy-to-understand style. Readers will learn why “time is money,” how to use vertical spreads, how options can cut your tax bill and how to make profits even when you can’t predict the market direction.

  6. 15 Ways to Take Control of Your Career Now by FT Press.

    Fifteen powerfully useful mini-guides help you get ahead where you are or move on-find your next great job, negotiate great compensation, and start with confidence-smoothly handle nonstop change, negative emotions, and whatever else comes your way!

  7. Shopper Intimacy: A Practical Guide to Leveraging Marketing Intelligence to Drive Retail Success by Rick DeHerder and Dick Blatt. 

    Outstanding Retail Results in Five Steps

    1. Understand shopper behavior more deeply.
    2. Unlock the psychology driving shopper behavior.
    3. Integrate this data to achieve shopper intimacy.
    4. Identify and implement intimacy-driven strategies.
    5. Measure and track your success.

Finally, we have a free essay -

Thoughts on the new Kindle Ad

It’s clear from the reactions that the new Ad is going to be very effective -

  1. Apple people hate it. They are bristling with righteous indignation and talking about non-reading related reasons iPad is better.  
  2. It’s getting reactions the prior ads never got. The prior ads were like cute little puppies being used as guard dogs – mostly ineffective. This ad is like a vicious Doberman Pinscher that does push-ups every morning and goes to the shooting range every afternoon.
  3. Kindle owners love it. They particularly love that it actually talks about the Kindle and its benefits.
  4. It hasn’t been lost on people (especially the men) that the Kindle owner is pretty good-looking. It’s hilarious to hear people think she’s in her late 20s. A lot of interesting words and phrases getting thrown around – sophisticated, beautiful, cancer due to too much sunshine.
  5. It’s made it clear that regardless of what Amazon says it does believe Kindle vs iPad is a real battle. 

It’s a pretty interesting shift – As long as Kindle vs iPad was tilted a bit in the iPad’s favor Amazon kept claiming it’s apples and oranges (and in my opinion it is). As soon as the $139 Kindle WiFi appears Amazon kick-starts the Kindle vs iPad advertising.

The mark of a good ad or even a good product is a gut level like or dislike – a visceral reaction that riles up people or rallies them around the product.

This ad is evoking strong reactions in spades – There can be no better mark of an excellent Kindle vs iPad ad than the fact that Kindle owners love it and Apple people are irate about it.

Kindle vs iPad – Hello, I’m a Kindle and I’m an iPad

The Kindle 3 finally gets an Ad that’s got bite and it’s beautiful.

It’s so much like an Apple ad it’s awesome the joke’s on an Apple product -

  1. Apple uses a ‘cool’ guy as a Mac and an awkward, out of shape guy as a PC. Kindle’s Ad goes one better because it shows a pretty good-looking, in shape, stylish woman as a Kindle user and an awkward, mid-life crisis stricken, delta looking man as the iPad.
  2. To make things better they actually bestow him with the capability of asking inane questions.
  3. Being by the pool gives them a chance to give the Kindle owner a magic flat stomach and the iPad owner the hint of a paunch. It’s so unfair.
  4. They throw in the $139 and ‘my sunglasses cost me more’. 
  5. It’s true – the iPad really does reflect your face just like that in sunlight. A lot of the things in the ‘Hello, I’m a Mac’ ads were exaggerations – However, readability in sunlight and low price are both solid and valid Kindle 3 advantages.

The ad gets a lot right – the man being a bit out of shape but not too much, the woman being good-looking but not unrealistic, the man having the sense of style of a Greyhound bus, the woman having a lot of social intelligence so she isn’t condescending, the man making all the facial expressions required to cement him as someone you wouldn’t want to be.

My favorite aspect is that they never make it too stark – the guy doesn’t have a big pot belly and the girl isn’t unreal beautiful and the conversation is not condescending and it’s just very, very well done. There’s not really any nastiness except at the subconscious level.

Who would have thought Amazon would finally start using killer advertising for the Kindle 3.

Best Comment Ever about ‘iPad can read in the dark’ at CrunchGear

The typical ‘iPad can read in the dark’ nonsense started creeping in amongst the comments at CrunchGear’s Kindle vs iPad ad article.

First, we get a couple of valid responses to ‘reading in the dark’ -

Jack: If you purchase the cover available for the new version of the Kindle, it has a built-in LED light. It is much easier on the reader’s eyes and much less likely to affect a bed partner.

Posh: Yeah, the new Kindle cover with built-in light is almost better than the new Kindle itself.

Posh is so right – the lighted cover is almost better than the Kindle 3.

And then we get this amazing comment -

Some morons are saying that the Kindle is hard to read in the dark.

How often do you find yourself reading in the dark dumbass? Unless you’re a Chilean miner trapped in 500 feet below ground trying to catch up on his Marquez, you wouldn’t be reading in the dark.

It’s typical Apple fanboy attitude to start exaggerating the importance of reading in the absolute dark. We shouldn’t really be surprised Apple and Apple people have been promoting ‘reading in the dark’ as a super big advantage. It’s exactly what you would expect from a company that talks about using ‘aircraft grade aluminium’.

With the Kindle Lighted Cover even their exaggerations can’t hold up. Hopefully we can get them to stop hammering on the fact that iPad has a backlight and bleeds out your eyes.

Thoughts on the Kindle Ad

The Kindle advertisement with the girl prancing around and shooting something she probably shouldn’t is the most divisive ad ever.

There are always people in forums and blogs that talk about how much they love it and there are other people who absolutely hate it. If you think about it – both of groups of people are right.

It is a cute, well put together ad and the song is catchy and appealing – someone even said they play it for their baby.

The question is – Is it a good advertisement for the Kindle?

Reasons the Kindle Ad is good for the Kindle

  1. It’s a feel good song. Not quite in the league of Feist and 1-2-3-4, but close – which is quite an accomplishment. 
  2. It aims to associate/anchor good feelings with the Kindle.

Actually, after thinking about it more, there’s not that much about the ad that’s good for the Kindle.

What is going on in the Ad?

Amazon have managed to spend a ton of money on a 30 second ad that -

  1. Shows the front of the Kindle for a grand total of 4 seconds – never in close-up.
  2. Shows the back of the Kindle for 8 seconds.
  3. Shows the girl in the ad for 21 seconds and always as the focus.

It’s sort of ridiculous that the focus of the ad isn’t the Kindle. 

Reasons the Kindle Ad isn’t good for the Kindle

  1. It’s selling Annie Little and her music (which you can get free on Amazon) much more than it sells the Kindle.  
  2. In fact, it doesn’t show ANYTHING about the Kindle.
  3. It doesn’t tell us anything about all the cool features – Read To Me? eInk Screen? Free Internet? 60 second downloads?
  4. It’s supposed to be the winner of an amateur contest. That’s not exactly true because all the people involved in making the ad do this stuff for a living. 
  5. The anchoring is to the song and not the Kindle. What you’re supposed to do is take a hit song and let it set the mood for your product. Not turn an unknown song into a hit.

What would a typical viewer think after seeing the commercial?

Approximately in this order -

  1. That’s a cool song.
  2. That’s a pretty girl OR Wonder what my boyfriend/husband thinks of her.
  3. That’s an interesting idea for a commercial.
  4. A Kindle. 
  5. Wonder what it does?

The advertisement assumes that the viewer already knows everything about the Kindle and just wants to feel good about the Kindle.

In a way the ad is the exact opposite of the kindle – all form and no function.

Amazon Kindle Ad Patent

Slashdot is all atwitter as it found some Amazon Patents for inserting Ads in books – one for ads in Kindle ebooks and another for ads in on-demand printed physical books. Both patents were filed December 27, 2007.

While I think this will be to subsidize free books, and makes for a great strategy in case Google starts offering most/all books free (and supported by ads), the users at Slashdot are upset as they don’t want ads in books that people have already paid for.

The patent clearly shows that ads are opt-out indicating paid books and advertising-supported books. 

Let’s take a deeper look at the patents themselves -

Ads in Kindle eBooks Patent

The patent is titled ‘On Demand Generating eBook Content with Advertising’.

First, an image -

Kindle eBook Ad Patent

Kindle eBook Ad Patent

From the patent we can tell -

  1. The Ad will be an individual page amongst the pages of the kindle book. The page might have multiple ads.
  2. Ads will be arranged periodically and in the breaks between sections (chapters probably). 
  3. Context Sensitive Ads -

    the selected advertisement is included within the plurality of displayable pages of the requested content according to the subject matter of the selected advertisement and the subject matter of the requested content such that the subject matter of the selected advertisement is related to the subject matter of the requested content at the location that the selected advertisement is included within the plurality of displayable pages of the requested content 

  4. Ads might be in the margins with the margins moved to accomodate ads.  
  5. User Profile Targeted and Context Sensitive Ads -

    selecting an advertisement to be included in the requested content further comprises selecting an advertisement according to consumer profile interests corresponding to the consumer that requested the content and according to the subject matter of the requested content such that the subject matter of the requested content and the subject matter of the selected advertisement and the consumer profile interests are related

  6. The ads can be tracked to see their effectiveness and they can also be used to trigger related applications (perhaps a browser to buy something, perhaps amazon shopping app) -

    the selected advertisement includes actionable content for activating a related application on a viewing device displaying the computer-displayable content including the selected advertisement

  7. There’s an advertisement store and a consumer profile store – Customers can specify what type of ads they want to see, are ok to be shown. 

Ads in Printed Books Patent

This Amazon Ad patent is almost identical and focuses on print-on-demand books. The detailed descriptions in both patents seem to hint that -

  1. The advertisements might be used primarily for out of print and free books.  
  2. The books (and the ads) seem to be targeting PCs too as there’s mention of things that can be done by hovering the mouse on the ad, etc. 

Its also interesting to see where the ads will be placed (ad supported books are going to look terrible) -

Kindle Ad Placement - In Margins and In Between Chapters

Kindle Ad Placement - In Margins and In Between Chapters

A Twist in the Tale?

Definitely more than meets the eye here.  

  1. This seems to be a shopping feature more than a books feature.
  2. What if this patent is not about displaying ads in books, and is instead about displaying ads in search results on the kindle? Perhaps search results for shopping searches at Amazon.com. Perhaps search results in general.
  3. Why would there be a need to make it ‘on-demand’ and generated on the request of the user?

Update: Someone at Slashdot pointed out something that might be considered prior art and invalidate these patents – from the NYTimes, ads in books.

Finally, these might be Amazon patents – however, this is so like Google that it makes me think Amazon got word (or assumed) Google’s strategy would be free books supported by Ads and beat them to the punch.

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