Amazon delivers long-promised Kindle for Mac

Amazon just sent out a press release – Kindle for Mac has finally being released. It works for Mac OS X 10.5 and above and is a pretty good offering.

The details on Amazon Kindle for Mac

Here are the main details from the Amazon.com page -

  1. Best reading experience on the Mac (claimed). No Kindle required. 
  2. Past Kindle Book purchases can be accessed.
  3. If you have Kindle or Kindle for iPhone then bookmarks, notes, last page read are all synced.
  4. Kindle for Mac let you create bookmarks but not notes.
  5. Kindle Store newspapers, magazines, and blogs are not available.
  6. You can get free book samples and have the full range of 450,000 Kindle Store books available.  

Kindle for Mac will get some additional features in the near future – full text search and the ability to create and edit notes and highlights.

The Press Release adds some more information -

  • Access their library of previously purchased Kindle books stored on Amazon’s servers for free
  • Choose from 10 different font sizes and adjust words per line
  • View notes and highlights marked on Kindle, Kindle DX, and Kindle for iPhone
  • Read books in full color including children’s books, cookbooks, travel books and textbooks
  • The Amazon page also lists minimum system requirements -

    A Mac with a 500MHz Intel processor or faster. At least 512MB of RAM.

    Screen resolution of 800×600 or greater. 100MB of available disk space.

    Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and 10.6 (Snow Leopard).

    Apple Blogs chime in on Kindle for Mac

    The Unofficial Apple Weblog share their thoughts – they feel it’s a no-frills release and have to agree with that. They also think it’s too bad PowerPC and Tiger users are left out and again they have a point.

    The news hasn’t really spread much and there is little analysis so far. It is a big deal though. Amazon have shown a willingness to support Mac – In addition to Kindle for Mac we have the Kindle Development Kit Beta working on the Mac. Amazon’s warm embrace of Mac is an important sign that Amazon want to build channels to the Kindle Store on all platforms.  

    Hopefully by tomorrow we have more opinions and insights.

    Kindle Vs Kindle for PC Vs Kindle for iPhone

    Kindle Vs Kindle for PC Vs Kindle for iPhone becomes a really interesting choice if you’re not sure you want to spend $259 on a dedicated eReader like Kindle 2.

    Here’s a video contrasting the three options -

    Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each -

    Where does the Kindle shine?

    The Kindle does great at reading – exactly what you’d expect in an eReader. It also has a lot of benefits that the PC and iPhone offerings don’t i.e. Read To Me, Free Internet Access, etc.

    Kindle – Pros

    1. The Screen is great for reading and works in all lighting conditions.
    2. The Screen does not hurt your eyes.
    3. There are zero distractions.
    4. In-built dictionary and Search.
    5. Free Wikipedia access and Free Internet access for reference.
    6. Good sized screen i.e. 6″.

    Kindle – Cons

    1. You have to buy a Kindle for $259.
    2. No Color.
    3. No Touch.
    4. Not as compact as an iPhone.
    5. Screen isn’t as big as a laptop or PC.

    Please check my Kindle 2 Review if you’re thinking of getting a Kindle.

    Where does Kindle for PC shine?

    Kindle for PC lets you read all your Kindle Books (or any book in the Kindle Store) on any PC, anywhere in the world.

    Kindle for PC – Pros

    1. Very, very simple and easy to use.
    2. It’s free.
    3. Color (and on Windows 7 multi-touch).
    4. Lots of font sizes and lots of options for number of words per line.
    5. Works on almost every netbook and PC (Kindle for Mac is slated for release in a few months).
    6. Works on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.
    7. Windows 7 optimized i.e. multi-touch etc.
    8. Screen is as big as your monitor.
    9. Lets you shop the Kindle Store and buy books. Though the ‘Shop in Kindle Store’ button doesn’t seem to be working for me.

    Kindle for PC – Cons

    1. Portability is limited to portability of your PC (none) or Laptop (good) or Netbook (much better than a PC).
    2. The Screen hurts your eyes – although if you disagree feel free to leave a comment.
    3. For the moment you can’t add notes and highlights.
    4. No Text To Speech.
    5. It’s more of an add-on than an independent offering.

    Check my detailed review of Kindle for PC if you want more details.

    Kindle for iPhone

    Kindle for iPhone recently added support for notes and highlights and made it a better product.

    Kindle for iPhone – Pros

    1. You have your phone with you nearly all the time.
    2. Fits in your pocket.
    3. Free.
    4. Color and Multi-touch.
    5. Bright LCD screen for reading without light at night.
    6. Sepia theme/color setting is great.
    7. 5 Font Sizes and 3 text color settings.

    Kindle for iPhone – Cons

    1. Doesn’t work well in bright light (sunshine).
    2. Screen is too small.  
    3. Screen hurts your eyes – again, leave your comments if you feel compelled to disagree.
    4. Lots of distractions.
    5. Battery life doesn’t compare with the Kindle.  

    Check my iPhone Reading App Reviews for more on iPhone reading.

    The big takeaway after contrasting the three is -

    Amazon is creating Kindle for PC and Kindle for iPhone as Starting Points (Add-On Services for Owners)

    Amazon is making it a point to make the Kindle the focal point and create Kindle for PC and Kindle for iPhone as starting points from which you can graduate to buying a Kindle.

    For Kindle owners, they become valuable add-ons. Think of the features -

    • The ability to sync your book location across the devices.
    • The ability to make notes and highlights on the Kindle and the iPhone (and soon on the PC).
    • Access notes and bookmarks across devices.
    • Buy books and access your books from all three.

    These features combine to create a very compelling overall offering.

    How do Kindle for PC and Kindle for iPhone rate as independent products?

    By themselves, both Kindle for PC and Kindle for iPhone are starting points – they are good enough for reading. As you begin to read more you’ll probably want a Kindle.

    There are going to be people who curse me for writing that a PC or an iPhone can not be as good for reading as a Kindle.

    However, ‘good enough’ is not the same as ‘great’.

    1. Reading on the Kindle is 8.5 stars (8.75 stars if you’re generous).
    2. Reading using Kindle for iPhone is 7 stars – Amazon intentionally leave a few features out to not make it too good. There are other apps that hit 7.5 despite the eye-strain and small screen size.
    3. Reading using Kindle for PC is perhaps 7 to 7.5 – haven’t done enough of it to say for sure. Again, you get the feeling Amazon left out some features to ensure it’s a stepping stone to the Kindle and not a substitute.

    If you love to read and can afford it, get a Kindle. If $259 is out of your reach, get Kindle for PC or Kindle for iPhone.

    Where does that leave us?

    1. Well, lots of people will download and read on one or both of Kindle for PC and Kindle for iPhone.
    2. Some of them, especially the ones who read a lot, will end up deciding to buy a Kindle.
    3. The books they’ve bought already and the use of a Kindle offering ties them to Amazon.
    4. Even people who don’t buy a Kindle will associate ‘Kindle’ with ebooks and reading.

    Kindle for PC and Kindle for iPhone are great for Amazon

    Amazon is already doing great with eReaders.  

    • If the skeptics are right and eReaders disappear then Amazon still owns the main reading channels and can sell ebooks.
    • If the skeptics are wrong, then Amazon owns the main channel i.e. eReaders and also owns the other important channels (PCs, netbooks, iPhones).

    Barnes and Noble have become a real threat to Amazon (something Sony never was). Kindle for PC is a necessary measure – expect a few more Kindle features and improvements before Christmas.

    As far as Kindle Vs Kindle for PC Vs Kindle for iPhone – all of them are simple to use and great products. The range of books in the Kindle Store and the low prices make each a compelling option.

    If you read a book a week (or more), the Kindle is worth the $259. If you read just one book a month, get Kindle for PC and Kindle for iPhone and enjoy the Kindle store.

    Is Amazon justified in not having a Kindle App Store?

    Amazon’s decision to not allow third party apps for the Kindle doesn’t seem quite as strange if you consider -

    1. The ongoing FCC investigation of Apple because they didn’t let the Google Voice App into the iPhone App Store.
    2. The ‘about to become a fiasco’ attempt by Rhapsody to add an iTunes competitor app.

    We suddenly have a situation where Apple is supposed to let competitors and would be usurpers into their walled garden. To profit off their hard work and exploit their users as they see fit.  

    Does Political Correctness dictate that Apple and Amazon turn their platforms into dumb pipes?

    Take a company that invests hundreds of millions of dollars and builds up its platform or service – Apple with its iPhone, Amazon with the Kindle.

    The message seems to be -

    Great for you that you built up the #1 spot.

    You have to be polite though, and buy the politically correct ‘be open’ nonsense your competitors are selling.

    So, guess you’ll just have to turn yourself into dumb pipes and let other companies make all the money.

    Oh, by the way, if you’re not stupid enough to buy this ‘altruism’ nonsense, we’ll just step in and make sure you have no choice.

    We seem to be forgetting that -

    1. Every company is in it to make money.
    2. Altruism and openness are just strategies.

    By buying this ‘be open’ message we’re negating the platform owners’ advantages while doing nothing to counter the advantages their opponents have.

    Who in their right mind would develop platforms and infrastructure if all platforms were dumbed down and socialized? 

    Can Amazon be blamed for not even considering a Kindle App Store?

    Here are the benefits for Amazon if it opens up a Kindle App Store -

    1. Someone codes a good Folders app. 
    2. We get a few crosswords apps. 
    3. Someone taps into the hidden GPS abilities and creates a local search and maps feature.

    The upside is completely drowned out by the huge risks -

    1. Google submits an app that takes over the browser and the kindle store and then pulls in the FCC if the app isn’t approved.
    2. Buy.com starts running an app to buy things from them via the Kindle.
    3. WalMart builds an app that price-matches every Amazon purchase and offers Kindle owners free shipping if they choose WalMart.
    4. Gambling companies try to co-opt the Kindle into being an on the go casino.
    5. Virtual Goods companies start selling ‘virtual gifts’ and exploiting trusting Kindle owners.

    Basically, the message the FCC’s investigation is giving companies is -

    Its not ‘correct’ to be really, really good and beat your competition.

    Its so evil to make money off of your hard work and your #1 position.

    Why build a platform when you can just con your way into exploiting the platform.

    Opening up your platform even a little is inviting total disaster. Apple did and see what they’re left with -

    1. Google owns search. 
    2. Google owns Maps. 
    3. Google wants to own making phone calls.
    4. Rhapsody and Palm want to subvert iTunes.

    Amazon has to be looking at this and thanking their lucky stars they didn’t start opening up the Kindle.

    Why not let the Customers Decide?

    There’s no love lost between Apple and me. However, I’m firmly on Apple’s side here as this ‘government stepping in to right wrongs’ approach is too socialistic –  

    1. Customer have free choice – they won’t buy an iPhone or Kindle if they don’t want to. 
    2. Who decides what’s important to customers? Some company with ulterior motives? The Government?
    3. The US is a capitalist country, is it not?

    This FCC stepping in to ‘open up’ the Apple Store is rather reminiscent of ‘Financial Bailouts to prevent an Economic Disaster’ in that the people being saved are not you and me – it’s big, huge corporations that are already making billions.

    Surely, if the customers were so dismayed by Apple’s lack of openness and Kindle’s lack of support for ‘open’ formats, they would stop buying iPhones and Kindles – would they not?

    Perhaps we’re not dumb idiots who have to be ‘saved’ from ‘evil, closed systems’. Perhaps the reality is that we just don’t care about being fooled by an altruistic strategy into making some company undeservedly rich.

    Kindle Brand Loyalty

    There’s an extremely interesting discussion going on at the kindle forums – How Strong is your Kindle Brand Loyalty?

    There are two things in particular that are worth looking at -

    1. How much better would a product have to be to steal Kindle owners? 
    2. What’s the impact of the Internet Mass Media’s relentless attacks on Amazon and Kindle?

    The Raw Numbers on Kindle Brand Loyalty

    First, let’s do a poll –

    The discussions at Amazon had these rough statistics (out of 35 or so people) -

    1. Very Loyal due to Amazon Loyalty – 6 people.
    2. Very Loyal – 7 people. 
    3. Somewhat Loyal – 6 people. 
    4. No Loyalty – 9 people. All these people said they would pick the best eReader.
    5. Anti-Amazon – 1 person.
    6. Lost Loyalty due to Amazon’s actions – 1 due to the 1984 issue. 2 due to lack of Folders.

    Interestingly, the single biggest feature request is folders (8 people actually mentioned it as their big ‘make kindle better’ feature).

    This is probably the most unscientific survey ever (on a self-selecting group no less). However, it does detail something interesting -

    People are not going to leave the Kindle and Amazon unless a clearly better product comes out.

    Three Big Walls that Amazon has created

    Based on the discussion, and what people have written at the forums in the past, there are three big walls Amazon has created -

    1. Loyalty to Amazon – Customers trust Amazon.
    2. Kindle = best eBook Solution – Kindle’s Wireless Network, Cheap Book Prices and Range of Books really separate it from every other eReader.  
    3. Kindle lock-in and the cost of switching – Being first to market, getting a lot of kindle owners, and kindle’s proprietary format means that there are multiples costs to switching.

    There have been a lot of studies on how owning a ‘member’s card’ at a grocery store drastically increases the probability of shopping there.

    Its a principle called committment and consistency where you see yourself as a member and it becomes part of your identity.

    Owning a Kindle definitely would have some similar effect, and probably more of an impact.

    Impact of all the Negative Publicity

    It was interesting to see just 1 person (out of 35) mention the 1984 issue.

    Wonder whether there’s more to the relentless attacks on the Kindle than just a lot of slow news days – 

    1. Have the media decided that Amazon is becoming too powerful and public opinion needs to be turned against them?
    2. Is it that there’s an extremely vocal minority that’s totally out of touch with what customers actually want.

    It just seems that what people really care about is convenience, and not DRM. Yet the big sites keep harping on about DRM.

    The Real Threats to Kindle and Amazon’s Brand Loyalty

     It seems that there are only two real threats to the Kindle in the near future -

    1. Not improving the Kindle.  
    2. A markedly better eReader from a trusted company like Apple.

    The two important questions in Kindle Owners’ minds seem to be -

    1. How much better will Kindle 3 be? 
    2. When will Folders be added to Kindles?  

    If Amazon answers those correctly it has little to fear.

    Selling Kindle Books – Tips for Authors

    These ‘Selling Your Book in the Kindle Store’ tips stem from a review of strategies self-published authors are using successfully in the Kindle Store

    1. This is a study of successful strategies, not personal experience. 
    2. Correlation does not imply causation i.e. just because 90% of successful self-published authors have blogs does not mean that having a blog causes success. 
    3. This is a partial list.

    That being said, these tips will increase your chance of success.

    Selling Kindle Books – Pick a Role Model and learn

    great list of authors that self-published. The Kindle Store gives you a better opportunity than any of them had.

    Self-published authors that are succeding in the Kindle Store include –  

    1. Stacey Cochran. 
    2. Boyd Morrison. 
    3. J. A. Konrath. 
    4. Dennis Batchelder
    5. John August

    Use Google and Bing liberally and explore their blogs, the sites they’ve joined, and the networks they’re using. Also, read their books and compare the quality of writing.

    Selling Kindle Books – Sell Your book for $1

    $1 or $2 – Those are the only prices that are working.

    There are a few reasons a $1 price is critical -

    1. It makes the purchase a no-brainer.
    2. You’re competing with established authors so you have to compete on price.
    3. Even established publishing houses are giving away past books or the first book in a series for free.

    Its also a filter – it implies humility, it filters out people trying to turn a quick profit, and it tells people you are focused on your work and spreading it, rather than making money.

    Selling your Book in the Kindle Store – The first 10 reviews

    The first few reviews you get will set the tone -

    1. Every prospective buyer will read them before making a purchase decision.

    You’ve probably put 6-12 months of your life into the book. The first few reviews decide whether people even give it a chance.

    How do you get those first few great reviews?

    Its a combination of  -

    1. Having a great book.
    2. Telling a compelling personal story (via your online presence).
    3. Doing intelligent marketing.

    Having a Great Book

    Everything flows from this

    1. The better your book, the better the reviews. 
    2. The better the reviews the more people will try it out.
    3. The better the reviews and sales the more bloggers and people will be inclined to write about it.  
    4. A really well written book will generate lots of word of mouth.

    Having a really, really good book makes everything else easier.

    Have an online presence that tells your story

     This is a big area for most self-published authors to improve on. All things being equal (or not quite equal) we as humans are inclined to pick authors who -

    1. We Like. This is hugely important.
    2. We can relate to i.e. there are some similarities. 
    3. Have a compelling personal story. 
    4. We feel deserve to succeed.  

    Look at this example from Boyd Morrison’s site -

    My wife and I have a unique agreement. After we had been married for three years, she decided to attend medical school, but having earned an English degree in college, she needed two years for her pre-med requirements. So that meant nine years of pre-med, med school, and residency, during which time I was the wage-earner with a full-time job, unable to spend much time on my passion, writing fiction.

    Read all of it. All of us have that compelling personal story – the reason why we’re passionate about what we do (and if you’re not why do it?). So put it out there.

    You have to -

    1. Maintain a blog where people can read your story and updates. 
    2. Participate on forums and social networks (official Amazon Forums, Good Reads, etc.).  
    3. Contact bloggers and reporters and site owners and ask for help. The problem most sites and blogs face is a lack of good content – they’ll usually be glad to have a guest post or to feature you.

    However, you have to do all of this intelligently.

    Selling Your Book in the Kindle Store – Intelligent Marketing

    What are successful authors doing?

    1. Running and maintaining a blog.
    2. Offering their books for free on their blogs.
    3. Offering them for $1-$2 in the Kindle Store.
    4. Informing people in amazon’s kindle forum – Stick to posts devoted for this purpose (like this independent author thread).
    5. Promoting the book in other forums (includes tips from Boyd Morrison).
    6. Joining social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and book social networks like GoodReads, LibraryThing.  
    7. Participating in kindle specific forums (mobileread, kindle korner).

    Independent authors are getting to reach end-customers directly and get a fair chance. Readers are getting a chance to decide what succeeds.

    Its a win-win situation – and both parties should appreciate it. Appreciating it makes you likelier to succeed.

    You have to understand that Kindle Owners Want Independent Authors to succeed

    Who would you rather support?

    1. An independent author. OR
    2. A Publisher that wants to turn off Read To Me, charge you higher prices for Kindle books, decide for you what you should read.

    There’s a lot of incentive for kindle owners to support good independent authors and decide what books get encouraged. Its literally ‘build up your favourite authors’ from the ground up – an American Idol for book lovers.

    Always keep this in mind – The readers are on your side.

    Closing Thoughts on Selling Your Book in the Kindle Store

    You’ll notice two threads running throughout the tips -

    1. The first – how good is your book?
    2. The second – how passionate are you about your book and about writing?

    If you look at the amount of effort that is needed – writing, polishing your book, maintaining your blog, participating in forums, contacting people – it doesn’t make sense unless this is what you really, really want to do with your life.

    If it is, and you’re putting in the work, then the Kindle Store is a great fit and Kindle Owners will give you a fair chance.

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