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 – [polldaddy poll=1803840]

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.

Tolkien, Kindle – Lord of the Rings hits Kindle Store

Kindle Store just added 5 of J. R. R. Tolkein’s books, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The titles now available for Kindle 1 & 2 are –

  1. 3 in1 Lord of the Rings Trilogy for $16 approximately.  
  2. The Children of Hurin – A somewhat unfinished story by Tolkien that his son edited and polished and published in 2007.
  3. The Hobbit for $8 – a bit of a prequel to LOTR.
  4. The 3 books in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy are for $9.99 each – they include The Fellowship of the Ring,  The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. 

Tolkien’s books should be hitting the Kindle bestseller charts soon enough.

Update: It was announced 8 pm on April 19th, and already (in 4.5 hrs or so) it’s rising up the Hot New Releases Charts. Its Kindle Store sales rank is #59 overall, and The Hobbit is at #63.

LOTR climbing up the charts
LOTR climbing up the charts