The world of Kindle resources continues to expand. Here are two worth bookmarking, especially for aspiring authors and self-publishers:
http://indiekindle.blogspot.com/, which describes itself as “a resource for readers, authors, and indie publishers oriented generally but not exclusively around the amazing Amazon Kindle”. The blog is maintained by Stephen Windwalker, author of several books and articles about the Kindle. On it you’ll find links to an array of Kindle related communities and forums, including nearly two dozen sources of free content.
My sense is that most consumers feel their book-reading habits should be considered private. Of course, if you’re buying your books through an online vendor or using a member discount card at a brick-and-mortar, well, your habits are already being tracked. I’m talking about something much more granular than this though. For example, would publishers like to know what percentage of customers typically only get about 20 pages into an e-book before giving up and never reading the rest? Would reference book publishers like to know what topics tend to be the most viewed or what terms are most frequently searched for? Could these patterns have value? Absolutely. Perhaps that’s another pricing model that will find its way into the e-book world: You could pay one price for privacy where your activity isn’t being tracked or a lower price if you’re willing to let the vendor capture your habits and potentially sell the resulting data.
This is just the sort of approach that I’ve been noodling over to support the Kindles for Kids program. It would work like this: Deserving , low-income student gets a free Kindle, along with access to a site with free e-books to download. To entice publishers to make their content available for free, the recipient first agrees to download an app on the Kindle that logs data related to the amount of content read, (i.e. completed) along with a variety of other metrics of interest to both publishers and academics who collect data on adolescent literacy. After stripping out personal information, the data is uploaded and then aggregated and analyzed with a degree of granularity never before available. Sponsoring publishers use the results to tweak their marketing plans, and scholars use it to track student’s improvements in literacy tests.
This concept is alluded to in Chris Anderson’s seminal piece in the March 2008 issue of Wired, called:
“Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business”
In it, he provides a couple of examples of offering free hardware and/or content in return for access to data or upsell opportunities. This model could be the key to a sustainable non-profit business. Stay tuned for more details.