Will Amazon Respect Its Kindle Fire Customers?

The Amazon Kindle Fire launched with great success this holiday season. Sales have outpaced Amazon’s forecasts, and manufacturing has stepped up. But the iPad competitor has quality issues with more than 30% of buyers rating the device negatively to neutral (1 to 3 stars).

KindleFire

The New York Times ran an extensive piece about customers many Fire foibles. In it, Amazon promises an over the air update this week (one that has yet to arrive).

My 3 star experience with the Fire matches these less than thrilled customers. A suddenly dead Fire in the middle of a road trip prompted a tour of the Amazon site and resetting the device. Further issues include its movie watching capabilities, in turn turning me back to the iPad as the preferred, portable, long-form viewing device.

As Amazon seeks ubiquity with its less than perfect Fire, the negative reviews continue to rack up on the site. And now more media are reporting about it. When you see the product on Amazon, it is listed as a 4 star product, not at all representative of the significant minority of dissatisfaction.

Half

Negative reviews are left unanswered by Amazon’s customer service team, with no private email or interaction, something social media users are quite familiar with as half of corporate brands ignore comments on their own pages. Amazon seems to have taken a software product attitude of we’ll fix it later or as we go, and you’ll have to deal with it.

One has to wonder if Amazon’s slow response can succeed in the face of the negative undercurrent. If the Kindle marketing strategy is all about ubiquity through low-cost sales, then the fastest way to ensure success is not just to sell a lot of Fires, but to quickly address customer service issues to enhance and strengthen word of mouth marketing. That means respecting your customers, even the ones who have had a negative experience.

What do you think about the Kindle Fire?

Everyone Has Written a Book!

Contraband - Now Is Gone

Go to enough social media conferences (like two maximum), and you will inevitably have a conversation about the cliche, “Everyone’s written a book.” This meme references the seemingly endless proliferation of social media books published. Consider this author a two-timer in that sense. But in reality, the meme isn’t true.

It’s really hard to write a book. This brutal, laborious process takes months, including endless rewrites and revisions, all part of a difficult editing process. This commitment to write everyday for very little money also significantly sacrifices numerous portions of your personal life. It can endanger your personal relationships and your physical well being. Having completed four books (two business published, two unpublished novels), these texts took almost three years to write… Before editing.

Scores of social media bloggers have been asked to write books because they have already demonstrated they can produce content on a regular basis (in addition to the ongoing demand for subject matter knowledge). Publishers figure the blogger can actually put in the effort necessary to succeed. Writing a book requires the daily commitment that many bloggers have already demonstrated.

But if you think the actual book writing is the hardest aspect of the process, you are sorely mistaken. It is the easy part.

Moving $15 Books

Amber Naslund (@ambercadabra)
Amber Naslund discusses the Now Revolution at last Friday’s YouToo 2011 Conference.

Book marketing beats the spirit out of authors. It requires travel, events, clever blogging and updates with a consistent focus on the same thing. You feel like a broken record talking about the same thing over and over again. It takes great creativity to make the same topic seem fresh over and over again.

There is non-stop pressure from a publisher to move books. Publishers provide almost no support for marketing (their editing support is questionable, too), insisting that their authors do the work. Publishes ask YOU, the author to hire a publicist these days. If you can’t market your own book then it won’t sell.

As a result, very rarely do you see Gary Vaynerchuk types of book deals. Books don’t sell without significant marketing, and Gary has one hell of a following. In 2004, 950,000 titles out of the 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies. Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies. These days, the average book sells less than 250 copies a year. Most books fail, and the publishing industry won’t invest in the average book.

About the only thing publishers really do is provide access to Amazon, Barnes & Noble online and most importantly, shelf space at book stores. Unfortunately, distribution is hit or miss depending on the the publisher (and their faith in the book). Now that the Kindle and other readers are starting to dominate the market, brick and mortar book stores are closing throughout the United States. This in turn, even further diminishes the value that publishers bring to bear.

Given that so much of the work relies on the author, the very low financial reward, and the declining power of publisher distribution, self publishing makes more and more sense. It’s something that will definitely happen personally, if only for the novels (publishers see fiction as even less viable option than business books).

Of course, that truly means that everyone can write a book. Now if only they can actually write it; figure out the editing, publishing and distribution processes, and of course, market the book. That all assumes the book concept is actually interesting and worth reading. So since everyone has written a book, where is yours?