amazon – Stay N Alive

Mobile, Tablets, and the Need for an Extended E-Reading Experience

Imagine buying a book from the book store and only being allowed to use a yellow highlighter to highlight that book and not being able to add any notes as you read it.  Seems pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it?  Yet we’re forced into that with today’s default readers on devices such as the iPhone and iPad, or even Amazon’s Kindle or many readers on Android devices.  Right now when you read books, you’re forced into the experience the manufacturer of the device you’re reading on has decided they want you to experience.

On the iPhone and iPad, we’re provided with iBooks, a beautiful reading experience and great store to go with it that will even let you import PDFs and ePub-formatted books and documents.  However, for the static content we read on these devices, we’re stuck with only the ability to highlight in the colors they give us, copy, select, and a limited set of features to extend that reading experience.  What if I want to draw a picture on the book?  What if I want to add a text note?  What if I want to share the text I just highlighted to Facebook?  The same goes for other devices like the Kindle, and even Android, and I bet the same for upcoming Windows smart phones.  It has been this way on PDA Readers since Palm and Handspring even.  The reading experience on these readers of static, published content simply isn’t extendible, and it hasn’t evolved much in ages.

We need a Reader that has an API attached to it.  The API should tie into the highlighting, the selecting, the turning of the pages, the rendering of the content, the bookmarking, and more, so app developers can alter the reading experience beyond what comes with the device.  I’m talking about a plugin-type architecture for Reader apps that render static content.

Currently just about all modern web browsers support plugins.  If I want to render a website in a slightly different manner than what the website owner intended for my personal uses, I can do so, and it sticks to my browser and my browsing experience.  Currently, in Gmail I use Rapportive to provide more information about the people who are e-mailing me.  It uses a simple browser plugin that reads, identifies, and alters the content of Gmail in a manner that is relevant to me, in a manner that the makers of Gmail probably never considered (nor did the makers of my browser).

Imagine as you’re reading a book, being able to pull in the relevant Tweets of other people reading that book at the same time.  Imagine being able to share bits about what you’re reading with your Twitter and Facebook friends.  Imagine reading a book, and having it automatically notice your Facebook account, it reads information about you from that Facebook account, and it alters the content of the book based on who you are, perhaps even bringing you into the experience.  Imagine the ramifications of this for Text Books that can learn about you as they present information you can learn from.

Currently we’re reinventing the wheel over and over again as developers create new mobile apps that recreate the reader experience in various ways.  My publisher, O’Reilly, for instance, is creating individual applications in the app store just so they can have more control over the publishing experience for their books (at least I’m guessing that’s why they do it), and their readers get the experience they want to provide. (search for “FBML Essentials” in the app store to find my book)  What would happen if Apple instead provided the basic reader, and O’Reilly could then provide just the extension necessary for that basic reader to customize the experience for their readers.

By extending the basic book reader on mobile and tablet devices, I think we’ll see a new revolution in the way books are published that print books simply cannot provide.  It’s time we break out of the static book reading experience and provide an open, extendible experience that any developer can use to alter the way your books are presented to you, and at the same time you, the reader get to choose the best way you want to read that book.  This is the future.  This is the future with no log in button I talked about earlier.  It’s the Building Block Web, applied to books.

I wonder if Kynetx could power such an experience.

Best Buy Fails to See Amazon as Competition

best buyThis last week, along with traveling back to Salt Lake City from Boston, I was also able to celebrate my birthday for the 32nd time.  I decided, in celebration, I was finally going to bite the bullet and go out and purchase a Blue Ray DVD Player.  So I did my shopping, and found the best Blue Ray player for the price which I could find was an LG BD 370 Network Blu-ray Disc Player, which, at cheapest rate, sold on Amazon for $217.21.  It has BDLive, Netflix and Youtube streaming, along with all the other cool features you can get in a blue ray player.  Load times are also very fast.

While I was ready to purchase on Amazon and wait for my shipment, I decided to search around locally to see if I could find something I could pick up that day, since it was my birthday, after all.  I found one at around $229 on, and sure enough, it was available at my local store.  I knew Best Buy offered price matching – they hang a huge banner from their store advertising such.  I also love that I can earn points from them, and since it’s my birthday month, I get quadruple the points for my purchases this month! I also had a $10 gift certificate I had earned from previous purchases.

So I headed over to my local Best Buy, eager to purchase my new player, found the player, picked it up, and even got a copy of Coraline
to watch with the family that night.  The DVD happens to play in 3D, 2D, normal DVD formats, and has a downloadable version you can save to a Mac, PC, or iPod/iPhone.  I took it and a Coke to drink that night over to the checkout counter, and to my surprise, the lady handling my purchase wouldn’t match the Amazon price I had printed out before coming to the store!

“We don’t match online prices,” she said.  I responded with “well, you do realize Amazon is a competitor, right?” She then responded with something to the effect that it was their policy.  She then proceeded to offer me an extended warranty plan, adding, “I bet they don’t offer that online, do they?” Despite the irony of that statement and the good laugh I got from it, I left it alone, purchasing the item at full-price since it was only a $10 difference, and while Best Buy seemingly couldn’t afford that difference, it wasn’t a huge deal for me, especially since I had the gift certificate.

That experience however has made me think twice about the next time I find something cheaper on Amazon, or elsewhere online.  Since I can’t price-match at my local store, why buy local at all?  All their competitors, CompUSA, Circuit City, etc. have gone fully online.  Who exactly is Best Buy price matching with any more?

I think in the future, when I see that lower price on, I may just take it, give Amazon the business, and have the order delivered to my door rather than wasting my gas to go to Best Buy.  Sorry Best Buy, but your competitors are much more appealing to me right now.

I’m On Facebook–Now What??? Now Available for the Kindle – Get Your Copy Today!

I'm On Facebook--Now What??? For the KindleRecently when Amazon made their Kindle software available for the iPhone I told Jason and our Publisher Mitchell at HappyAbout that it was time we get our copy in the already strong database of books the Amazon Kindle Store provides. Now, not only would you not have to buy a Kindle to read our book digitally, but you could now take it anywhere with you, in your pocket, along with dozens of other of your favorite books thanks to the portability of the iPhone. This was very appealing to me, as now with just the push of a button you could download our book, read it anywhere you go, bookmark it, select your favorite pages, and more in a nice, easy-to-read digital format.

So I was proud to learn today that you can now go to the Kindle Store, search for “I’m on Facebook”, and with one click, have our book in your pocket or on your Kindle wherever you go. Better yet, it’s the cheapest of all versions, at only $9.56! We save on publishing costs, you get half off the original book price. How’s that for win-win?

If you have an iPhone, you can download the Kindle app by clicking on this link. You can also buy the Kindle 2 on Amazon (affiliate link) and get the full experience. To get the book, just go here, click the “Buy now with 1-click” link, and it will automatically be downloaded to your Kindle the next time you turn it on or open the app on the iPhone. Or, if you were always wanting to see what it was about, try it out for free! There’s a “Send sample now” link on that same page which will send you just a sample so you can see a preview of what you’re purchasing before you buy it.

Oh, and be sure to share this with your Facebook friends!

Potential Applications of Facebook Connect in E-Commerce

n_1186439527_logo_facebook-rgb-7inch-1.pngI’m way too late on this, since it’s been mentioned several times already, but I thought I’d share a little presentation Jesse Pickard and the Razorfish guys did that I had the opportunity to help out on. Jesse asked me several questions about Facebook Connect a few months ago, and he turned it into this excellent presentation on potential uses of the platform for E-Commerce. In it, he uses iTunes, the iPhone (I still predict that’s coming – I always have, as has Facebook), and Amazon all as examples of potential integration points for Facebook Connect. These types of services have tremendous potential to see maximum success from integrating social networking into their own e-commerce platforms. They do risk some privacy, but that’s the advantage of Facebook – they are one of the few services out there which allow for privacy controls of their users, and they are only getting better at it.

I’d really like to see more e-commerce organizations embrace Facebook Connect. If I can be of help in doing so, please contact me! You can read more about it via the presentation Jesse Pickard made:

Portable Social Graphs – Imagining their Potential[swfobj style=”margin:0px” width=”425″ height=”355″ src=”” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true”]

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: retail marketing)

Amazon S3 Outage Affecting Book Sales

Picture 7.pngI was just writing a post about my new book on Facebook development, FBML Essentials, being released, when I realized Amazon’s problems right now are much bigger than S3. Previously, if I did a search for “Facebook“, an entire list of books would display, including my first book. Currently, it returns nothing. Searching for “I’m on Facebook–Now What???” also returns nothing. At this point, I’m not quite sure what gets returned via search on Amazon.

Amazon is currently losing I’m sure thousands of dollars in sales as their site is having some unknown, perhaps S3-related issue. The problem is, not only are they losing money, but so are the authors and distributors selling through their site. It’s my hope that they get this resolved soon and can get things back in order. Is anyone seeing other things that are down related to this outage?

Update: it appears to be back up again, so the outage seems to be sporadic, perhaps a caching issue?

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