The Fire Phone is Amazon’s newest device on the market. Unlike most other Amazon devices that were only meant for ebooks or as e-readers with tablet capabilities, the Fire Phone is a full phone made with premium hardware.
While the specs are great and it challenges both the Android and iPhone market, let’s look specifically at one of its most interesting, and controversial, features: Firefly. Many are saying that this feature has the ability to destroy retail stores, but it might be what’s needed to significantly increase ebook sales.
What is Firefly?
What is the Firefly feature? This is a unique feature that allows the phone to check nearly any product for its Amazon comparison. Imagine going into a store and trying on a pair of pants. You’ll find the best pair in the store, but you’ll find the best price with the phone. That’s because Firefly allows you to scan the barcode and see if it’s cheaper on Amazon (which it will be 99% of the time).
Now, there have been many barcode scanners, but Firefly goes a few steps further than your conventional comparison shopping app. First of all, it tells you the price on Amazon, not anywhere else. Also, it can do more than scan barcodes. Let’s say you see an awesome movie scene, but you don’t know what movie it’s from. Firefly can find out for you. Don’t know the name of that song? Firefly can find it for you.
It’s the ultimate comparison shopping and media discovery app because not only does it bring people directly into Amazon, but they can quickly find new products and buy new things that they wouldn’t have before. This turns interest quickly from “want it” to “got it” because products are now just a click away, and they don’t even need to worry about shipping times if it’s a song or movie.
As you probably noticed above, Firefly isn’t made specifically for books. Yes, consumers can go into bookstores and scan books for cheaper prices, but this won’t specifically help them find new books. So, how does this help authors? More Amazon customers can easily translate into new Kindle readers. Books are typically significantly cheaper on Amazon, and it’s easy to find new books through their website.
As people come to Amazon more and more, there is a good chance that a fair percentage of them will check out the Kindle listings, which can lead to better sales. This is especially true for people looking for media because they’re already interested in being entertained, so it’s just a small jump to the Kindle store to see what’s available. Not only that, but the Fire Phone comes with all the Kindle bells and whistles, which is expected to prompt people to at least try the Kindle store.
While the Fire Phone has the potential to make ebook sales explode, it’s still just potential. Yes, it will probably lead to much bigger sales for Amazon when it comes to movies, music and overall products, but nothing guarantees more ebook sales. It’s likely that authors will see more traffic, but the actual number of new sales is too hard to decipher at the moment since the Fire Phone is still very new. Many authors are rooting for the Fire Phone and its potential, but you’ll have to wait to see if there are any real benefits for authors.
There’s also the problem of usability. Some reviewers are saying that Firefly is an interesting feature, but not really a useful one. There are already barcode scanners, and it’s hard to say how many new people will flock to Amazon if they already know that Amazon offers low prices. However, the feature is built with the intention of building the Amazon fan base, and Amazon has usually been good when it comes to growing its expansive list of customers.
The Fire Phone Firefly feature really might be the death knell for brick-and-mortar stores because it makes every storefront a potential Amazon storefront since customers can try out new products before buying them on Amazon for cheaper. But, does this mean that it will benefit authors? With Kindle Unlimited and the likelihood of new customers trying out Kindle books, there is a high possibility that ebook sales will increase, but it’s hard to say if the effect will be long-term, or if it will even be significant for authors. At the same time, getting ready to do some heavy marketing to pull away from the pack might be your best bet for getting these new Amazon customers.
If you’ve ever written a series, and many KDP writers do, because it can spell large profits and an even larger following of dedicated readers, then you know that Amazon has now made it easier for customers to find your series. Writers have been able to enter a series title for years, which allows you to tell people that this book is part of your new series. However, Amazon has recently improved titling and selling of a series, which will make it even easier for people to find the other books and, more importantly, buy all of the books so that they can catch up to the new installment.
Titling a Series
This section is mostly for new series writers because this feature hasn’t changed much since the update. When you enter a new book, you have the opportunity to name it. You’ll see a field that’s labeled “Series Title.” Be sure to write the series title in here. For example, if this book is part of the “Ramen Noodle Mystery Diner” series, then write that title in this field.
Do not write the book’s title here. Also, be sure to write the exact series title again when publishing the next installment. It has to be exactly the same, otherwise Amazon won’t recognize it. So, if you make it “Ramen Noodles Mystery Diner,” Amazon will consider it a different series.
Each book needs to be numbered for Amazon to put them in order. So be sure to add a “1,” “2″ or “3″ in the title field. If you don’t, then it won’t be added to the series. According to Amazon’s guidelines, which you can find here (https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A15JL56ZKVMPGJ&ref_=pe_390220_119467240_55), it says that any books without a volume number won’t be shown in the series page. While they can still be found along with other books, you’re losing out on one of the best features of this update.
The Series Page
So, how does this new title schema make it easier to sell books? The series page. Whenever someone clicks on your series’s title, they will be brought to the series page. This page lists all of the volumes in order so that readers can quickly find all of the relevant books. No longer do they have to search for the title to find your book, and possibly others that have a similar name. Not only that, but forcing authors to number their books makes it much easier for customers to know which book is which so that they can follow the proper order.
Making sales on Kindle is all about discoverability. This makes it much easier for readers to know about your series. Before this update, some readers would buy the newest installment and just read that book, not realizing that books have come before and after it. If someone likes your series, then you can almost guarantee that they will look at the other books and buy them.
Profiting From a Series
Due to this update, you don’t have to worry too much about making people aware of your series (though it’s still good to market it as a series, just to ensure that everyone’s aware). Your primary focus should now be providing a quality product that people will want to read. Series books have always done well if the product is good, just look at some of the latest series. Harry Potter, Twilight, Fifty Shades of Gray and the Percy Jackson books. Readers love the individual books, but making them a series keeps their attention and ensures a much higher money flow for the authors.
If you can get people really excited about the first book and then keep the quality going, then you’ll make some major sales. A series also tends to be easier on the writer because the characters are already established after the first book. Now you just have to keep the plot going. At the same time, remember to stress quality the whole time. Faltering even once can reduce your profit.
Amazon is always trying to make things easier for writers, and updating the series feature now makes it easier than ever to get your series discovered. You don’t even have to do any work. Just make sure that the series and volume number are correct before publishing the book. If you do that, then people will have an easy time finding all of the books in your series.
Though they only represent a small margin of the overall ebook market, enhanced ebooks have brought up considerable debate about the future of ebooks. The vast majority of ebooks are just text with a cover and maybe a sparse image here and there (maybe for chapters). While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not taking advantage of the power of tablets and ereaders. These devices have video and audio controls, yet very few books utilize them. This post will describe the what, why and how of enhanced ebooks.
What are They?
An enhanced ebook is basically what it sounds like. It’s an ebook that has been enhanced by the miracles of modern technology. Some people consider enhancements to be something as small as resizable text or the ability to link to sources. While these changes certainly add to the book’s experience, it really doesn’t fit the definition of an enhanced ebook.
At its simplest terms, an enhanced ebook is a digital book with multimedia capabilities. Images are sometimes used in regular ebooks, but they are used more often in enhanced books. These books also use audio and video files to add to the text. Some of these books are incredibly elaborate. They might include various drawings and designs that make it look like an intricate picture book with similarly intricate videos, or it can just be a book with some audio and video files.
It might be better to call them multimedia books because every enhanced ebook uses various file types to create an overall product. These are similar to books as apps, but they are often scaled down and not as advanced. This is especially true because the books have to work within the provider’s app (iBooks or Kindle), whereas a book app can be made to do anything. At the same time, they are much easier to make than a book app, and only require a small amount of HTML coding.
Why Make Them?
From an author’s standpoint, these enhancements allow you to make a better product that can help users understand your topic. For example, if you’re talking about World War II, then you can include videos from experts to enlighten readers on certain subjects. If you’re writing a book about sign language, then you can add pictures and videos to show what each symbol looks like. Or, if you’re writing an instruction manual about playing the violin, then you can add an audio file to show the reader what the song should sound like.
Now, from a marketer’s point of view, enhanced ebooks give you a technological edge above the competition. As said before, these books represent the minority. Most books only have text. Adding various files to your book can give it that leg up it needs to sell more copies. It’s already hard enough to get attention, but adding multimedia files to your book can make it a little easier by separating yourself from the pack.
How do I Make Them?
Enhanced ebooks can become very complicated if you want to add lots of images and designs, so I’ll only go over the basics so that you understand how to add various files. If you know anything about HTML, then this will seem very familiar. There are three major file types: audio, video and images. Kindle also requires fallback text in case the device can’t render the file.
Here’s some hypothetical coding for you:
<file src=”filename.extension” title=”title”>fallback</file>
Now to make sense of this. The “file” part at the very beginning and end of the coding refers to the type of file. For example, if it’s a video, then type “video” in that section. The filename.extension is the file itself. If it’s an audio file about a baby crying, then baby_crying.mp3 would be fine (note: Kindle only uses mp3 for audio and mp4 for video). The title section is the title for the file. For example, if the image is about someone playing golf, then it could be: title=”Here’s the perfect backswing!”.
Perhaps the most confusing part for new coders will be the fallback section. Sometimes the files won’t work due to lack of Internet connection, improper coding, poor rendering or other reasons. This section is displayed if the file isn’t working. You should add something like, “this device doesn’t support this video file. Please view my blog for the file.”
Just use this whenever you want to add a file to your enhanced book.
While they only represent a minority of the market, enhanced books can help you differentiate yourself from the crowd while also allowing you to really add some value to your book. Try adding a few files to your next book to see what it can do for you. It’s very easy, and Kindle will probably get better with multimedia content as time goes on.