Amazon launches “Kindle on the Web”

Screen shot 2010-09-28 at 8.24.16 AM.pngFrom the press release (blockquotes omitted): (NASDAQ: AMZN) today introduced the beta version of “Kindle for the Web,” making it even easier for customers to discover new books and authors by sampling Kindle books directly through web browsers—no installation or downloading required. Amazon is also inviting bloggers and website owners who are participants in the Amazon Associates Program to be part of Kindle for the Web by embedding samples of Kindle books on their websites. These website owners will earn referral fees from Amazon when customers complete book purchases using the links on their websites. More information about Kindle for the Web and how to embed Kindle book samples is available at

Customers simply click the “Read first chapter FREE” button on a book product page on Amazon or on other websites, and the first chapter will open within the web page. Customers can change the font size and line spacing, adjust the background color, and share their favorite books with friends and family via Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail—all without leaving the book in the browser.

“With Kindle for the Web, it’s easier than ever for customers to sample Kindle books – there’s no downloading or installation required,” said Dorothy Nicholls, Director, Amazon Kindle. “Kindle for the Web is also a great way for bloggers and authors to promote books on their websites by letting visitors read a chapter without leaving their site.”

To see examples of Kindle for the Web on authors’ websites, go to the blog of author Karen McQuestion at and the free sample of her bestselling Kindle book “A Scattered Life,” or the website of author John Miller at and the free sample of his book “The First Assassin.” …

In the future, Kindle for the Web will include optimization for mobile browsers and other features. For more information about Kindle for the Web, including instructions on how to embed Kindle book samples, go to

2 Comments on Amazon launches “Kindle on the Web”

  1. As an aside, it’s not very web friendly for an author to have a website that is 38 keystrokes long.

  2. This new feature is both weird and spooky.

    The weird part is that their FAQ page illustrates the feature with a page for the bestseller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Wanting to see the feature in action, I searched Amazon for that book (by title on advanced search). I was surprised. I didn’t get the page where Amazon is selling the book like hotcakes with a #4 Amazon rank. I got a page so little visited that it is devoid of reviews and that links to where sellers other than Amazon are selling the book. (The main page for the book has 1,889 reviews.) It took me a minute to force Amazon to show me their own page selling the book.

    I wasn’t surprised that Amazon does weird things with searches. I’ve been told by people at Amazon that their search algorithm displays the version that makes Amazon the most profit per sale, which in this case was independent sellers who pay Amazon kickbacks. I just didn’t know they applied that nasty rule to #4 bestsellers. I thought it was only for minor authors who can’t kick back. In the end, that redirection is costing Amazon money. People look for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, get a result that seems to suggest Amazon isn’t even selling it, and go elsewhere. Like I say, it’s weird.

    The spooky part comes with the green-tinted “Try it free” box for books with Kindle editions. I’d wondered if the display let users show in their browser how a Kindle book would look on various sized devices, little on an iPhone, large on an iPad.

    It does much, much more. It can push that sample out to your mobile, Kindle-reader-running device. The pull-down list on that Amazon page knows not only that I have a Kindle, an iPod touch, an iPhone, and a version of the Kindle reader for my Mac, it knows what I’ve named my Kindle, my iPod touch and my iPhone. That’s the spooky part and leaves me feeling like Jeff Bezos in peering in my office window. From that webpage, Amazon will push a sample down to any of your Kindle-running devices, so users can see what the book actually looks like on the device itself.

    I just tried it. I turned on WhisperSynch on my Kindle and displayed the home page. On the Amazon webpage for Kindle edition of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I selected “Deliver to:” specifying my Kindle and clicked on “Send sample now.” About 20 seconds later, without my doing anything else, that sample appeared on my Kindle.

    I imagine users have to run their Kindle app on iPhones or their Macs to pull down the sample, but on a Kindle that takes place totally automatically. You don’t see what it might look like on your device in a browser window. You actually see it on your actual device.

    This also illustrates why Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla of the ebook industry. Other online sellers are dipping the toes into the water, fearful of snakes, crocodiles or whatever. Amazon has plunged into water over their heads, investing what it takes to be the key player in the new industry. It is by far the one with the broadest reach. Apple doesn’t even have a version of iBooks for Macs and the iPhone version only runs under iOS 4, which I won’t put on my 3G. In contrast, Amazon has a Kindle version that runs on every gadget I have and it synchs my reading and notes between all of them.

    Those who say that Amazon is a bully are probably right. But it is also a hard-working, risk-taking one. If the rest of the ebook distributing industry doesn’t wake up, they’ll find themselves in big trouble.

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