Kindle Store's Marketing Challenge

I don't want to pick on Amazon or the Kindle Store.  I am a voracious reader, and the miraculous invention of books that magically appear in my living room is too wonderful for words!

But as an author, here's my problem.  I sent some gift copies of my new short story collection Nine Romantic Stories to a few friends and family members around the holidays. Here 's a sample conversation:

"I can't read your book because I don't have a Kindle."

"But you don't need a Kindle.  You can read Kindle books on phones, tablets, or your PC."

"But doesn't a Kindle book require a Kindle?  Why would it be called a Kindle book?"

"No, no, it's a Kindle book because it's, uh, sold in the Kindle Store.  It's not a book that's made only for a Kindle.  You can download software and read it anywhere?"

A few hours later, I received the following, "I don't know where to download it, and I don't see anything on the website that helps me find the Kindle Cloud Reader."

So, I had to walk through the options:  you can download the Kindle reader through your iPad apps, the Google Play Store or other smartphone apps, or, yes, you can dig it up on Amazon-- but try doing a search for Kindle Cloud Reader in the Kindle Store (where you'd expect to find it, no?)  What you get is a list of books about the Cloud Reader-- and oh yes, a small (for leprechaun readers) note at the top about the software.  No wonder she hadn't found it.

The long and short of it is I suggested, "Go to Google and search for Kindle Cloud Reader" and presto, the Kindle Cloud reader  appears.  (Yes, now you have the link too!)

I found blog posts that suggest to new authors that they send emails explaining how to download the Kindle Cloud Reader-- or else, they lose sales.  Now, Amazon and authors have one shared goal, which is to sell more books-- but they divergent goals about selling Kindles.  Is that why the software is hidden-- so that Amazon sells more Kindles?   Maybe, or maybe it's yet another example of poorly designed navigation.  Either way, it hurts authors.

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