Reinventing the Kindle (part II)

Okay, so Amazon's Kindle is cool and it's gaining in traction and people who have one buy a lot of books. 10% of Amazon's book sales are now on the Kindle. [For books where both versions are available].

But it could be so much better. Here are my newest riffs for Jeff and Co.:

1. Give publishers (throughout this post, when I say publishers, I also mean self-published authors) the ability to insert passalong credit with a book. So, if you buy a book, it might come with the right to forward it, for free, to two other people who also have Kindles. Three clicks and you just spread the book.

Let me log in with Facebook Connect and send certain books to all my friends who also have a Kindle.

Let me see the list of the fastest-spreading books. Or fastest spreading among my friends.

2. Give publishers the ability to send free samples of new books to people who have opted in. For example, I could have a master setting on my Kindle that said, "for any book I finish, give the publisher permission to send me up to six free samples." This creates a lever for successful authors and an asset for successful publishers. It lets them start publishing books for their readers instead of trying to find readers for their books.

What happens when Malcolm Gladwell sends a note to all his readers recommending a new book?

3. Anytime I send someone a book (see #1) or recommend a book, let me (with the other person's consent) see the comments they write in the margins of the book as they read it. Imagine being able to read a novel this way with your book group, or a sales manual with your department.

4. Create dynamic pricing. As a book gets more popular, allow the publisher to give a rebate to the first # of  readers… either all or part of a book. If I get good at reading hit books first, I'll end up paying close to nothing but be rewarded for my good taste and ability to sneeze ideas.

5. Let anyone become a publisher with just a few clicks.

6. Demolish the textbook market as soon as possible by publishing open source textbooks for free. It's only natural that profit-minded professors will work to replace this by using #5.

7. Give publishers the ability to insert quizzes or feedback. This creates a certification or continuing ed or textbook opportunity far bigger than a book can deliver.

8. Allow all-you-can-eat subscriptions if the author or publisher wants to provide it. Let me buy every book Seth has written, or all the business books I can handle, or "up to ten books a week." Remember, the marginal cost of a book is now the cost of the bandwidth to deliver it, so buffets make economic sense.

9. And my last one, which I think I mentioned earlier, but it's so good, I'll mention it again: ship the Kindle with $1000 worth of books on it. I'm willing to contribute a couple of titles, and my guess is that most authors would.

It's pretty simple: many book publishers look at this new medium and ask, "how can I use it to augment my current business model." I'd like Amazon to challenge that thinking and say to the world, "how can you use this platform to create a new business model?" Jeff had a very funny appearance on Jon Stewart (it's not easy being funny with a professional comedian) but it would have been easier to tell the story if the Kindle was about community and connection too.