How “Send to Kindle” Can Help Neutralize Amazon

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How “Send to Kindle” Can Help Neutralize AmazonPublishers that sell ebooks direct to consumers typically do so in EPUB format. That’s because most publishers are still wedded to the false sense of security DRM provides, and EPUB offers a popular DRM solution. Contrast that with Amazon’s format, MOBI, in which Amazon is the only company that can apply and manage the file’s DRM’d files and settings.

A former colleague of mine and I used to get a kick out of reading the many painful steps readers are forced to go through when buying DRM’d EPUB files directly from publisher websites. It’s not uncommon for the process to require more than a dozen steps to proceed from buying to reading. And most of the process has to be endured once again if the consumer decides to start reading the same book on another device.

Click here or here to see the many hoops one must jump through to install DRM’d EPUB ebooks on one device as well as read them across multiple devices. It’s no wonder when you search for help on the topic that the most popular links aren’t how to manage the process, but rather how to remove the DRM and eliminate the associated headaches.

More and more publishers are starting to realize that DRM is pointless, but they’re still missing out on one of the biggest opportunities of all: putting their DRM-free ebooks into a reader’s Kindle library.

It’s no secret that Amazon dominates the ebook marketplace. Most readers have built a substantial Kindle library, and the last thing they want to do is create a new library outside the Kindle ecosystem. They simply want all their books in one place.

Amazon’s “Send to Kindle” functionality has been around for quite awhile, and I believe it’s one of the most under-utilized services available to publishers. The “Send to Kindle” email option lets publishers push non-DRM’d ebooks directly onto a consumer’s Kindle bookshelf. I’m sure it was originally designed for documents other than ebooks, but I think it’s time for book publishers to take advantage of it for their ebooks as well.

In addition to simply selling EPUB or PDF ebooks, why not provide readers with the MOBI version and push them directly onto their Kindle devices and apps? All you have to do is ask the reader for his or her unique Kindle email address and then have them enable inbound emails from your domain. Once that’s in place, you’re able to place the ebook on their shelf just like Amazon does.

Once you’ve established that direct relationship with the consumer and their Kindle account, why not ask them if they want to opt in to receiving future related ebook samples from you? They’ll no longer have to search for similar books from your list, as you’ll be able to automatically push samples to the reader’s Kindle bookshelf as they’re published. Take it a step further and make your samples available via this service 30 days before they’re available anywhere else. Get even more creative and offer a random free ebook prize to some number of lucky winners every month. There are plenty of ways to make “Send to Kindle” work for you and your customers.

It’s all part of creating a compelling reason for readers to come to you, the publisher, rather than always relying on retailer partners. Used wisely, the “Send to Kindle” service can help neutralize Amazon’s dominance while also helping publishers establish a better direct relationship with their customers.

This article first appeared on Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies.

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6 thoughts on “How “Send to Kindle” Can Help Neutralize Amazon

  1. Joe WikertJoe Wikert Post author

    Hi Nate. As I mentioned in reply to the same comment you posted on my blog, yes, Amazon can prevent you from pursuing this. Any reasonable person would assume there’s risk in using Amazon’s own platform as a way to neutralize them. I figured that goes without saying but I’m saying it in this reply just to be clear. However, I also think there are ways around this. It requires another step but I can imagine a method where the email is actually sent from the consumer’s address, not the publisher’s domain. In order for Amazon to prevent that they’d have to kill the entire Send to Kindle program. I wouldn’t put it past them to do so but that would be a pretty big step and inconvenience for their customers.

    1. Ryan

      Amazon can take it away but even in such a scenario you can still allow customers to download a .mobi file via a direct sales website. This is a little bit more hassle for the customer but has worked very well for us – we’ve been selling eBooks direct to customers in multiple formats (including online HTML) for a few years now and many of our publications simply wouldn’t be viable if we were only selling via Amazon and Apple. I’ve written on this myself but it’s really great to see other articles like this outlining proactive options for publishers!

  2. Jason Freeman

    Hi Joe, thanks for writing this post. For our instaFreebie platform, send to Kindle is the default option for our readers side-loading mobi files. And, as you mentioned, they have to send from their own personal email address (we don’t accept Amazon requires that a sender be an authorized email for Kindle, so it’s a better user experience if a reader authorizes their own personal email.

  3. Rudy

    And for those of us who are comfortable with direct download to PC and sideloading to the Kindle, make it possible. I won’t use Send to Kindle, but I direct download from several sites, including at least one that watermarks the books (a kinder, gentler DRM that allows converting to other e-reader formats).

    1. Jason Freeman

      Hi Rudy, we think social DRM makes a lot of sense too. Many of our authors/publishers use our free social DRM service while some choose to go DRM free. Both work well for the reader in our experience.

  4. Corey J. Popp

    I use the “Send to Kindle” to distribute my ebooks to my household family, and you’re right, it’s a huge convenience. But here’s the rub: By the time I explain to a typical, non-techy consumer how to FIND their Kindle email address (and the CORRECT one for the device they want it sent to, nonetheless), I might as well email the book to their standard email address and include the how-to steps to open it in their Kindle app.



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