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On e-Reader Tech News we track down the latest e-Reader news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great e-reader tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest devices and accessories.

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November 2011
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Amazon Kindle Special Offers Still Picking Up Steam

One of the ways that Amazon has managed to bring down the price of their Kindle eReader to a point that nobody else has been able to match is through their Special Offers.  This feature saves customers $30 – 40 on their new Kindle by displaying advertisements in place of the otherwise uncustomizable screen saver images that the device carries by default as well as on the bottom of menu screens.  In doing so, Amazon makes enough off the ads, in theory, to offset the discount and maybe even get word out about useful offers they could be interested in.

One of the most notable initial offers was that of a $20 Amazon.com gift card for only $10.  This was only available to active Kindle w/ Special Offers owners and got a fair amount of press at the time as a smart move on Amazon’s part.  Other ads have included Buick, Olay, Visa, ABC, and more.  There was, and for some still is, some question as to how effective this advertising method would prove to be in the end, but responses are coming in from Advertisers that put that to rest for the time being.

For example, while Buick was mainly concerned with building a connection in customers minds between their brand and what they viewed as an innovative new product (the Kindle), they have been reported as noting that their customer engagement matched what they’ve come to expect from other, more established media.  ABC’s promotion also went well, with over 24,000 people taking advantage of their free script offer in support of new show “Revenge”.

In the past month, however, people in supported areas might note having seen a focus on the new Amazon Local service.  This is meant, by all appearances, as Amazon’s own competition for the popular Groupon site.  Nationwide offers in such areas have been somewhat scarce as a result.  This has led some to jump to the conclusion that Amazon has been having trouble finding people interested in advertising via Kindle.  One Amazon advertising VP, however, was able to come right out and say that there has yet to be a drop in the number of interested advertisers.

In spite of the fact that this appears to be a fairly narrow media venue to exploit, the Kindle has brought reading back to the front of peoples’ minds in a way that many wouldn’t have believed possible five years ago.  Millions have been sold and, while Amazon does not and is unlikely to ever, release sales numbers for the Kindle, it is safe to say that several of those millions had the Special Offers included.  These devices are cheap, allow for an unhindered reading experience wherein ads will never appear to disturb you, and can even come in handy when bringing deals to your attention.  Personally, I was just glad to stop seeing the same dead author portraits over and over again.  It seems clear that while there is expansion to be done and experience to be gained, this was a smart move on Amazon’s part.

Kindle Library Lending

I work in a library, so I often get questions about how the Kindle Library Lending program works.  It is a new program so it hasn’t really gotten too popular yet, but it shows promise of being a great success.

The program is currently available in roughly 11,000 libraries. For North Carolina, there is a North Carolina Digital Library that is a local subset of OverDrive that includes the Kindle e-books.  I’m sure there are equivalents in other states. The Kindle Library Lending program is a partnership with OverDrive, the website that handles most digital library books, including ones for the Nook and iPad.

On a participating library’s main page, there is usually a widget or ad saying that they have books available for the Kindle. Once you click on the link, you’ll be taken to the library’s Overdrive account. For most libraries, you will need to enter your library card number. Different libraries have different ID’s needed to get in.

Click “Get for Kindle.” Then, you’ll go to the your Amazon account where you can download the book to any Kindle supported device. That includes the Kindle itself, as well as all of its apps for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Android.

One thing to note: Public Library books on Kindle can only be downloaded via Wi-Fi. They cannot be downloaded via the Kindle’s 3G connection.  Wi-Fi is easy to find these days, but if you can’t get to a Wi-Fi hotspot, you can hook up your Kindle to the computer via a USB cord.

Loan periods depend on the library.  Loan periods are usually for about three weeks for regular books, so I’m sure it will be similar with a Kindle book.  When the expiration date is up, the book will disappear from your Kindle.  So, no worries about having to remember to return it on time.

Kindle Library Lending is available in a lot of libraries in the US, but not in all of them yet. I am hoping that it will be available at my local public library in the near future so I can take advantage of the program first hand.

The role of e-books is increasing rapidly in libraries.  This goes a long way in breaking the stereotypical image of a library being a large, quiet building full of dusty books.  In reality they are constantly working to stay on the cutting edge of technology, and on new ways to reach out to their patrons.  The Kindle lending program is just one small example.

The Kindle lending program brings the library to you, and this allows people who can’t get to a library to have access to their favorite books.  For more information on the program, check out the Amazon Kindle Lending program FAQ on Amazon’s website.

Amazon Expands Prime Video Offerings For Kindle Fire Release With PBS Deal

While it does other things as well, in a lot of ways the Kindle Fire seems to be intended to do for internet video what the Kindle eReader line has done for the eBook.  While Amazon hasn’t quite got the content of, say, Netflix, they’re doing a great job of building up the lists in preparation for the launch of the new media tablet.  Deals have been made with the likes of Fox, CBS, and others to offer a selection that will cater to practically any taste.  The big trick is to get people interested in buying.

In order to ease customers into the experience, new Kindle Fire owners will be getting a month of free Amazon Prime membership.  Now, in addition to the well known benefit of free two day shipping on almost anything Amazon.com sells for the duration of a Prime membership, everybody with said membership get to stream a fairly large segment of the Amazon Instant Video library for free any time they want to.  It isn’t the whole collection by any means, but there’s been some good stuff there.

Now there is even more.  Amazon has arranged to make a large selection of popular PBS titles available as part of the Prime package.  This will include Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Julia Child’s The French Chef, and a great deal more.  All told, over 1,000 new episodes will show up over the next couple months, bringing the general total of this free streaming category to over 12,000.  PBS has declared that this is part of a larger overall strategy to bring their programming to anybody who wants it whenever and wherever they want to experience it.

Obviously this works out well for customers.  Freely available content is nice and it will give people a chance to assess the value of the Amazon Prime program on an individual basis.  For Amazon it’s even more useful since it gives them an opportunity to impress. They’re reportedly selling the Kindle Fire for a slight loss on every unit, which means that money has to be made through other avenues besides hardware.  Amazon Prime membership is one of those.  This means that the company has every incentive to make the service worth the $79 annual fee.  As most people who have used this service come to realize, it tends to be.  It also lets people test out their own situation with streaming video in terms of connectivity and reliability.  Nobody wants to be stuck spending money on video without knowing if they will actually be able to watch it.  The trial is good news for all involved.

It’s likely this won’t be the last we hear about expanded video content in the next few months.  That includes both Prime and regular content, of course, but the service is clearly poised to expand.  With the recent dissatisfaction with Internet Streaming giant Netflix, it’s a good time to be presenting customers with an alternative opportunity.  If you’re a fan of this sort of technology, it’s something to keep an eye on around and immediately following the Kindle Fire launch.