The Incredibly Stupid Thing Amazon Does

Steven Troughton-Smith has got me to thinking about the Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet. And when I ruminate about something, I mentally replay all that I’ve seen and read in my head.

And what popped up with a flag in my replay was this:


That’s the Kindle app. Already on the Dell Venue 8 Pro. And that led me to the incredibly stupid thing Amazon has been doing.

About a year ago, I fondled a bunch of Asus hardware at their unveiling event.

And that’s when I wrote about Amazon’s incredibly stupid thing too:

I couldn’t try the Kindle app because it wasn’t prepared with a demo account.

I don’t know what will happen with that when demo units are in stores. I’ve already read that the Kindle app stinks, but I’d like to see that for myself and I think most buyers would too.

Photo from then:


This just makes no sense at all.

If I go into a Staples, I can try out a Kindle just fine, seeing sample eBooks:


Why should the Kindle app that’s pre-installed on any tablet act differently?

Why isn’t it possible for Amazon to ship the app with either a demo mode or a demo account sign-in mode?

As much as Amazon wants everyone to buy one of their Fire tablets, not everyone will.

And guess what? The Kindle Store doesn’t give a damn if people buy a Fire tablet or not. The Kindle Store just wants to sell more Kindle books. And that’s exactly how Amazon is structured. There is — forgive the word — synergy, but each business is still its own business.

Yet this incredibly stupid thing Amazon is doing with the Kindle app on other tablets — as well as phones and PCs — is thwarting the aim of the Kindle Store.

It shouldn’t be this way.

Amazon is usually a very smart company.

But they have been doing this incredibly stupid thing.

It’s time to stop doing that.

And I don’t want to hear how this is impossible or difficult or WTF. You know why?

Because Google Play Books can do it.

Here I am fondling the first-generation Samsung Galaxy Note at an AT&T store last year, with a book called up from Play Books:


If Google Play Books can manage to do that, so can Amazon.

Get on it, Amazon!


  1. fjtorres4 October, 2013

    Well, Amazon isn’t the only one with this issue–Nook and Kobo also require log-in to work, but yes; most third party reading apps install with a demo book or two for testing.
    And it wouldn’t even be hard to do a two stage setup, especially on system pre-installs, that loads up in a demo mode with a couple of PD books and commercial samples (Audible does this) with a big button to sign-in.
    E-mail them. They do have a suggestions account.

    1. flyingtoastr4 October, 2013

      B&N has special demo accounts set up for their devices so that stores can not only demonstrate books and such – but they can purchase new content without being charged to demonstrate how you go about buying stuff.

  2. William Ockham4 October, 2013

    It’s not incredibly stupid at all. It’s perfectly reasonable. Here’s where you go wrong:

    I’ve already read that the Kindle app stinks, but I’d like to see that for myself and I think most buyers would too.

    Nobody is going to make a hardware purchasing decision based on the Kindle app. That’s ludicrous. How does it help Amazon if people can see a demo book on the Kindle app on some random piece of hardware? Amazon has an implied contract with their customers. If the Kindle app is available, you can read your books on that device. The only thing that matters is whether or not the Kindle app is available. Having that icon there tells their entire customer base everything they need to know. A demo book would be misleading because it would be chosen to look really good and could mislead the customer into thinking all their books would look that good.

    Outside the mobileread forums, no customer cares whether the Kindle app itself (the controls, etc.) is crappy or not . And the folks on that forum know that the app will change in a few weeks, so a demo is useless for them.

    Companies should put their time and money into projects that further their strategic goals for their platform. Demo books do nothing for Amazon’s strategic goals.

    1. Nate Hoffelder4 October, 2013

      So you’re saying that Amazon’s purposes are served merely by having the app on the display model? I can see that.

    2. fjtorres4 October, 2013

      Uh, a demo mode on the downloadable app wouldn’t hurt and might help when it comes to people working with hardware that *doesn’t* come with the app preinstalled and those who *aren’t* early adopters. Casual readers, tech laggards, and other newcomers to ebooks don’t necessarily come in understanding much, if anything, about ebooks. A chance to install the app and sample an ebook without jumping through *any* hoops might lead to a sale or two.
      And it’s not as if it requires a massive use of resources.
      Amazon is good at sweating the details but this is one detail they haven’t bothered with and they really should. Casual readers/late adopters are the bulk of new ebook buyers.

      1. William Ockham4 October, 2013

        I believe that having a demo mode would hurt. The first hurdle Amazon has to overcome is to get people to give up their credit card info. It is very much in Amazon’s interest for people to believe that the app is useless unless they have an Amazon account. The Kindle app exists to extend the Amazon customer relationship. It’s not competing with EPUB readers.

        If someone downloads the Kindle app, they have already expressed an interest in reading Kindle ebooks. The next step is to cough up your credit card number. If you’re not willing to do that, you’re not a customer. Amazon would lose customers if there was a step between downloading and entering in account information. They will get convert more non-customers to customers by asking for the account information immediately rather than letting people opt out to a demo mode. They would lose some conversions just because they would lose people’s attention. A demo mode would have to convince more people to become customers than Amazon would lose from attention attrition.

        And I just don’t see how that’s possible. No one needs to be convinced that the app works. Everyone knows some total tech noob who has a Kindle. Everyone knows how to read. Everyone expects Amazon to have the books they want to read. What could possibly increase the chances that the downloader would create an account later?

        1. fjtorres4 October, 2013

          The desire to buy a book, maybe?

  3. Iaminvincible4 October, 2013

    You’re all right, I think. Huh.

  4. Bubba4 October, 2013

    Or maybe Amazon doesn’t care to help a rival hardware vendor sell their product. If a person is able to see how good ebooks look in the kindle app on the dell venue pro that might help that person decide to go with the venue pro. why should amazon help dell sell their hardware and lose a potential kindle fire or kindle pw sale. the demos are available on amazon’s on products for that reason. If the buyer is going to buy the venue pro anyway then amazon might still get a kindle store customer if they have the app there already. So why does Dell preload the app there? For the same reason amazon doesn’t want the demo there, because it will help sell the venue pro. Dell doesn’t have to like it but amazon is the big player in ebook sales so a venue buyer will be pleased to know they have access right away. So why does google play have demos on non-nexus hardware? Because they also know that amazon is the main player in ebooks so google needs the extra help that a demo gives to entice a reader away from the kindle app and into google’s.

    1. Nate Hoffelder4 October, 2013

      Except Amazon doesn’t make much money on hardware. Wouldn’t they be just as interested in increasing their chance of getting a Kindle customer?

      1. Bubba4 October, 2013

        Yes the low price of kindle fires and pw means little direct profit from hardware, but selling it ensures a much more amazon centric locked down revenue generation than a kindle app on someone else’s hardware. And in case they lose that hardware sale, then the kindle app provides the backup to bring kindle store sales.

  5. Bubba5 October, 2013

    RIP Tom Clancy.
    RIP Vince Flynn.

  6. Brandon Ouellette5 October, 2013

    Amazon’s strategy is impulse buying. They already have the brand recognition for people to want access to the Kindle e-book store app on other tablets, so they need payment details right away for this to happen.


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