Most Kindle owners don’t fully understand what their Kindle devices can or can’t do.
Some customers leave negative reviews, where if they had simply known how to best utilize their devices, this negative experience might have been avoided. (There are also Kindle e-books that could be formatted better. In this post, I’m focusing on the former, not the latter.)
Some customers have implausible expectations for what a book might do. If they had reasonable expectations, they might be more easily satisfied with their purchases.
Authors have three choices:
- Blame Amazon. Customer buying and reading experiences with Kindle will remain unchanged.
- Ignore it. Nothing improves this way, either.
- Help educate Kindle owners. In your marketing and even in your books, you have the opportunity to improve prospects for customer satisfaction.
You don’t need to setup a class to help educate Kindle owners:
- Mention relevant notes in your Kindle e-books or even in the description. For example, if you have pictures that may look better zoomed in, you could explain that many e-readers (don’t assume the customer is using a Kindle) have a zoom option, then as an example you might mention how to zoom in on the Kindle Fire.
- Include a short Kindle tutorial on your website. It needn’t be comprehensive; it could simply highlight a few important points that many Kindle customers aren’t familiar with. Focus on points that relate specifically to your books.
- If a point may be particularly important for Kindle customers who buy your book, when you mention your book, you could include a short tip that may help Kindle owners get the most out of your book. Then you’re not just advertising your book, you’re also providing free help.
- Have you read a book or tutorial that shows you how to make the most of your Kindle Fire? Review the book on your blog. Post a link to the book or tutorial on your sidebar.
Here are a few examples of things that some Kindle customers don’t know:
- You can download a free app, Kindle for PC, to read any Kindle e-book, even if you don’t own a Kindle device. Suppose you publish a book full of colorful images. You might mention in the description that it’s best read on a device that supports color, then suggest Kindle for PC (with brief instructions, or where to find them, for how to download this free app and read a book with it) for those with b&w devices.
- Did you know that you can double-tap on an image in the Kindle Fire to enlarge it? Then you need to click on the X to resume reading.
- It’s possible to enable automatic book updates. From Amazon’s homepage, when logged in, place your cursor over Hello, Your Name, Your Account near the top right. Click Manage Your Content and Devices. Find Automatic Book Update on the left. Note: This doesn’t provide an update whenever the publisher (who may be the author) uploads a revised file. The publisher must first contact KDP, then KDP must verify that improvements were made, and KDP must decide it’s worth notifying customers. If you update your book and succeed in persuading KDP to notify customers of the update, you might want to let your fans know about this and how to get the update.
- Want to clear the furthest page read? Visit your Kindle Library (similar to setting automatic book updates, explained in the previous step—simply pick this option from the list instead). Use the Actions button at the right.
- Try not to laugh, but some customers actually don’t know that you can return a Kindle e-book in 7 days if you’re unhappy with the experience. Authors see returns (sometimes, too many) in their KDP sales reports, and therefore assume that all customers know how to return e-books. Yet many don’t realize that this is possible. Is this something you wish to advertise? Good question! On the one hand, if you already have too many returns, you may feel reluctant to encourage more of them. On the other hand, think of those customers who review books based on the first few pages. A percentage of those reviews are from customers who didn’t realize that they could have returned the book (while many also are from customers who already did return the book, or, worse, didn’t even buy it). Note that there appears to be some threshold, where if you return “too many” e-books you may lose this returnability option.
- I was reading a Kindle e-book once where all of a sudden every other page was blank. At first I wondered how anyone could publish a novel with intermittent blank pages. Then I deduced that it wasn’t actually formatted that way. I powered my Kindle off, then when it restarted, the book didn’t have blank pages anymore. It surely wasn’t the publisher’s fault, and the problem turned out to be easy to fix at my end.
It’s not just readers who may benefit from some Kindle education. Many authors can use this, too.
Keep in mind that some authors don’t react well to unsolicited advice given specifically to them. But most don’t mind learning something that was posted on social media (so long as they don’t suspect that their book was the motivation for the post). Yet there are some authors who openly ask for advice.
Try to learn what your options are before you publish. For example, did you know about the Kindle Comic Creator (which might be relevant for picture books other than just comics)?
Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers
- Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
- Volume 2 on marketability and marketing