Web Apps

Kindle Breaks Into Browsers

Amazon on Tuesday cracked the cover of its new book-in-a-browser service designed to make it easier for readers to discover new reads.

“Kindle for the Web,” as the service is called, doesn’t allow customers of Amazon’s e-bookstore to read their purchases within a browser window — Amazon already has a software download for that purpose.

Instead, readers will be able to sample the first chapters of books via the Web before making a purchase decision, and without downloading any special software, Amazon said.

Also, the service will allow authors and others enrolled in the Amazon Associates Program to embed book samples on their websites. The site owners will get a referral fee for each e-book copy purchased through their sites.

Putting Content First

Although Amazon’s Kindle is the leading e-book reader, the move indicates the company’s desire to emphasize its content offerings over its hardware in an increasingly crowded market for reading devices, Michael Norris, analyst for Simba Information, told TechNewsWorld.

By allowing potential buyers to sample books on topics that interest them without the added step of having to install software or even visit Amazon.com, the company is reducing the potential friction involved in making a sale, he said.

“I don’t think Amazon is de-emphasizing the hardware, but rather coming to terms with the fact that most people have no interest in a dedicated e-reading device since they consume only a small number of books in a given year,” he said. “So the only way to make the Kindle store model work effectively is to reduce the barriers between the consumer and the content, and part of that involves getting consumers to look at Amazon as an e-book provider in the first place.”

The Experience

Amazon allowed a few authors to pre-place samples of their books on their own websites to showcase the beta version of the service. On author Karen McQuestion’s site, a sample of her book, A Scattered Life, appears embedded in her blog.

Just a few lines of text appear at a time, but the simple navigation controls work. An expansion button blows the sample up to full screen size for easier reading.

On her blog, McQuestion, who began her career as published author with a self-published Kindle book, promoted the service as a boon to writers, readers and Amazon alike.

“It’s a great way to promote books, and it might sell a few Kindles too,” she wrote.

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