Monday, April 12, 2010

New Leadership at Kindle Periodicals, and a Great Idea to Bring Thousands of New Content Sources to the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Kindle

Apparently there's a breath of fresh air coming aboard the Kindle team, if we can judge from this piece by Greg Sandoval at C/NET's Media Maverick blog. Sandoval got hold of and published a parting email from Scott Ambrose Reilly, who will take over today running business development for Kindle periodicals after three years as senior manager for Amazon's high-growth digital music division. Although the natural media hook for Reilly's parting was one brief portion of the email where he told his correspondents that "a few of you have been a total pain in the ass, " the general thrust of the email suggests that Reilly may be a bit more of a rock 'n' roller and cowboy than some of the more buttoned-down corporate 30-somethings that we might imagine staffing the Kindle group on the Amazon campus.

Reilly says he is "particularly proud" that his efforts, leadership, and "some cockamamie schemes" have grown Amazon's digital music profile -- and upset music industry expectations in Cupertino and elsewhere -- to the point where 11.5 million DRM-free tracks are available in six countries. Today "it is time to start the adventure of Kindle Periodicals," he says. "I am thrilled Amazon is giving me another great opportunity like this to help develop and grow a burgeoning digital media space."

No doubt Mr. Reilly will have plenty on his plate in dealing with some of the major corporate magazines, newspapers, and blogs to bring them into the Kindle Periodicals space, but there's a major step that he could take right from the get-go to create value for the Kindle group while also making the Kindle Periodicals platform the go-to venue for tens of thousands of ezine and indie bloggers:

Amazon should outfit its DIY Kindle Publishing for Blogs beta platform to offer participants access to all of the devices for which Amazon offers free Kindle-for-X device apps, including the iPad, the iPhone, the iPod Touch, the PC, the Mac, the BlackBerry, and all the other devices for which Kindle apps are in the pipeline.

Operationally, such an offering could be based on opening up those apps to include periodicals directly without any circuitous transfer procedures. Currently Kindle content customers can read Kindle books on their Kindle-for-X device apps, but booting up the Kindle app on the iPad, the iPhone, the iPod Touch, the PC, the Mac and the BlackBerry provides no access to their Kindle newspaper, magazine, and blog subscriptions. I receive multiple emails each day from my blog subscribers looking for Kindle-for-X device app access to their Kindle subscriptions Kindle Nation Daily or iPad Nation Daily, and it would not surprise me if Amazon was working both on serving blogs to their Kindle-for-X device apps and on making them accessible beyond U.S. borders.

A cool alternative route to (pretty much) the same destination would be for Amazon to offer its 10,000 Kindle Store bloggers -- and thousands of others who would sign up for its DIY Kindle Publishing for Blogs beta platform a free or inexpensive app development package that would deliver the publishers' content directly to Apple's App Store for its devices. Amazon could charge $29.99 for the service and split the take with Apple in lieu of Apple's standard retail charges for access to its App Store. Many blog publishers lack the in-house tech capacity to design their own apps, and are pretty resistant to laying out folding money either for app development or for Apple's price of admission.

Solving these problems isn't just a win-win idea, Scott.

We're talking a win-win-win-win-win idea, because it would be beneficial to current and future Kindle periodical and blog subscribers, to periodical and blog publishers, to Amazon's bottom line for the Kindle, to current and future iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch owners, and to Apple (both because of the App store additions and revenue and because making the devices more feature-rich would help to sell them).

The entire concept fits in neatly both with Amazon's strategy to outflank the big publishers by continuing to build an ever broader and more indie-intensive catalog for the Kindle and with its sophisticated big-tent understanding of the long-time bottom-line benefits of device-agnostic focus on Kindle content.

After all, from the Kindle's humble beginnings way back in November 2007, that's what the Kindle has been all about. It's almost as if Jeff Bezos said to his minions, "I know that Jobs doesn't think anyone reads any more, but we've got to not only prove him wrong but turn him around so that Apple will come out with and sell tens of millions of new devices that double as delivery systems for Kindle content."

As if? Or maybe that's what he did say.

p.s. - Love to talk to you about this, Scott, any time between now and when I go in to the hospital Wednesday morning for my total hip replacement. Even with the surgery I'll never be as hip as you, even if I start at this late date listening to Tom Jones. I'm already on board with Parton and Waits and I'm willing to give The Yayhoos and Ryan Bingham a listen. Nader has my cell and my email.

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