Thursday, April 3, 2008

An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos

Re: The Amazon Kindle

Dear Jeff,

I am writing to express my utter disappointment in Amazon's apparent lack of commitment to the Kindle. I am hoping my concerns are unfounded and that Amazon will do something in the near term to demonstrate that.

Let me explain. The day the Kindle was announced, I was ecstatic. I ordered it without any hesitation whatsoever. When asked by friends what I thought about the device, I sang its praises. You can find my review on your web site here. And here is an excerpt from an email I sent to my associates.
I read and buy a lot of books. I want the latest books and I don't have time to go to the library and when I do I always pay fines for returning them late. Anyway I like to write in my books so the library is out of the question. When Amazon offered their Amazon Prime service I jumped all over that because it would save me a ton in shipping cost and I can have the book I wanted in two days.

But the Kindle for me is 2 orders of magnitude better than Amazon Prime because:

1) I can have the book instantly.
2) The book is cheaper.
3) I am seriously running out of shelf space.
4) I can't carry more than 3 physical books with me on my 1.25 hour commute from beautiful Oyster Bay

So for me Kindle is not a device it is a SERVICE (yes I know I sound like Jeff B. but it is true).

Here is what this SERVICE gives me:

1) Instant access to all the books I buy hence forth.
2) The Wall St. Journal first thing in the morning (where I live your lucky if it gets there at 9:30 AM)
3) Instant access to a book I want to buy and a discount to boot.
4) Ability to search my books.
5) Ability to add notes.
6) All of this (including my notes) backed up on Amazon.
7) I can hold the Kindle in one hand and turn the pages while simultaneously drinking coffee with other hand while standing in the subway (THIS IS HUGE)!
8) I can read the WSJ without feeling like a complete idiot because I can't figure out how to turn the giant pages without whacking the girl sitting next to me on the train (THIS IS REALLY HUGE).

However, its been 5 months now and the Kindle platform seems to be stalled. Here is what I perceive as wrong:

1) The Kindle still shows itself sold out!
I realize this does not mean your have stopped producing and shipping Kindles. But to be in a perpetually sold out state for 5 months is not good. It may seem good to some but I am suspicious. The iPod is the most successful device in terms of sales in a long time and I don't believe Apple ever listed it as sold out on their web site. No matter how many iPods were purchased, Apple was committed to manufacturing more. There is no way you will have me believe that you are selling more Kindles than iPods, so why can't you keep any in stock?

2) There are a huge number of books I still have to buy as paper.
Why are you not being more aggressive in making deals with publishers like O'Reilly. I am told by my contacts there that your terms are too difficult. Open up your wallet and allow the publishers to make a buck and the Kindle will be the one of the most successful devices of all time (despite Job's pronouncement that no one reads anymore).

3) Why no software updates?
This device is far from complete! There is so many features you left out. Here is my list. I realize not all theses feature would be money makers for Amazon but some new features would show commitment to the platform.

a) Define my own short cut keys
b) Simple PDA functions like a calendar and todo list
c) A feature to turn on and off the wireless at specific times of the day to save battery. For example, I would turn mine on in the morning to receive the WSJ and then off.
d) Email client (besides gmail).
e) Better way to organize books such as user folders, short cut links, etc.
f) A customizable home screen (RSS feeds, weather, etc.)
g) A music player worth using!

I can go on and on.

Please tell me some of these things or better ones are in the works. Please tell me you did not get me all excited about the e-book revolution for nothing! Please stop being so secretive about sales figures. Please re-kindle my enthusiasm!


Sal Mangano


Jason said...

I'm glad your wrote this. The idea of the Kindle fills me with joy and amazement and thankfulness that I was born at the end of the 20th century. It's Star Trek technology.

I really hope it gets as popular as the iPod, makes reading cool again, and comes down in price. But that won't happen with a half-assed commitment from Amazon, I guess.

Sal Mangano said...

Here is Amazon's initial response when I sent the link to my blog to their Kindle feedback email address. I am not sure my post expresses "faith and support"! I am certainly sure that their response does not "resolve my questions"!

Greetings from

Thank you for sending us your comments about your faith and support towards the Amazon Kindle expressed in this link;

It is very important for us to hear about your experience using Kindle and shopping in the Kindle store. Strong customer feedback like yours helps us continue to improve the service we provide, and we appreciate the time you took to write to us. I've passed your feedback along to the Kindle team.

Thank you for your interest in Amazon Kindle.

Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

If yes, click here:
If not, click here:

Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.

To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.

Best regards,

Damion H. Customer Service
Check your order and more:

Jason said...

*raises one eyebrow*