Amazon’s Super Bowl Ad

8 February 2016

Since PG is not a huge NFL fan, he just found out about the following:

 

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February 2016 Author Earnings Report: Amazon’s Ebook, Print, and Audio Sales

8 February 2016

From Author Earnings:

Two years ago, the first Author Earnings report revealed the growing market share of self-published ebooks. With data on hundreds of thousands of titles, it was suddenly possible to measure the relative sales and earnings power of ebooks according to publishing path. By sharing this data, we hoped to help authors understand the changing market in order to make sound decisions with their manuscripts. In the two years since, our quarterly snapshots have revealed emerging trends in the digital publishing world. Before we get into this month’s report, let’s look at those trends, with our new February 2016 data points included.

a1

In two short years, the market share of paid unit sales between indie and Big 5 ebooks has more than inverted. The Big 5 now account for less than a quarter of ebook purchases on Amazon, while indies are closing in on 45%.

. . . .

a2

In the purple line above, we can see the decline in share of ebook dollars earned by Big 5 publishers. Despite the greater profitability of ebooks over print books, some of these publishers have touted their shrinking ebook sales as a positive development. Meanwhile, we know from our own data (more on this later) and from Amazon’s press releases, that overall US ebook sales have actually gone up in dollar terms. The blue indie line shows where most of that increase is being funneled. Today, a quarter of all consumer dollars spent on ebooks in the US is spent purchasing indie-published ebooks.

a3

The most important graph for authors shows the rapidly diverging rate of ebook author income by publishing path. The Big 5 publishers are now providing less than a quarter of the dollars earned by creatives for their ebook sales. Indies are taking close to half. As detailed in previous reports, higher prices and other missteps are a likely contributor to this accelerating trend, but the reality may be that major publishers simply are finding it difficult to compete with indie authors on diversity, price, quality, and frequency of publication, as this divergence has been increasing for the last two years — well before the Big Five’s return to no-discount agency pricing. But as we can see, the transfer of market share in author earnings from Big Five to indies did steepen significantly after the Big Five’s 2015 reinstatement of agency ebook pricing.

. . . .

For this report, Author Earnings threw out all of our previous assumptions. We built a brand new rank-to-sales conversion curve from the ground up. This time we based it on raw, Amazon-reported sales data on the precise daily sales figures for hundreds of individual books from many different authors, spanning a period of many months. Our raw sales data included titles ranked in Amazon’s Overall Top 5 — titles whose KDP reports verified that they were each selling many thousands of copies a day — and it also included books ranked in the hundreds of thousands — whose KDP reports revealed were selling less than a single copy a day. We combined that mass of hard sales data with a complete daily record of Amazon Kindle sales rankings for each of those books, pulled directly from individual AuthorCentral graphs. We ended up with nearly a million distinct data points in total.

Why did we need so many data points? Because Amazon’s Overall Best Seller Rankings aren’t a simple calculation based on each book’s single-day sales — they also factor in time-decaying sales from previous days as well. To reverse-engineer Amazon’s ranking algorithms, the more raw sales and ranking data we used, the more accurate our results would get. So we fired up some powerful computers, fed them all that raw data, and let them crunch the numbers.

. . . .

Armed with our brand new, data-derived rank-to-sales conversion methodology, we were finally ready to tackle our deepest, most comprehensive look yet at Amazon’s daily book sales. We fired up AE’s web-crawling spider bot across 250 high-powered 8-core servers and walked it down each of Amazon’s thousands of best seller lists and category sub-lists. In a little over an hour, we pulled almost a terabyte of real-time data from the product pages of over 500,000 of Amazon’s best-selling titles. Here’s what we found:

a4

. . . .

The aggregate share of indie self-published titles on Amazon’s best seller lists, at 27%, hasn’t changed since September 2015. It is still more than double the representation of Big 5 titles. But what has changed, very significantly, is the degree to which Amazon’s overall Top 20 Best Sellers, and even the overall Top 10, have come to be dominated by self-published titles from indie authors — nearly half of which were not priced at $0.99 but rather “full-priced” sales at prices between $2.99 and $5.99.

On January 10, the date our spider ran:

  • 4 of Amazon’s overall Top 10 Best Selling ebooks were self-published indie titles
  • 10 of Amazon’s overall Top 20 Best Selling ebooks were self-published indie titles
  • 56 of Amazon’s overall Top 100 Best Selling ebooks — more than half — were self-published indie titles
  • 20 of Amazon’s overall Top 100 Best Selling ebooks were indie titles priced between $2.99 and$5.99

We’re not the only ones to observe this trend, which seems to have now become the new normal.

These top-selling indie titles encompassed a wide variety of genres. Romance and Paranormal were well represented, certainly, but Amazon’s Top 100 Best Sellers also included quite a few self-published indie Science Fiction books, indie Thrillers, indie Suspense novels, indie Urban Fiction, and even Cozy Mysteries by indies.

But best seller slots held by each type of publisher is a far less interesting metric than share of daily ebooks sold, which is where we first bring our brand new rank-to-sales curve to bear:

a5

Whether we use our new, scientifically-derived curve or the old original crowdsourced one to compute unit sales, the trend we see is exactly the same. When it comes to the number of ebooks sold each day, the market share of indie self-published titles has grown substantially since our September 2015 report, while traditional publishing’s collective market share has shrunk. Indie books now account for more than 42% of all ebook purchases each day on Amazon.com.

. . . .

Sometimes a change in strategy achieves the intended result… and sometimes it backfires.

The Big Five’s return to agency ebook pricing may have been just such a case.

Their ebook pricing strategy was intended, at least in part, to slow the erosion of brick-and-mortar print book sales.*(3) By preventing Amazon from discounting the Big Five’s ebooks at Amazon’s own expense, the Big Five could force the consumer prices of their ebooks artificially high — higher than what many consumers are willing to pay for digital books. The thinking among Big Five publishers was undoubtedly that this would encourage those consumers to buy fewer ebooks on Amazon, and instead buy more hardcovers and paperbacks in brick and mortar bookstores, thus preserving a legacy distribution advantage long held by the biggest traditional publishers… and one that was fading away fast as a higher and higher percentage of book purchases were being made online instead.

From November 2014 to September 2015, the Big Five publishers negotiated brand new two-year contracts with Amazon in which they fought aggressively for — and won — the right to prevent Amazon from discounting their ebooks. Prior to these contracts, Big Five ebooks were discounted steeply at Amazon’s own expense. Our data from 2014 and early 2015 revealed that Amazon was on average selling Big Five and other traditionally-published ebooks to consumers at breakeven prices and making zero or marginal gross profit from them. That’s almost no profit on traditionally published ebooks, while Amazon was earning a healthy margin on the sale of indie and Amazon-imprint ebooks. In effect, prior to the Big Five’s return to agency, Amazon was more or less selling traditionally-published ebooks at cost. They were subsidizing traditional publisher ebook profits and traditionally-published ebook author earnings by nearly 30%.

By reinstituting agency ebook pricing and forcing their own consumer ebook prices high while preventing Amazon from discounting those ebooks, the Big Five publishers put a halt to that. They willingly did financial harm to their own bottom lines and in the process also seriously damaged the sales and earnings of their own authors, in an attempt to wrest market share and control away from their largest and most profitable retailer.

Did they succeed in that goal?

According to both our data and Amazon’s own public statements, despite the Big Five’s return to agency ebook pricing, Amazon’s overall US ebook sales have continued to grow throughout 2015 in both unit terms and dollar terms. On the other hand, the Big Five’s share of those ebook sales has plunged precipitously in both dollars terms, and even more precipitously in unit terms.

That particular outcome was easily predicted — and probably inevitable. Perhaps the Big Five viewed it as a strategic sacrifice.

But at the same time, Amazon’s online print sales — driven by steeply discounted hardcovers and paperbacks, which in many cases were priced even lower than the ebook editions — ALSO went up.Significantly. In fact, our data points toward Amazon seeing even greater growth in their 2015 print sales than in their 2015 ebook sales.

As of mid-January 2016, Amazon.com’s print sales were running at a rate of 969,000 print books a day.

With the largest bookstore chains reporting 2015 book sales as flat or down, and book sales also down significantly for warehouse and club outlets, an uptick in local independent bookstore sales is a small brick-and-mortar bright spot. But it’s extremely likely that most if not all of print’s reported 2015 “resurgence” took the form of increased online print sales… at Amazon.com.

We suspect that the Big Five’s high ebook agency pricing, and Amazon’s steeper online discounting of print books, may well have had the opposite of the intended effect. It may have encouraged traditional hardcover and paperback buyers — including those who had zero interest in buying digital editions — to take advantage of those steeper discounts and purchase more of their books online, while buying fewer in brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Some very savvy analysts who cover the industry from the traditional side, and whose insights *(4) we value greatly, have pointed out that this particular outcome may not necessarily have been unanticipated by the agency publishers. But they still may have deemed it the lesser evil, if in the process they could also slow the consumer shift from buying print to “e”.

But either way, if true, it means that more print-book buyers are now shopping at a storefront where indie print books share a significant portion of shelf space alongside books from traditional publishers, and where indie print books are now fast-approaching a double-digit percentage of print sales.

Link to the rest at Author Earnings

A couple of thoughts from PG:

1.  As he has noted before, Hugh and Data Guy are conservative in the way they treat Small or Medium Publisher numbers.

Quite a number of indie authors have created their own publishing imprints and list those imprint names on Amazon. Since Author Earnings doesn’t know if XYZ Publishing is a single author or a small press that publishes 25 authors, AE conservatively groups single author publishers with Small/Medium Publishers.

PG believes that the true numbers of indie authors are much higher because of the omission of indie imprints from the indie author categories.

To be clear, this is not a criticism of AE in any way, but a suggestion that indie authors are more dominant on Amazon than AE’s excellent data demonstrate.

2. As PG considered AE’s “250 high-powered 8-core servers” and the data analytics chops behind AE’s conclusions, he believes that these stats are substantially more sophisticated than a typical traditional publisher generates for its internal purposes.

The Truth Behind Bestseller Lists

8 February 2016

From Observer.com:

It’s been just eight years since I worked on my first book launch campaign, but since that time I’ve worked with hundreds of authors in just about every marketing capacity you can imagine. I’ve played the role of publicist, community organizer, web developer, social media expert, and on and on.

In my various roles, I’ve bumped into The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists many times.

I’ve helped launch two No. 1 New York Times bestsellers, and several top-five bestsellers. At one point, five of my clients had books on the NYT list at the same time. While I haven’t tracked The Wall Street Journal list as closely, I’ve had quite a few hits on that list as well.

. . . .

It’s true, bestseller lists are becoming obsolete. There are plenty of books that, despite never gracing the pages of WSJ or NYT, go on to sell thousands of copies, and have a great fanbase. However, the fact remains that having a New York Times or Wall Street Journal bestseller can greatly enhance your career.

Since the publishing industry still shows great deference to these lists, finding your name on them significantly impacts the advance on your next book contract.

If you’re a nonfiction author, and particularly if you write business books, bestseller lists mean more speaking gigs, higher consulting rates, higher visibility, and an enhanced reputation. They also mean more sales. If your book is a bestseller, it all of a sudden gets more copies on bookstore shelves and other promotions. It’s a self-feeding system.

Bestseller lists also mean more appearances in the media. NYT bestsellers get phone calls and emails from the media. And let’s face it: It matters because it’s pretty damn cool to be a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. But the bottom line, especially if you have anything to do with the traditional publishing industry, is this: WSJ or NYT bestseller = more money for authors, publishers and agents.

WHAT EXACTLY IS A BESTSELLING BOOK?

If you ask a typical person this question—someone who has never descended into the muck of the behind-the-scenes reality of the bestseller lists—they’ll of course answer something like, “It’s a book that has sold tens of thousands of copies,” or, “It’s the book that has sold the most copies.”

How naive.

. . . .

WSJ builds its list based on the sales figures it gets from Nielson’s BookScan. In general, if you sell the most books in a category as reported by BookScan, you will hit No. 1 in that category on The Wall Street Journal bestseller list. Makes sense, right? Except that BookScan doesn’t track all purchases. It doesn’t include sales made through some big-box stores, such as Walmart and Sam’s Club, which doesn’t affect most of us. However, it also doesn’t include sales from CreateSpace and other self-publishing platforms, which affects thousands of authors.

But overall, BookScan is the most accurate data source, and reports about 75 percent to 85 percent of book sales, depending on who you ask.

. . . .

A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, as the saying goes.

NYT keeps a tight lid on its process for selecting bestsellers. It is known that NYT samples its own list of certain booksellers across the country—though which ones make the cut are a tightly guarded secret—then look at the data with wise NYTbrains, and decide whom they think should be on the list.

It’s said that this is done to keep people from gaming the system, which is partially true. But it’s also done so that The New York Times can have a say about which books get the extra credibility of being named a bestseller.

I’m certainly not the only one who sees potential problems with this system.

Remember: NYT and WSJ list = more money.

So a small group of people look at highly selective data to decide whom they deem important enough to be called a “New York Times bestseller.” At this point, we’ve come pretty far from “the books that sell the most copies.” We’ve laid some groundwork, so now I can share the really weird stuff.

. . . .

A friend of mine has access to the weekly Nielson BookScan numbers—that organization that tracks 75 percent to 85 percent of book sales. Last year, he decided to go back and compare BookScan numbers to the NYT bestseller list to see if he could find anything interesting.

Since NYT does its own secret reporting and choosing, he wanted to see if he could find any signs of bias.

Here are two conclusions he gathered from his own personal research, comparing real BookScan sales figures to the books deemed by NYT staff to be bestsellers:

  1. If you happen to work for The New York Times and have a book out, your book is more likely to stay on the list longer and have a higher ranking than books not written by New York Times employees.
  2. If you happen to have written a conservative-political-leaning book, you’re more likely to be ranked lower and drop off the list faster than those books with a more liberal political slant.

And another point:

Why the separate lists for digital and print copies? 

From an author’s standpoint, this is maddening. I’ve been involved with book launches that have sold more than enough copies to hit the bestseller lists, but because the numbers were split between digital and print, they didn’t make it. How arcane, and antiquated. In what world does it make sense that it matters whether I buy the book in paper or in digital format? I still bought the book. I still thought it was worth the money. But for some reason, the NYT and WSJ lists think paper counts as a sale more than digital.

Arcane and antiquated are the only nice words that can be used here. Readers aren’t concerned about modality, so why are bestseller lists?

. . . .

I think we can all agree that while we want the bestseller lists to reflect the bestselling books, we don’t want people to be able to buy their way onto the lists either, right? So the bestseller lists try to put some checks and balances in place to make sure people can’t do this.

So what happens? Book launderers start popping up. And how does book laundering work?

Let me explain:

Step 1. Find a book laundering firm. There’s a handful of them out there. ResultSource is the most well-known.

Step 2. Write them a check to cover their fee. They don’t work for free, after all.

Step 3. Write them another check—for your books. This check is to buy copies of your book. It depends on the campaign, but it’ll always number in the thousands. We’re trying to hit the bestseller lists here, after all.

Step 4. The firm launders the sales. It hires people all over the country to buy books through various retailers one at a time, using different credit cards, shipping addresses and billing addresses. This allows the sales to go through and show up as individual sales, instead of bulk purchases. These sales then get reported to Nielson BookScan.

Step 5. Pop the champagne corks. You’re now a bestseller.

. . . .

The New York Times samples different stores across the country and weighs book sales based on where they are purchased.

What does this mean?

It means that a hardcover copy of your book purchased on Amazon.com is counted differently than the same hardcover book purchased at indie bookstore X.

Link to the rest at Observer.com and thanks to Barry for the tip.

A cheerful life

8 February 2016

A cheerful life is what the Muses love, A soaring spirit is their prime delight.

William Wordsworth

Anyone

8 February 2016

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.

Author Unknown

The Tiny London Shop Behind Some of the Very Best Libraries

8 February 2016

From The New York Times:

Let’s say you need some books. Maybe you have recently acquired a big fancy house, boat or plane with a big empty library, and you want to fill it with real books, not those things that look like books but are actually built-in fake book spines engraved with ornate titles.

One lazy solution would be to employ a decorator to acquire an aesthetically pleasing instant collection. Another would be to visit an estate sale and hoover up someone else’s, caveat emptor. Or you could do what the smartest bibliophiles do: Put yourself in the hands of the staff at the London bookstore Heywood Hill, who promise to go to the ends of the earth to hunt down the books you need — the rare, the old and the out of print as well as the newly published — to build your perfect custom library.

‘‘It’s not that we’re selling by the yard,’’ said the store manager, Nicky Dunne. ‘‘But if they’re interested in a subject’’ — 19th-century French topiary, Brutalist architecture, salmon husbandry or something more obscure — ‘‘and haven’t properly explored books on that subject, then they come to us.’’

When Dunne, 45, says ‘‘us,’’ he is referring to a lovely old Mayfair shop with a rich history. John le Carré set a scene there in his great novel ‘‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.’’ Real-life characters associated with the store include Heywood Hill himself, who opened it in 1936; his successor as manager, the delightfully named Handasyde Buchanan; Nancy Mitford, who worked there during World War II and filled it with her gossipy society friends and immortalized it, in her way, in the novel ‘‘The Pursuit of Love’’; and John Saumarez Smith, the deeply intellectual and beloved manager from 1974 until 2008.

. . . .

Requests are as varied as the world of books is wide. Dunne has kitted out a hotel, at least one cruise ship and a fleet of private jets. For the Bulgari hotel in London, Heywood Hill supplied about 3,000 books: volumes on business, travel, history, politics and the like for the boardrooms; fashion, art, design and fiction classics in the guest rooms.

Then there was the customer, a regular, whose wife had taken up marathon running in her 40s; he surprised her with a gift of 300 books on the subject of endurance. The topic had a pleasingly broad scope, comprising everything from a book about the founding of the Olympic Games in ancient Greece to a book on fell running (also known as mountain or hill running) in Cumbria. Another customer, an Englishman living in Switzerland who flies his own plane, wanted every available aviation memoir from the First and Second World Wars — about 1,000 books in all, Dunne said.

. . . .

The cost for such literary curation can run into the six figures, depending on the size of the library, but for people who don’t want or can’t afford to purchase complete libraries, the shop offers preselected ‘‘book boxes’’ of five to 10 volumes, intended mostly as gifts. They’re arranged by themes, some with help from friends of the store: Edmund de Waal’s ‘‘The Books That Made Me’’; A. A. Gill’s selection of cookery writing; Simon Berry’s starter library for the young wine connoisseur.

There’s also a program called A Year in Books, in which readers receive a book a month for a year. The customer pays a set fee — about $515 for hardcovers — and the store chooses the exact volumes after interviewing the recipient about their likes, dislikes and idiosyncratic interests. ‘‘We get attuned to our customers,’’ Dunne said. ‘‘These are human rhythms as opposed to algorithms.’’

. . . .

Heywood Hill’s customers hail from 60 countries (about a third of their customers are from the Unites States), and have been known to throw themselves entirely at the mercy of the staff, such as the ‘‘nice American lady’’ in the Hamptons who was renovating her house. ‘‘She said, ‘I’m sick of seeing the same glossy rubbish books in my friends’ houses; please send me some good books,’ ’’ Dunne recalled. She lucked out, receiving, among other non-glossy, non-rubbish selections, John Julius Norwich’s ‘‘Sicily’’; A. N. Wilson’s ‘‘Victoria: A Life’’; some volumes of philosophy by John Gray; ‘‘Hall of Mirrors,’’ Barry Eichengreen’s book about the Great Depression and the 2008 recession; and what Dunne referred to as ‘‘a nice chunk of fiction,’’ including works by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

Do people really want bookstores?

8 February 2016

From TeleRead:

Canadian book chain Indigo continues to buck the retail book trend and turn a profit.

But anecdotally, as someone who lives impulse-distance to at least two Indigo stores, I have to wonder if that’s really about the books. The one location boasts an American Girl sub-store, and the other has an impressive stationery section based upon a quarter of a floor’s worth of Moleskine products.

There is definitely a shrinking of retail space for books in our book chain these days! But what I am noticing simultaneously is an interesting little uptick in book shelf space elsewhere. At the art store I regularly visit, the coloring books have slowly been crowding out the space where the sale table used to be. It makes sense, actually. Art stores often keep sample items for customers to try before they buy. This would make them a superior destination over Indigo for the customer who actually wants to buy a coloring book.

. . . .

It has me wondering if in today’s era of information overload, where every interest possible can be well-represented, people even want a ‘book’ store anymore. Maybe they want a kid’s store (which happens to sell books) and an art store (which happens to sell books) and a sports store ;which happens to’ and so on.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

Publishing Should be More About Culture Than Book Sales

8 February 2016

From The Digital Reader:

It seems too obvious to point out that publishing is a cultural activity, not just a process for corporations to make money. That being said, we rarely talk or write about publishing without talking about money, about book sales.

That’s because, even though contemporary publishing has seen the emergence of diverse independent publishers and theself-publishing boom, it is still dominated by multinational corporations. And corporations are all about the numbers.

Most books are produced by one of the “big five” publishing multinationals (Penguin Random House, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster).

Katherine Bode of Australian National University puts this figure at 74% of books in Australia. These transnational corporations are, by their very nature, focused on the creation of profit rather than the creation of culture.

In fact, for some of those multinational corporations, books and writing aren’t even the largest part of their business.

HarperCollins and Hachette are both subsidiaries of media companies (News Corp and Lagardère respectively). Commercial or “traditional” publishing is not so much aimed at telling a story and hopefully making a profit but at making a profit by telling a story.

In this publishing climate culture is always subsumed to business. The book and its story or narrative are merely a vehicle to generate sales and as such are understood as a unit of exchange rather than as an artefact of expression and/ or meaning.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

Which are the most borrowed library books in the UK?

8 February 2016

From The Telegraph:

The importance of libraries to national literacy was underlined again today with the news that five children’s authors – Julia Donaldson, Daisy Meadows, Francesca Simon, Jacqueline Wilson and the collective who write under the pen name Adam Blade – are among the Top 10 most borrowed authors in UK libraries, according to figures from the latest annual data released today by Public Lending Right.

The survey, released on the eve of National Libraries Day, covers 2014-15 and shows again the dominance of thriller writer James Patterson, who topped the chart for the most borrowed author for the ninth year running, and crime writers such as Lee Child. It was also the first year that payments were made for audio books. Here are 10 things we learned from the findings:

1: JAMES PATTERSON IS LIBRARY KING

The man who has churned out more than 300 novels (or paid other writers to do so, having given them a “detailed outline”) released 15 books in 2014 alone. The popularity of his thriller novels remains undimmed. James Patterson is still the most borrowed author and has four books – Invisible, Unlucky 13, NYPD Red and Burn Century – in the top 20 most borrowed titles. He is also the author with the most appearances in the Top 100 most borrowed titles list, with 10. However, although overseas authors such as Patterson and Lee Child are included in the loans figures, they aren’t eligible for PLR payments. The 202 authors who receive the maximum capped £6,600 are all from the UK.

. . . .

6: LONDONERS ARE THE MOST COSMOPOLITAN READERS

Broken down by travel and holiday genre, the most borrowed book in the UK was Lonely Planet’s Italy by Cristian Bonetto. But it came top in only one region: London. Elsewhere, readers looked to their own locality. In Scotland the most borrowed was Edinburgh for Under Fives, edited by Cathy Tingle; in Wales it was Insufficiently Welsh, by Griff Rhys Jones; and in Yorkshire it was North York Moors & Yorkshire Wolds, by Mike Bagshaw.

7: BEATON IS BEST OF BRITISH

Mary Berry was the most burrowed non-fiction writer, but MC Beaton, author of the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth crime fiction books, is the most borrowed British author of books for adults, at number five. She has held this title for the last six years. MC Beaton said: “I am thrilled to bits to be the most borrowed British author in UK public libraries. Writing is a very isolating job and, as I am only human, PLR is a sort of lifeline to me from the general borrowing public. I thank them from the bottom of my inky heart.”

. . . .

9: FEMALE AUTHORS HAVE STAYING POWER

Despite having been dead since  1998, Catherine Cookson remains the UK’s most borrowed author over the past 20 years: her books have been borrowed over 32 million times between 1995 and 2015. Jacqueline Wilson is the UK’s most borrowed children’s author over the past 20 years: her books have been borrowed over 24 million times between 1995 and 2015.

Link to the rest at The Telegraph

First look at Amazon’s Treasure Truck: Getting a deal from Jeff Bezos’ ‘four-wheeled joy machine’

7 February 2016

From GeekWire:

My Saturday morning routine was interrupted with an alert from Amazon’s notoriously shy Treasure Truck, announcing their very first deal, a GoPro HERO4 Black for $179. That is a screamingly good price on a cool gadget that currently sells for $429 on Amazon, so a perfect opportunity to try the Treasure Truck on its debut. The process was easy and fun.

Wait a second, you may be asking — what the heck is the Treasure Truck? In short, it’s a delivery vehicle for deals, the latest move by Jeff Bezos & Co. to expand beyond their digital roots and into the physical world. The Treasure Truck finally launched in Seattle on Saturday, after an unexplained seven-month delay.

. . . .

Amazon says the Treasure Truck is like a “neighborhood ice cream truck” — a “four-wheeled joy machine” dishing out deals and bringing e-commerce into the mobile era, literally.

. . . .

Here’s how it works. First, to find the Treasure Truck, you have to be in Seattle, and you have to have the Amazon app installed on your phone. You can find it in the main menu of the app to see what’s on the truck today. You can also get alerts about the current deal. Today’s alert came promptly at 11AM.

You actually buy the item on your app, which then instructs you to visit the pickup location. Today the Treasure Truck was setup in a parking lot at the south end of Amazon’s South Lake Union campus. I was lucky that I ordered the GoPro right when I saw it, as the deal sold out in the first 45 minutes of the offer.

Parking lot attendants directed me to a parking spot next to the Treasure Truck which was setup next to a couple of white tents. The tents were staffed by cheery Amazon staffers in blaze orange Helly Hansen jackets toting Fire tablets.

. . . .

Pickup of my purchase was remarkably easy. Literally all I did was give them my name which they checked off the list on their tablet.

Link to the rest at GeekWire (including lots of Treasure Truck photos)

PG usually tries to avoid loading up on too many Amazon stories in a single day, but all too often, Amazon seems to be the only organization in the book business that does anything innovative or interesting.

Big Publishing announces a new idea every year or two. Adult coloring books was the most recent example.

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