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Our recent usability study of Amazon. It's the beauty of the Internet that it's an equal-opportunity publishing environment that allows everybody a voice. Many of the comments were of the nature "I own a Kindle Fire, and my experience matches Nielsen Norman Group's research. There were also the usual enemies of usability whose profanity-laced jeering of anything posted by me or other serious user researchers is rather old hat.

I ignore these people. If empirical facts don't convince them, then nothing I can add will do the trick. Let them eat cake and spend their time in mutual admiration of pretty but useless sites. However some comments were more substantial disagreements with our research and deserve a rebuttal.

No doubt true. Of course, promises of better things to come is a strong argument for holding off on any purchase until these updates have actually been made and we know whether they fixed the usability problems or not. The day after I posted my original column, I got an email from Google saying that they had already changed their page design, when served to Kindle Fire users, to overcome many of the usability problems I pointed out. To which I can only say, "good work, Google guys.

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Thus, if we reran our study now, we would already expect the outcome to be slightly better, to the extent that it's now easier to use an external search engine. Assuming that users use Google, but most do. We don't point them to any specific search engine but sit back and watch where people go on their own initiative. Google is the world's wealthiest website and has many good UX people and strong developers on board who can make appropriate UI changes fast.

Most websites will be slower. Also, as pointed out in my analysis, the economic case will not be there for a broader range of sites to adapt their design to 7-inch tablets unless this platform becomes incredibly popular. The total user experience for a platform is comprised of both its native UI and of the design of content and services projected onto the device. Thus, if most sites are slow to change, the Kindle Fire web experience will also only improve slowly. Kindle Fire feels like a product that was rushed into production.

A few extra months of usability studies, iterative design, and more sophisticated programming would have worked wonders that are hopefully going to ship later. I understand why Amazon might want to ship a poor product in late November rather than a good product in February : they want to catch the holiday shopping season. Whether the extra sales are worth the brand damage from a low-quality user experience is difficult to judge. When writing articles, I luckily don't have to face the tradeoff between earlier sales and a better product.

I simply reveal what the usability studies tell us. My job is to tell the truth, not to manage product development. A consulting project is very different from writing a website column: when advising clients, one does have to get into the inevitable tradeoffs of any development project. In a case like Kindle Fire, the biggest boy Amazon. Amazon may have had its reasons; it may be able to make its money back; it may have improvements planned. None of these points make the original Fire design worth copying for companies in less privileged circumstances.


Cheap products are definitely needed in order to reach a broad audience. I simply don't think that poor people should get shoddy products. Of course, they can't expect luxury at a cutthroat price, but they should get a certain base level of quality at any price. As an analogy, if you want a cheap hotel room in Tokyo, it'll be tiny, the location won't be right in the Ginza, the staff will have very limited English proficiency, and there may be nothing but raw fish served for breakfast. Great comment Graeme — I agree with a lot of what you wrote and was about to write a similar comment, especially about the smaller niches.

In the first month I did five figures, although that may have a lot to do with the next few months being the most popular time men propose. Writing an ebook is really the easiest part. Promoting and marketing your ebook is what will make the difference between a success or not. You get instant credibility this way and reach far more people than trying to build up a fan base through your blog. However, in order to do this you have to learn how to think like a journalist, pitch stories that are newsworthy and tied into current events.

Again, great post and resources and best of luck to all of you! You can only 3 reviews for the book and claim to make 5 figures in the first month. Thanks for your insightful reply. Any ideas for where to start looking for niches too small for traditional publishers?

Thank you for this in-depth analysis. I have been thinking about releasing non-fiction e-books for kindle, but there has always been consideration in the back of my mind if I should go through traditional route first. I have not made up my mind yet either way, but information like this certainly helps. There are so many different opinions, so much to know and learn about the industry — but each case is different, and I guess we will all have our individual failures and successes. This article is PERF. It dovetails nicely with the recent Hugh Howey article on Salon.

One for inspiration, the other for execution. Please do post more like this! Tim, this is perfect.

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Goal is to have first book, Tales of Iceland, on Amazon in 2 weeks. Also, most of the world is still way behind the US in ebook adoption. Even in Iceland where they read more books per capita than any other citizenry in the world , ebooks are still rare…but growing. So the good news is that as other countries catch up, the potential market will continue to grow. Thanks again. More like this, please! I think the most impressive stats is that digital sales just surpassed printed — This is extremely valuable info. Absolutely would consider doing digital-only. Thanks so much for this!

You have been my mentor and friend in my head!

I just finished my kindle ebook and I am working on creating an app talk about synchronicity! This is very helpful!

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I love U! This is where I plan to go financially. Thanks for an amazing post. I was getting doubtful for a little bit, if I had taken a mistake for taking the summer term off.

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But as a student, I have very little to lose. Thank you. But, alas, how in the heck am I supposed to take notes on such a great post, when the whole damn thing is worth noting?! Love it! I wrote a book some years ago about my time in the music business, and how to get a gig in that world — I hired a design student to lay it out for me using Adobe PageMaker, and he also did the cover.

I also sell it on Kindle, which is insanely simple. Great article but I am certain that the Stephen King, JK Rowling, and Stephenie Meyer did not make it big because they were mercenary about following pop culture trends and finding market niches. You will find it easier to write.