Advice for Amazon #1

Advice for Amazon #1

I have no doubt that Amazon could give me some good advice. 🙂

However, I also think that they benefit by considering all sorts of ideas. That’s why I have had an

Advice to Amazon

category on this blog.

They also have an e-mail address you can use to send feedback to them:

However, I thought it might be worthwhile to take a post, from time to time, to just give them some ideas. If they use them, great…if not, I understand. 🙂 I do think some folks at Amazon read this blog, although I don’t think I have any particular influence with them.

If you like any of these, you are welcome to send them to Amazon as well (in your own words, of course) at the above address.

Suggested feature: Speed-reading display

While I had heard about


I was surprised to see the passion behind the desire to have it on the Kindle shown in this

Amazon Kindle forum thread (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

The basic idea is that you see one word at a time on a screen and it changes very rapidly.

They claim that you could read (and comprehend) 1,000 words a minute this way (as opposed to a more typical 250 wpm).

You can try it yourself on their site (linked above).

I think most people find that they can certainly read it at 500 wpm…I’m not sure what studies there have been for long term retention.


The Weekly Wonk article by Annie Murphy Paul

challenges the value of Spritz.

Regardless, I think the demand is there.

Let me say first that this would not currently work on non-Fire Kindles. Not just because you couldn’t install it, but because the refresh speed on the screen technology just isn’t fast enough.

You could, though, do it on a Fire.

I’m proposing that Amazon have it as an option on the Fire.

Why not just have the app in the store?

I assume the app wouldn’t work with a Kindle store book (DRM…Digital Rights Management and all that). Amazon would have to license it, or in some other legal way get an equivalent tech, and have it work with Kindle store books.

I don’t think they would need the publishers’ permission: they wouldn’t be changing the file, just the display, as I understand it.

One would also think that publishers would want people to be able to read their books more quickly (so the customer wants another book sooner), but they are hard to predict. Text-to-speech also considerably speeds up consumption of a book (since you can listen in the car), but some publishers take steps to block that in some books.

Suggested feature: Daltonizer

I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it could be a killer app for a certain segment of the population, and would be seen as being community minded.

Again, this would be for the Fire, since it requires color.

There are apps (I have one one my phone) that can shift colors to make them easier for people with color vision deficiency (I have some) to see them.

You’d be surprised how many people that is!

It’s not uncommon that I’ll get an e-mail saying, “We’re doing the green ones, we aren’t doing the red ones, we might do the black ones,” and I can’t tell which is which.

There are also cases where I can’t read the lettering in an Excel cell or on a PowerPoint slide because of the font/fill color combination.

Amazon could include a “Daltonizer” color changer on the Fire. Again, I don’t think any publisher permission would be required. You simply identify your deficiency to the device (the app could test you, if you didn’t know), and it color shifts the display for you.

That would make the decision for some people as to which device to get, and would likely be well-received by some disability advocates.

Suggested strategy: discounts for you

Safeway, the grocery store we used, recently updated their app so it really works for us, and Amazon could do something similar.

The idea is this: you get personalized coupons.

Sure, you see the other coupons, too, but what if you saw something like this?

“10% off the new Janet Evanovich book…you’ve purchased that author’s books in the past”

You would want it to look like it was special for you…different coupons for different people. Obviously, there would be more than one Janet Evanovich fan, but you get the idea.

The price for most people might be $9.99…but you get it for $8.99.

By making the coupons last for a limited time (that’s what Safeway does), Amazon could impact the sales pattern of books.

Publishers might particularly like this. It wouldn’t change the apparent price of the book in the market (they don’t like that…bad comparison for paperbooks), but would encourage purchasing. It could even “manipulate” getting something on the bestseller list.

In fact, that’s one way to go! Amazon could make this a deal with publishers using their Kindle Direct Publishing (like me). The publisher could elect to let Amazon discount the book only for prior purchasers for a certain amount of time.

Amazon could tie that into the KDP Select program…only valid while the book is exclusive to Amazon, perhaps.

This would allow Amazon to really leverage their data.

Would it make customers more loyal?

You betcha!

They could use this not just with authors, but with things like genres. That could encourage you to buy, say, an alternate history book from a different author and/or publisher…and Amazon could get a deal from the publisher for that reason (sort of advertising supported).

I really think this would work!

They could also let you put it on a Wishlist (Safeway lets you put the discount on your card), and make that public…again, with the discount for, perhaps, a limited time.

I think this would be an excellent use of big data by Amazon, and exactly a way to swing purchasers to tighten the bond.

I’m always curious what you think, though, so as part of this feature, I’m going to include a poll:

If you have additional suggestions, or comments on these, feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.


Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle. Last weekend to recommend one of the current nominees to get the Kindle!


* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

8 Responses to “Advice for Amazon #1”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    None of your ideas excite me, but that doesn’t mean that they might not have value for many — just not me. 🙂

    There was an article in the WSJ a few days ago about speed reading:

    My take away is that comprehension seriously degrades as speed goes up. OTOH the firehose of info that many of us have to deal with on a daily basis might find speed reading useful as a way of doing a preliminary screen on the firehose.

    With 5 kindles on a single account, my biggest wish is for vastly improved device and account management capabilities on the MYK pages. Not sure how that plays into their business model, however.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      That’s fine…I’m not excited about the Facebook integration with the Kindles…but I’m happy some people are. 🙂

      I absolutely agree that speed reading could be used in conjunction with standard reading. As you put it, speed reading could be for screening…and then you slow down for certain types of material or use cases.

      Cloud Collections have helped a lot for me on managing material, but MYK is still a weak point. We know they are working on it, though, having recently tried something and then pulled it back.

  2. Judy Schechter Says:

    Hi Bufo, thanks for the link to Amazon feedback. I suggested a way to bulk select/delete emails instead of having to tap each email one at a time. Ridiculous, especially when I have hundreds of Spam emails! Amazon actually responded to my message, albeit with a form letter, but it’s nice to be heard.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Judy!

      I assume you are using a Kindle Fire? I think they only keep 200 e-mails at a time in the standard app, so I don’t find I delete a lot there. Also, I believe that if you delete it on the Fire, it doesn’t delete it on the server, so there hasn’t been much point to it. I haven’t tested those on my HDX, but I will.

      That’s in the app they provide. You might consider another app, of course.

      Still, I think your suggestion makes sense! 🙂

  3. Tom Semple Says:

    You might recall Amazon bought Stanza, who did ePub reading apps. The desktop app had a RSVP (rapid serial visual presentation) reading mode, where sentences scrolled right-to-left at a user controlled rate.

    I actually think it could be done on Eink kindle. Only a small segment of the screen would need to be refreshed (something the size of a quarter). But practically it would probably drain battery

    There are a number of RSVP apps that long predate Spritz (reading ePub, txt, pdf files). I’ve tried a few of these but I think the idea needs refinement (needs to be more context sensitive, e.g. pause at end of sentence, paragraph etc rather than plowing through at constant rate). But it seems kind of a fringe thing. It would be interesting to see it integrated into a mainstream reading app like Kindle, but I don’t think many people would actually find use for it.

    Personally I would rather have a scrolling mode (with option to auto-scroll at user controlled rate). This would improve flow of books with lots of subheadings, images etc which in ‘page mode’ result in lots of white space, split captions from the pictures they describe, create ‘orphan’ headings etc. There used to be a reading app for iOS that let you control scroll rate by tilting the screen, which was pretty cool as this let you read without touching the screen.

    In terms of accessibility of color, ideally it would be a system level feature. Windows and OS X have ‘high contrast’ modes and such, iOS has ‘invert colors’ mode, but seems there is more work to be done with this. I would imagine it is a bit complex due to the variety of color vision deficiencies to address.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      I didn’t realize Stanza did that…thanks for the info!

      Scrolling mode would be interesting: I see that suggested pretty often on the forums.

      Yes, the Daltonizer would need to be system level. The app I have does, I think, the three most common…but you can “dial” different things if you need them.

  4. The new feature I most want to try on Fire tablets | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Advice for Amazon #1 […]

  5. Advice to Amazon #2 | I Love My Kindle Says:

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