Should Amazon do “On Deck” for books?

Should Amazon do “On Deck” for books?

Have you found yourself unexpectedly on a trip and realize you didn’t download a book to read to your Kindle?

Nah, probably not…if you are like most people, you probably have more than 100 on there. 😉

However, you might not have one you particularly want to read.

Amazon recognizes that need for videos, and in a recent

software update for 5th generation Fire tablets (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

those devices got a feature called “On Deck”. The Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*) and the original Fire TV have already had something like it.

It downloads a video for you…something it thinks you might want to watch, like the next episode in a series you are watching.

I think this might work very well for books…after all, we read lots of series of books, too. 🙂

The obvious place to do it would be with

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

Based on what you are reading now, Amazon could download another book to your device before you finish, so it’s ready to go. The next book in a series is obvious, but it could also do one based on the same author or the same topic.

You wouldn’t be charged for it…if I was Amazon, I’d make an “On Deck” book not count against your ten borrows at a time you can have from KU.

You’d get one book at a time…if you chose not to read it (indicated by you starting another book), it could be replaced…again, automatically.

You could “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” the choices, but that’s not really necessary…if you read it, it’s a sign they made a good choice.

It also wouldn’t need to cost Amazon much at all. With KU books, the publisher doesn’t get paid the whole royalty just because it is downloaded…it’s based on what you read.

Yep, I think this could be great for many people, including publishers!

Naturally, I would want you to have the option to opt out of it. There are some people who really load up their Kindles, and others where connecting to the network can be an issue.

For people who don’t have KU, it’s trickier.

Amazon could still do it…downloading a free book for you based on what you are reading. However, that could have royalty implications.

No, it’s probably best as an inducement to get people to do KU…at least initially.

Another option would be to let you pre-authorize purchases. You could agree to purchase the next book in a series whenever it is released, or the next book from an author. I think that’s riskier, though…especially the author one. Authors sometimes write books which don’t really match up with the other books…and they might choose to follow a super successful book with a riskier one.

Still, I hope Amazon considers the idea! It helps Amazon and the publishers with discovery and predictability. It helps readers, again with discovery and with convenience.

What do you think? Does it sound like a good idea? Am I missing some reason you wouldn’t like it? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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* 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

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.


10 Responses to “Should Amazon do “On Deck” for books?”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I’m not a fan of KU for a variety of reasons. I want permanent ownership of my eBooks, and I don’t like the “pool” payment to authors — in the larger sense of the transformations ongoing in the publishing industry, I think the “pool” idea short changes authors.

    Every eBook I buy is downloaded to my kindle automatically. If Amazon wanted to download the next in a series (but not other books from the same author or similar authors/genres), I could live with that. But I’d like a positive notice that it had been done with an option to decline the book, in which case Amazon could remove the book. If I accept, that would start a payment process, which for me could be pretty quick using my stored payment method.

    Other than the “next in series” case, I would find the “On Deck” idea to actually be offensive, unless I could in some way opt out of the whole idea.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I want both: permanent ownership and borrowing. 😉 I mix them up. As to the pool payments…there are a lot of varieties of that, and I think some of them can work well for some authors. Nothing works well for everybody, unfortunately. The traditional royalty system, especially with advances, meant that many people got nothing…

      We agree on the ability to opt out of an On Deck plan, and I do think it would work best for KU. I think there are a lot of possibilities: what if you could buy several books in a series at a group discount, and all it did was download the appropriate next one, for which you had already paid?

    • Allie Says:

      “I don’t like the “pool” payment to authors”

      Edward, I am with you on that one.
      If I borrow a KU book but don’t immediately start reading it, I’d skip ahead in the book and thus give the writer credit.
      Is it ideal? No. Is it a pain in the neck? Yeah. But it’s the best I’ve come up with, so far.

      As for ethics… does this count as “lying” to Amazon? Not really. I don’t think it is unethical; I think it’s a fair way to work within the system Amazon has set up.
      This is my very own personal opinion, of course.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Allie!

        Just so you know, skipping ahead isn’t going to give the publisher credit…Amazon has indicated it isn’t based on where you are in the book, but “pages turned”, in a sense. They set it up to try to make it more representative of people’s actual interest.

        Some authors like the pool method…some don’t. Others like it for some books, but not for others. For me, I don’t think it is a blanket good or a blanket evil…

  2. Man in the Middle Says:

    The flaw I see for non-KU books is that the first book in a series often costs less than later ones, sometimes a LOT less. So I would not want to pre-authorize later books in a series unless I could be sure they cost no more than the one I’d already bought.

    I did just finish a KU book I’d like in my permanent library: The Hidden Truth, by Hans G. Schnoz, kind of an Ayn Rand meets Dan Brown coming of age thriller, currently selling for $3.99. I try to limit purchases over $3, so set an eReaderIQ alert for any time it goes on sale. I was interested that the author made writing additional books in the series (up to 12) contingent on his selling enough of this one to make writing the others worthwhile. Given that it’s one of only six books I’ve read so far this year that I consider excellent, and most of his Amazon reviews agree, I suspect he’d best be getting started on the next book.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      Yes, it wouldn’t work a well for non-KU. I don’t think you could ever get a guarantee that later books in a series will be the same price as the first book. Some series have lasted for decades, and that’s not going to happen there, for example. I just put The Hidden Truth by Hans G. Schantz on my KU list…thanks!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      I did want to say, there is no question this works best for KU…

    • AetherCzar Says:

      Thanks for the kind words about my book, The Hidden Truth. Sales have been modest, but the feedback I’ve received is strongly favorable: about 4.9/5.0 stars after 17 reviews. I’m still outlining the sequel, A Rambling Wreck, trying to figure out a couple of sticky plot points before I start writing. I anticipate starting work in the fall, aiming for a release around May-June 2017. I’ll be providing additional updates on my blog at I hope you’ll continue to share your opinion online, in reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and elsewhere to help me attract more readers.

      As an author, I have a strongly positive opinion of Kindle Unlimited. Since I’m a first-time author (at least in the science fiction genre), making my book available through Kindle Unlimited means folks can take a chance on my book without being out any additional cash if they decide they don’t like it. That lowers the barriers to folks reading my book. KU pool rates have been running around $0.005/word. The KU payment for a read-through is about the same as I’d make if you paid the $3.99 outright for my book. I actually prefer readers to use KU instead of an outright Kindle ebook purchase, because I anticipate many readers will want to read my book more than once. I think you’ll find there’s a lot of detail in my book that makes more sense when you read it through the second time. I’ll get paid again every time you reread it.

      I haven’t really figured my series pricing yet, but it is typical to price the initial volume of a series low or even free to hook a reader, then price later installments somewhat higher.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, AetherCzar!

        I really appreciate your feedback on KU! KU works for a lot of people, although it isn’t going to be the best option for every author. I think a lot of readers see it as a takeaway, but there’s a new dynamic for new authors.

  3. Allie D. Says:

    It could help people who find themselves at a loss when they are between books –
    That uncomfortable state is described here:

    I’m generally in the middle of a bunch of books at the same time..
    but I still like the idea of finishing one book to automatically be replaced with another.

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