Waiting for the pundits to vote on Amazon's new 'Kindle Scout'

From cute Amazon Kindle Scout introductory video.
From cute Amazon Kindle Scout introductory video.

The name of the new programme rolled out, it seems, at 3:01 a.m. Eastern time in the United States today by Amazon is “Kindle Scout.And the way to understand that name is to think like a reader: Amazon is inviting you to be a “scout” for something called “Kindle Press.” My colleague Sarah Shaffi at The Bookseller has the basic report for you.

Kindle Press is not an Amazon Publishing (APub) imprint. It appears to be a name for the production process that will be applied to a book accepted for publication in the new Kindle Scout programme.

And any author who is contemplating participation in the Kindle Scout initiative from Seattle will do well to remember that most of the material online about the new development — liveried with brightly colored cartoons — is customer-facing.

From KindleScoutAmazon.comIndeed, make that reader-facing, “to be PC about it,” as our colleague Marcello Vena quipped Saturday in Frankfurt. It was one of Vena’s better moments in a Master Class I produced there with him and Orna Ross of the Alliance of Independent Authors: he posited that it now is politically correct in publishing to refer to our customers as “readers.”

And for those readers, Amazon has produced an infinitely cute video you’ll find here with good-time looping music. Can we do nothing without a cute video anymore? This one, deploying that omnipresent commercial millennial voice that seems to be on all such productions, reveals the real secret of Kindle Scout at 0:52 in the tape:

Continue to champion the books of the authors you help bring to light — by leaving reviews and sharing with friends.

Get it? Don’t just pick a book you like. Help sell it.

What Amazon is doing here is capitalising on the secondary element of crowdsourcing, the apparently automatic bond. As crowdfunding enthusiasts can tell you, when a backer makes a donation, he or she tends to bond with the project in question.

In several panel appearances I’ve moderated, Amanda and Hellen Barbara of Pubslush have been quick to mention this crowd-support element as being virtually as valuable as monetary contributions to a book’s campaign. When things go well, they’ll tell you, a project comes out not only with money but also with fans.

Amazon’s Kindle Scout is not crowdfunding. “Scouts” are not asked for money. But it’s building on the fandom that seems to be inherent in the crowdsourcing phenomenon. You, as the reader-“scout” in the programme, become an advocate for the books you’ve chosen, part of that work’s street team to help sell, sell, sell that book when Kindle Press produces it.

The next great story? Is in your hands. Be a Kindle Scout and help us welcome the next generation of Kindle talent.

This is buy-in. The readers are buying into their supposed role. The future of the next great story is in their hands!

Now, in actuality, the votes of eager Kindle-Scout readers earnestly labouring to bring us the next great story may not weigh in a book’s favour — or against it. A book will have 30 days “to impress as many readers as possible.” The carefully written video script says that after 30 days, the votes from Kindle Scouts for a book “will be tallied.” It does not say that the tally will, in fact, govern whether a book is published. Indeed, it does not say that the tally of votes for a book will be announced.

Here’s a helpful bit of information from the FAQ:

Nominations give us an idea of which books readers think are great; the rest is up to the Kindle Scout team who then reviews books for potential publication.

So, no, the keys to the kingdom are not actually being handed to the readers. And, having met The Crowd personally, myself, I consider this to be good news.

The quick look

From KindleScoutAmazon.comI like this set of “basics” about the programme from Amazon’s highly informative pages on the approach. If you’re not up on what we’re talking about, here are the fundamental factors in Kindle Scouting:

  • A book is a new, never-before-published work that you’d like to see get published.
  • An author is the person who has written and submitted a book to Kindle Scout.
  • Readers scout the site and nominate books they want to see published.
  • Nominations are how readers show support for a book. Readers can nominate up to three books at a time.
  • A campaign is a 30-day scouting period during which readers nominate books to be published.
  • The Kindle Scout team makes the final call on which books are published by Kindle Press.
  • Kindle Press publishes the books discovered through Kindle Scout.

By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson

The FutureBook: Waiting for the Pundits To Vote on Amazon’s New ‘Kindle Scout’

Read the full post at: TheBookseller.com/futurebook


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