Why free Kindle e-books are like a slot machine
December 31, 2011 | 3:15 pm
With about a zillion people getting Kindles for Christmas, they’re going to be wanting something to read, and not necessarily for a lot of money, either. I spotted a couple of articles highlighting some of the best works available to read for free on Kindles. One of them offers an intriguing theory on why Amazon’s quality control may be so random.
The UK blog PC Pro lists a number of these works, split about evenly between public-domain works and newer titles. I’m not sure whether all of them are available in the US version of the store, international rights being what they are, but it is at least a starting point.
On Kindle Review, blogger switch11 lists well over twenty works for free (and one for $1.49), linking directly to them with what appears to be an affiliate link (undoubtedly hoping that readers will buy some paid works while they’re browsing, having arrived on Amazon by one of the free links on the site).
The article also notes that Amazon seems to shuffle around its free offerings at random, and suggests that this is to take advantage of the slot machine “reward + unpredictability” effect—offering random rewards (of variable quality) entices people to spend more time on the site and possibly buy more. It even suggests Amazon intentionally skimps on quality control to make the good stuff stand out more.
Chances are – people would get tired of free kindle books if it was a guaranteed amount of good free kindle books per day. The terrible stuff makes the good stuff more appreciated. The working hard to scan through books make readers appreciate the books they do find to their tastes more. If you took 10 minutes to find a 4-star rated Science Fiction novel, then that’s going to seem more of a find than something in your email inbox that took you 5 seconds.
You know, I think switch11 may be onto something there.
As a reminder, we’ve got our own Amazon affiliate deals in the column on the right-hand side of the screen. If you’re planning to go to Amazon to buy something anyway, why not click through and then search for your item? It won’t cost you anything, and will help support the site.