Amazon Hosting Author Blogs

Adding to its user-generated content, Amazon.com has launched a program to allow authors to blog on the Amazon.com site.

The Amazon Connect program, in beta for the past month, aims to increase the engagement between readers and authors, and between readers and Amazon.com. It provides authors with a channel to market new products to consumers who bought their books in the past, and gives them a reason to visit Amazon.com.

“This is a very smart move by Amazon. By asking authors to blog, Amazon is encouraging a dialogue with customers without having to invest any extra effort themselves. It’s the online equivalent of an author book signing,” Andy Beal, president and CEO of search and blog marketing firm Fortune Interactive, told ClickZ News.

In the Amazon Connect FAQ, authors are urged to observe “dinner party” etiquette. “Strive to participate in tasteful ‘conversation’ with your readers using thoughtful, interesting and amusing dialogue while avoiding profanity, excessive negativity or insulting comments,” it says.

The most recent posts from an author’s blog will be featured prominently on an author’s profile page or on a book’s description page, along with a link to the author’s full blog. In addition, users will see new posts from authors of books they’ve purchased on their Amazon home page.

So far, the program doesn’t allow readers to comment on blog posts, or to subscribe to blogs via RSS feed. That’s a missed opportunity, according to Beal. “Popular blogs have two things in common: RSS feeds and readers’ comments. If Amazon’s author blogs are to become popular, they need to embrace RSS feeds for each author and allow customers to add comments to posts.”

Another opportunity that Beal thinks Amazon could take advantage of with RSS feeds would be to use a feed to deliver personalized recommendations to users. “Can you imagine how powerful it would be to include personalized RSS ads that read ‘other fans of this author also bought…’ fill in the blank?” he said.

Amazon.com has experimented with user-generated content before. Last year, it began allowing users to upload pictures related to products. It also reportedly began testing product wiki pages last month, on which consumers could add or edit information about a book or product in the manner of wikipedia. The company also began letting users tag products with descriptive keywords viewable by anyone.

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