Amazon Launches E-Reader with Light Marketing Touch, Author Testimonials

True to character, Amazon is playing its cards close to its chest for its new Kindle e-reader’s marketing plan. Steve Kessel, the retailer’s VP of digital media, would only say the retailer’s launch plan for Kindle will largely avoid traditional advertising and focus instead on “creating a great customer experience and communicating that on the Web site.”

To that end, Amazon has created a product detail page with videos supporting the launch, including an introduction to Kindle from CEO Jeff Bezos and testimonials from major authors such as Toni Morrison and James Patterson. Additional videos include a six-minute product demo and a video drop test that shows the device withstanding 30-inch free falls of the sort it’s certain to sustain in airport terminals and train stations around the world.

“We don’t do a lot of print and other marketing,” Kessel told ClickZ on Monday. “What we wanted to do is put Kindle in the hands of people that we knew were lovers of books to get their reaction to it… Who better to test the experience than authors?”

Amazon approached numerous authors several months ago, inviting them to try out the device. It then returned to film them discussing their reaction to the product. Among the writers featured in videos for the product page are Lemony Snicket creator Daniel Handler, “Moneyball” author Michael Lewis, and novelist Neil Gaiman.

Search marketing support for the product so far appears limited to a Google placement with the copy: “The revolutionary wireless reading device from Amazon.” Searches for “Kindle” on Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft Live Search yesterday turned up generic ads for Amazon that didn’t seem geared toward the new product.

Kindle offers books, blogs and newspaper content for purchase and download over a wireless connection. It uses “electronic ink” technology designed to be easier on the eyes than an ordinary computer or handheld screen, and it eschews backlighting in order to make it readable in bright sunlight. Kindle users can shop for reading material on the device, choosing from approximately 90,000 books as well as “hundreds” of blogs, newspapers and magazines. Many new releases and best sellers are priced at $9.99. Book downloads take under a minute, according to Amazon, and happen wirelessly without the use of an Internet connection.

Amazon’s other on-site marketing for the device includes a homepage takeover in the form of a letter from Jeff Bezos, promotion through its search interface and appropriate links elsewhere on

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