RealTime IT News

Amazon Turns a New Page

By David Ian Miller

You loved the book. Now read the blog.

That's the idea behind Amazon Connect, a new feature on Amazon.com that lets authors communicate with their readers with regular postings on whatever topic interests them.

The company hopes that reading these dispatches from their favorite authors will increase reader loyalty and sell more books.

Amazon says its signed up more than 1,000 authors in the program, including James Patterson, Meg Wolitzer and Anita Diamant, according to a company statement. Amazon was not immediately available for comment.

Recent postings by authors include information about upcoming events, reading recommendations, thoughts on the writing process and tips for aspiring writers. Promotional posts are not allowed.

Like Amazon's popular reader reviews, the posts on Amazon Connect go up immediately without editorial supervision.

Site visitors must sign up to view the blogs. However, posts will appear automatically to those who have already bought an author's work in the past.

At this point, the communication is only one-way. Readers will not be able to respond to what they read.

Amazon Connect is the latest in a series of attempts by Amazon to roll out new content and features for customers in a bid to stimulate more sales.

Amazon recently partered with Santa Clara, Calif.-based SideStep Inc. to revamp its price comparison engine for booking travel arrangements for hotels and airline trips.

Last month, it announced a new webcast called "Amazon Fishbowl with Bill Maher" -- a weekly original series that will stream live every Thursday night on the Amazon.com homepage beginning June 1.

The 30-minute program features live musical performances and interviews with authors, directors and actors.

In other news, Amazon said Thursday that its net profit fell 43 percent in the fourth quarter. Net income declined to $199 million, or 47 cents a share, from $347 million, or 82 cents, a year earlier.