Amazon (s AMZN) announced a new perk for Prime members on Friday: A program called “Kindle First” will let them read one upcoming Amazon Publishing ebook, from a choice of four, in advance of its official publication and for free each month.
Amazon Publishing editors choose the titles — here they are for November — and add “a note of recommendation and a behind-the-scenes look at the stories and the authors.” The program, which is U.S.-only, also gives non-Prime members the chance to read the book in advance for $1.99.
Again, the program is limited to books published by Amazon, so you are not likely to see well-known bestselling authors in Kindle First (not yet, anyway). But the idea is to give Amazon Publishing authors “a chance to reach a much wider audience,” Russ Grandinetti, VP of Kindle content, said in a statement. The program also doesn’t include titles self-published through KDP.
The November selections include one general fiction title by Deborah Reed, an inspirational title by Gloria Gaynor, a romance title by Connie Brockway and a mystery by J.R. Rain. The book by Reed, Things We Set on Fire, is listed as being published by an Amazon imprint called “Lake Union Publishing” — a new imprint that Amazon never announced officially and that is not included on Amazon Publishing’s website, though a Kindle Store search for the imprint turns up 24 titles, including some released this fall.
Kindle First is the latest in a host of publishing-related announcements that Amazon has made this week, following the news last Friday that Larry Kirshbaum, who oversaw Amazon’s New York and Seattle imprints, is leaving the company in January, along with a report that Amazon is scaling back its publishing presence in New York. Earlier this week, the company launched a “Kindle Countdown Deals” tool that lets authors whose books are exclusive to Amazon “provide readers with limited-time promotional discounts on Kindle-exclusive books,” and also announced “Day One,” a weekly “literary journal for the digital age.”