Yesterday's New York Times had an article entitled "A Chance to Meet the Author Online" about a new promotional tool over at Amazon called Amazon Connect.
Amazon began the new program in late November "to enhance the connections between authors and their fans -- and to sell more books -- with author blogs and extended personal profile pages on the company's online bookstore site. So far, Amazon has recruited a group of about a dozen authors, including novelists, writers of child care manuals and experts on subjects as diverse as real estate investing, science, fishing and the lyrics of the Grateful Dead."
I started out by doing a search on the Amazon website for Amazon Connect without success. My search took me straight to the "Publishers and Authors" section where I was invited to sign up as an author. It took about fifteen minutes for me to figure out that the blogs are listed with each individual book/author, not in a centralized location.
The Times article indicated that "Amazon is one of the many players in the publishing business trying to find new ways to increase the visibility of authors at a time when book sales are flat and other forms of entertainment are commanding ever-greater portions of the public's wallet. Most publishers have extensive author information on their Web sites, and a number of authors maintain their own sites, some quite elaborate."
The Amazon effort is strictly one-way with no accommodation for comments from readers. In addition--while most writers' blogs are soft-sell--by not centralizing the blogs, Amazon is clearly tying the reading of the blog to the buying of the specific book that a reader is considering.
It will be interesting to see how this concept works out for Amazon. I think I would have preferred a centralized site where I could browse among numerous authors at one sitting. Of course, most writers these days have websites and blogs of their own already. Depending on how the authors use the Amazon Connect program, it might develop into a tool with comments directed only at the specific book for sale.