Amazon displays how NOT to promote a new service

This morning, emailed me (and I assume a gazillion other participants in its affiliate program) a promotion to check out its “Your Video Widget” service that includes a feature like the new “annotation tool” on YouTube. But with Amazon, the creator of the video can annotate the video with links to products on Amazon. If the viewer clicks through and purchases the item, the video creator will receive a commission. While I’ve never had much luck with affiliate revenues (on other sites, not here), it sounds like a great idea for review-intensive content sites.

But here’s the problem. When I clicked through to learn about the new service, the “demo” version of the new feature would not allow me to see the featured products. In other words, the feature being demo’d didn’t work on the demo. All I got was a video with a message that looked like this:

Not a good way to launch a feature, Amazon.

How to hype a book into being a best-selling. Rule #1 – Start with a wonderfully-written book that includes dogs

I learned about The Story of Edgar Sawtelle the old fashioned way – newspaper book reviews.

According to an article in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, I, along with thousands more, have been “hyped” into buying and reading the just-published book, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, the debut novel by David Wroblewski. According to the Wall Street Journal “marketing” story, “Driving (the book’s) unexpectedly heavy demand has been strong reviews and promotional support from”

I confess, I didn’t know I was being caught up in some promotional scheme when I purchased the book. Despite their reported promotional support, didn’t even recommend it to me. And I didn’t read about the book on any blogs, nor have I been targeted by anything remotely viral or word-of-mouth. (And I get targeted by those often — and I rarely blog about anything that I discover that way.)

This book hit my radar the good old fashioned way: I purchased it because of last Sunday’s Janet Maslin New York Times review that is filled with love-notes like this: “Pick up this book and expect to feel very, very reluctant to put it down.” When I read that review a week ago, I did a Google search and clicked over to and read something similar: “The dog days of summer are nigh, and here is a big-hearted novel you can fall into, get lost in and finally emerge from reluctantly, a little surprised that the real world went on spinning while you were absorbed.”

I will note this, however. Despite me not being “hyped” into purchasing the book, technology played a role in my purchase. Had I not had a Kindle next to me when I read the review, I would have probably forgotten about the book until next time I was in a book store — and by then, I likely would have forgotten the title. And with a Kindle, it was a $10 item, not a $16-$25 item.

As for the novel itself, I am hesitant to provide a review of a book I’m only half-way through, but this is my half-time report: I’m very, very reluctant to put it down and I have found it to be a big-hearted novel that I have fallen into, got lost in and will be reluctant to finally emerge from.*

So far, it is wonderful. Especially if you’re a dog person. (When I finish the book, I will note it on this post.)

*Yes, that is plagiarism.