Amazon sells its first book, Fluid Concepts & Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought by Douglass Hofstadter to customer John Wainright. Bezos on why the company decided to focus on selling books:
We had to first focus on the book business and grow that until we were comfortable with it.
Amazon files with security regulators to sell 2.5 million shares in its first public offering, according to the Security and Exchange Commission. The company expects to sell shares at $13 each, which values the company at $299 million.
Amazon buys Junglee Corporation and Planet All. The combined purchases will allow the online bookseller to go beyond books and compact discs to sell computer hardware and apparel on its retail website. Bezos:
We’re at an inflection point where we are now looking at a broader range of products.
Amazon has 3.1 million customers and made $203 million dollars already this fiscal term.
Amazon leases a highly mechanized warehouse in Fernely, thirty miles east of Reno, Nevada. The move reflects the company’s commitment to fulfill its 7.5 million orders of books, CDs and videos as reported in its last quarterly report. The company makes on average thirty-three dollars an order. The warehouse occupies eight acres of space and adds to the company’s existing distribution centers in Seattle and New Castle, Delaware. The new facility will employ three hundred people. Bezos:
Everything we do at Amazon.com is designed to continually enhance the shopping experience, and reducing delivery time does exactly that …. And this place is so huge, we can stock far more titles ready to ship right away.
Amazon opens its online retail website to third party merchants for a small fee. The company adds 500,000 new products to its inventory (about four times the offerings of the average Kmart). Bezos:
Sixteen months ago, we were a place we could come to find books. Tomorrow, we will be a place to find anything, with a capital A.
Merchants pay $9.99 a month to list their products on the site, and Amazon in turn learns more about the spending and purchasing habits of its customers.
Amazon announces it will offer its own credit card slated for release early next year. In a deal with NextCard, the cobranded Visa card will allow Amazon’s thirteen million customers to get online approval for a credit card “in as little as eight seconds.” The company, which has lost money in the last quarter, and has yet to make a profit, hopes to earn $150 million dollars in fees over the next five years. COO Joe Galli:
With the launch of the Amazon.com NextCard Visa, we are not only helping our customers find, discover, and buy anything they want online, but also showing our thanks by rewarding them with gift certificates based on credit card spending. The combination of Amazon.com’s online retail expertise and NextCard’s online credit card experience creates a valuable new shopping alternative that offers strong appeal to our customers and to all credit card users.
Amazon drops Mein Kampf from its German online retail website. The English translation of Adolf Hitler’s memoir, replete with denunciation of Jews, was a top second bestseller in Germany which prompted The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles to file a legal complaint in August against Amazon. A company spokesman:
We’re not shipping it into Germany. It’s still available at our Web site and can be shipped elsewhere.
The original German version is banned in Germany, but the English translation is not.
Amazon invests sixty million dollars in Kozmo.com. The investment will allow Amazon to ship products such as books and compact discs in one hour to residents living in select cities, such as New York and San Francisco. Joe Galli, president and chief operating officer of Amazon reports:
Kozmo.com has developed a strong track record for meeting a unique customer need, and this agreement provides us a one-hour delivery option for the types of products that customers may want immediately.
In an alliance with Greenlight.com, Amazon announces it will offer a car-selling service on its website. Amazon customers can choose a make and model from various trucks and cars available. After making an initial deposit with a credit card, the car is then purchased at a local dealership, or delivered to the new owner’s home. Jupiter Communications predicts online car sales will account for a third of “auto-buying transactions” by 2004. Greenlight.com has agreed to pay Amazon $82.5 million over a five year period. Bezos:
This is where car buying is going, and we have to be there. As people buy more and more online, they are going to keep coming back to the site that makes it easy and secure for them no matter what category.
Amazon also discloses that it can purchase data about customers from other sources. With the new policy in place, in “the unlikely event” anyone who purchases Amazon will also own its customer data, which the company considers a “transferable asset.”
Amazon announces Amazon.co.jp, its first Japanese language website. The site will offer Japanese and English language content.
We can now make our customer-centric shopping experience—great service, selection and convenience—available to everyone looking for popular or hard-to-find Japanese-language books.
The site will offer book reviews, author interviews, and recommendations and will compete with existing Japanese retailers including Kinokuniya and Bertelsmann’s BOL.com
Amazon starts selling electronic books in Microsoft Reader format. Users can download the necessary software from Microsoft for free. The e-book store offers a selection of 1,000 titles. Thirty of the e-books are free. Customers can access the store at: www.amazon.com/e-books.
Once again, Amazon.com is redefining what it means to buy a book. The combination of Amazon.com’s incredible shopping experience and the unique capabilities and instant delivery available with Microsoft Reader will make electronic reading a powerful new reality.
The deal is worth a rumored $3 million as Amazon branches out its payments strategy, allowing users to text money to each other by SMS.
Jeff Bezos introduces the Amazon Kindle, a portable e-reader device. The first generation Kindle has a 6-inch screen and can store 250MB of memory, which is expandable by a SD card. The Kindle sells for $399. It has free wireless cellular broadband from Sprint so readers can browse the web or download e-book purchases. The device can hold up to 200 books. Bezos says:
Anyone who is reading two, three, four books at the same time should have one of these.
Jeff Bezos announces the Kindle 2, the second generation of Amazon’s portable e-reader. It becomes available on Amazon’s website ten days later. The Kindle 2 does away with the first generation’s diagonal shaped keyboard and the expandable SD memory card slot. It is thinner and has the capability to read text out loud. The price tag: $359.
Amazon announces users can now download a Kindle app to an iPhone or iPod Touch. No Kindle is required to download the free mobile app. Readers can begin a book on their smartphone, and later pick up where they left off on their Kindle.
Amazon introduces a desktop version of its Kindle e-reader platform for Mac users. Now Mac desktop and laptop users can read Kindle content for free, make notes, and share annotations without the use of a physical Kindle. Amazon says the Mac for Kindle is:
For those customers around the world who don’t yet have a Kindle, Kindle for Mac is a great way to instantly access and read the most popular new releases as well as their old favorites.
… smaller, lighter, and faster, with 50 percent better contrast. Readers are going to do a double take when they see Kindle’s bright new screen and feel how remarkably light the smaller 8.7 ounce design feels in one hand.
In a business venture to promote talent, and to develop new content, Amazon launches Amazon Studios. It’s an initiative from the online retailer to entice screenwriters and filmmakers to submit scripts for possible production under a “first-look deal” with Warner Bros. The company hopes to promote potential feature-length movies and to award $2.7 million to the top submissions. If an Amazon Studios feature is released, the creator receives a rights payment of $200,000, and if the movie makes more than $60 million U.S. dollars at the box office, the original creators will receive a bonus of $400,000. Roy Price, Director of Digital Product Development:
Full-length test movies will show stories up on their feet and attract helpful feedback at an early stage. We hope that Amazon Studios will help filmmakers experiment and collaborate and we look forward to developing hit movies.
We’re excited that millions of Kindle customers will be able to borrow Kindle books from their local libraries …
Public library users can now select Kindle books as an option when checking out e-books through Overdrive, the company that manages most public library e-book collections. Users will then be directed to Amazon’s web site where they select to borrow the Kindle book. It will be automatically downloaded and all annotations and highlights will be preserved even after the digital borrowing period is over.
Amazon says electronic books have surpassed traditional print book sales for the first time. The company accounts for about two thirds of e-book sales. The company reports that it sells 105 e-books for every 100 print books it sells, including books that do not have an electronic version. The figures include sales of Kindle Singles, short form content from magazine and newspaper articles. The company does not disclose its Kindle sales figures. Bezos:
We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly. We’ve been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years.
Amazon breaks into the tablet market and announces the Kindle Fire, calling it a new class of Kindle devices:
that brings the same ease-of-use and deep integration of content that helped Kindle re-invent reading – to movies, TV shows, music, magazines, apps, books, games, and more.
Running on a modified Android OS, the Kindle Fire is the first Kindle to boast a full color 7 inch screen and tablet-like browsing on Amazon Silk. Price tag: $199.
Amazon announces the first touch-screen Kindle. The Kindle Touch is without a keyboard but instead is equipped with an experimental web browser and an infrared screen. Consumers can purchase a Wi-Fi only model for $99 with ads or $139 with no ads, or with both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity for $149 with ads or $189 with no ads.
Amazon releases the fourth generation of the original Kindle. The Kindle 4 is six inches of e-ink display equipped with an experimental web browser. It is slightly smaller than pervious versions and according to Amazon:
The new latest generation Kindle is for readers who want the lightest, most compact Kindle at an incredible price. The latest generation Kindle features a new design that is 30 percent lighter at just 5.98 ounces, 18 percent smaller, and turns pages 10 percent faster. Kindle is now small and light enough to fit easily in your pocket and carry with you everywhere, yet it still features the same 6-inch, most advanced electronic ink display that reads like real paper, even in bright sunlight..
Amazon introduces a free lending library exclusive to Amazon Prime members. Members can choose from a select list of books to borrow for free, with no due dates (limited to one book per month). Bezos:
Prime Members now have exclusive access to a huge library of books to read on any Kindle device at no additional cost and with no due dates.
Amazon releases the Kindle Paperwhite. With a backlit display, capacitive touch technology, and more pixel real estate, users can read text either inside or outside without glare. WiFi only models are $119, Wi-Fi + 3G are $179. Bezos explains the new Kindle is:
[what] we’ve always wanted to build — the technology didn’t exist to build a display with this level of contrast, resolution, brightness and battery life, so our engineers invented it …
Amazon announces and releases the $69 fifth generation of its e-reader device. The newest Kindle is marginally different from previous versions and is released together with the Kindle Paperwhite. Amazon calls its latest generation Kindle:
… the smallest, lightest and most affordable Kindle ever is now even better …
Amazon introduces the second generation of Kindle Fire, its Android-powered color touchscreen tablet device. A 7″ device is $199, 8.9″ is $399, and the top line model with 4G wireless and 32 GB storage is $499. Along with the new Fire, the first generation stays on the shelf with a reduced price of $159. Asked about what makes the Fire stand out, Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, says:
We’re taking on the most popular price point for a tablet, $499, but doubling the storage and incredibly, adding ultra-fast 4G LTE wireless…
Amazon announces it will acquire Goodreads, a website for book lovers to review and share good books they read. Goodreads, which has sixteen million members, will retains its San Francisco offices following the acquisition. Terms of the sale have not been disclosed. Otis Chandler, CEO of Goodreads, posts on the Goodreads blog:
Today I’m really happy to announce a new milestone for Goodreads. We are joining the Amazon family. We truly could not think of a more perfect partner for Goodreads as we both share a love of books and an appreciation for the authors who write them.
According to Amazon, the site will be an independently owned subsidiary of Amazon and will control all editorial content and the recommendations. This is the second time Amazon has purchased a book recommendation website. In 2008, Amazon acquired Shelfari, and it also owns part of Library Thing.
Amazon, through its Amazon Studios moniker, releases fourteen original pilots available for streaming on Amazon Instant Video. The pilots include a range of programming, from Betas, about a group of awkward techies trying to make it big in Silicon Valley, to Alpha House, about four Republican U.S. Senators who share a townhouse in Washington. It is the first time the online retailer has branched out into original programming, making it a competitor with Netflix (which also produces original content), HBO, and Showtime. Eight The pilots include a range of programming, from Betas, about a group of awkward techies trying to make it big in Silicon Valley, to Alpha House, about four Republican U.S. Senators who share a townhouse in Washington.of the shows are comedies, and six are geared for children. Anyone in the U.K., U.S., and Germany can watch the pilots for free, and based on user surveys Amazon will decide which shows are greenlit for a full series to be made available exclusively to Amazon Prime subscribers. Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios:
For the past year the Amazon Studios team has collaborated with some of the best actors and writers in Hollywood to produce top-quality shows. Now we’ve handed the remote to our customers to hear what they think.
Calling it the sixth generation Kindle, Amazon announces the new Paperwhite — a faster e-reader than the original Paperwhite. Bezos:
Kindle is the best-selling e-reader in the world for six years running. No one is investing on behalf of readers or pushing the boundaries of hardware, software and content for readers like this team: the new Kindle Paperwhite has brand-new display technology, the next generation of our built-in light, a faster processor, plus all of the exclusive benefits of the Kindle ecosystem …
Amazon introduces the third generation of its Kindle Fire tablets, in both 7″ and 8.9 inch versions. A 7″ models are $229 (Wi-Fi only) and $329 (Wi-Fi + 4G); 8.9″ are $379 (Wi-Fi only) and $479 (Wi-Fi + 4G). Bezos explains:
It’s been just two years since we introduced the first Kindle Fire, and the team is innovating at an unbelievable speed ….We’ve worked hard to pack this much hardware, innovation, and customer obsession into these prices.
Amazon introduces the May Day button, a customer service video-chat feature available on the Kindle Fire HDX. Amazon hopes to reach a “15 seconds or less” Mayday response time goal. When there is a problem, users can call up tech advisor in a one-way video chat (they can’t see you). It’s free, and according to Amazon:
Available 24×7, 365 days a year — Simple and deeply integrated—the Mayday button lives in the Quick Settings menu, one tap away.
Amazon launches Kindle MatchBook, a service that scans your previous Amazon.com book purchases and “matches” them with the Kindle versions. Not all books are available, but if matched, readers can pay $2.99 or less to get the digital version of a book they already own.
Amazon Studios debuts the first season of Alpha House its first original series. The show, a comedy written by Doonesbury creator Gary Trudeau, is loosely based on a group of senators who shared a townhouse in Washington. Trudeau:
The first season is about the fight for survival among incumbent Republican senators first elected in the pre-Tea Party era. Even though they’re all solidly conservative, three of the four senators living in Alpha House are facing strong primary challenges from the right. The struggle to hold onto their core values drives both the comedy and the drama in our show.
The show stars John Goodman, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy and Mark Consuelos. The first three episodes are free on Amazon Instant Video, but following its initial release each week new episodes will be added exclusively for Amazon Prime subscribers.
Amazon Studios releases Betas, its second original comedy series. The show, along with Alpha House, won out among six other competing comedy pilots vetted by Amazon customers. Betas is about a group of awkward techies who want to create a dating app so they form a start-up in San Francisco. The show stars Ed Begley Jr., Joe Dinicol, Jon Daly, Maya Erskine, Charlie Saxton and Karan Soni, and was created by Evan Endicott and Josh Stoddard. Slated to include eleven episodes in its first season, the first three episodes are available for free on Amazon Instant Video, but subsequent episodes will be released every week exclusively for Amazon Prime subscribers.
It won’t work for everything. We’re not going to deliver kayaks or table saws this way.
When launched, customers will be able to order selected products and have them delivered to their doorsteps by a flying autonomous drone charted by exact GPS coordinates. According to Bezos, the drones will have been programmed with redundancies and reliability checks to prevent them from accidentally landing on someone’s head. Amazon says it will take the company “some number of years” to get the technology off the ground and gain FAA approval.
CBS and Amazon announce an exclusive licensing deal for the upcoming science fiction series. Amazon will be given exclusive rights to air the episodes online via their Prime service. Episodes will be available for streaming on the service four days after they premiere on Television. CBS:
Our partnership with Amazon for ‘Under the Dome’ helped build a creative, financial and marketing model for event television in the summer. We look forward to using the same model for Extant, a series whose creative auspices, on-screen talent and intriguing concept is already generating great excitement.
Amazon debuts its second wave of pilot episodes available for streaming on Amazon Instant Video. The lineup includes a mix of comedy and drama pilots: Bosch, The After, Mozart in the Jungle, The Rebels, and Transparent. Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios:
With our previous set of pilots, customers submitted thousands of reviews within the first few days and more than 80 percent of those reviews were 4 and 5 stars. We collaborated with some of the very best creators in Hollywood — and even some new comers that submitted their show through our open door process — to bring customers a wide array of top-quality shows. This season we have something for everyone with a mix of comedy, drama and kids programming — we can’t wait to hear what customers think.
Viewers will rate their favorite pilots, and selected shows will be greenlit for a full-season distributed by Amazon Studios.
Amazon launches Fire TV, a tiny black box that plugs into a HDTV television. The device streams Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, and Showtime. Amazon also allows users to rent video from its instant video store. Bezos:
Tiny box, huge specs, tons of content, incredible price—people are going to love Fire TV ….
Fire TV (priced at $99) is meant to be a competitor to Roku and Apple TV, expands Amazon’s hardware, including its Kindle and Kindle Fire products.
Amazon releases Tumble Leaf, its first original programming geared for kids. The first episode is free on Amazon Instant Video and the rest of the series are available exclusively to Amazon Prime subscribers. Targeted to preschoolers and their parents, the stop-motion animated show features a blue Fox named Fig, his sidekick Stick, and cohort Maple. They live on a ship dry docked adjacent to a beach and a green forest. Created by Drew Hodges and produced by Bix Pix Entertainment, the show is designed to promote “creative thinking and education through a world of adventure and play.”
Independent book publisher Mark Shepard defends Amazon in its dispute with French publisher Hachette. Many have criticized Amazon for raising prices on Hachette books or making them unavailable during discussions over Amazon’s share of sales. Shepard publishes a post on his blog in defense of Amazon:
These companies are—and should be—free to set their own terms based on their bottom-lines, and publishers like Hachette might consider tempering their complaints about Amazon’s discrimination or restraint of trade.
Amazon releases a teaser video on its Youtube channel of the new hardware device it plans to announce on June 14, 2014 at a scheduled media event in Seattle hosted by Jeff Bezos. With the device off screen, the video depicts a series of responses by people using Amazon’s new device:
It moves with me. … How does it do that? … That’s pretty damn intuitive … That’s really cool … Amazing … It’s very really life and incomparable to anything I’ve ever seen.
A woman moves her head from side to side while using the device, and another man while apparently holding it in his hands exclaims, “Oh wow.” At the end of the video a man asks, “Do I have to give this back?”
In tandem with its dispute with publishing companies, Amazon stops taking advance orders on select Warner Bros. videos, including Lego: The Movie, 300: Rise Of An Empire, Winter’s Tale, and Transcendence. Amazon has not commented on the dispute, but a spokesperson from Time Warner states:
It is general policy not to comment on contract terms or any other proprietary information having to do with our partners.
Amazon customers complain verbally on the site, that Lego: The Movie and other popular titles are not listed on Amazon’s “forthcoming list” and “Kids & Family” page. The dispute between Amazon and Time Warner will not be resolved until a new contract is agreed upon by both parties.
No network contributions