Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and they're calling on Amazon customers to help them decide which unpublished author scores the grand prize that includes a Penguin Publishing book deal and $25,000 advance. Starting with a pool of nearly 5,000 entries, Amazon this week announced their pool of semifinalist entries and are calling on readers to help whittle those down by reviewing excerpts from the novels.Amazon is entering the second leg of their
"We're breaking new ground in our customer reviewing community," said Amazon, "this is the first opportunity for customers to play an active role in the publishing process."
Amazon is also dangling a carrot for readers to motivate them to participate in the process: anyone who reviews at least 25 ABNA semifinalists is entered to win a prize package including a Kindle, $2000 Amazon gift card, and an HP photo printer. The book excerpts are available as a free downloads until March 2nd, and with over 800 semifinalists still in the running, there are enough for even the most avid reviewers to keep busy (most excerpts are just a few pages long).
After the finalists are chosen, the ultimate winner of the book deal will be chosen via a vote by Amazon customers.
The whole thing has a very "Threadless.com" feel about it. Assuming that they can muster enough reader participation during the voting and review period, Amazon and Penguin are almost guaranteed to have a winner on their hands because whichever book is published, it will come with a pre-built audience of people who are already willing to pay to read the rest of the story that they began with the free excerpt.
Oddly enough, the book excerpts are not available as Amazon Kindle downloads. It seems that Amazon has missed what could be a perfect opportunity to promote their ebook reader device. Theoretically, because users can email any content they want to their Kindle, the ABNA book excerpts are technically available on the device, but Amazon is making a minor mistake in not making it easier for Kindle users to download the 800+ entries that make up the semifinal round.
Earlier this month we wrote about author Daniel Oran, who is using the Kindle to beta test his sophomore book. Oran wrote to us recently to let us know that so far the experiment has been a success. His book currently sits at #14 on the Kindle bestseller list, and has gone as high as #7. It is clear that Kindle users are not opposed to reading new authors on the device -- especially since new authors have the option to publish their books well below market prices (and in the case of ABNA, the excerpts are free).
Amazon is using the contest to promote one of their other recently launched businesses: CreateSpace, a print-on-demand publisher that they launched in August to compete with Lulu. Every entrant to the ABNA contest receives a free proof copy of their book via CreateSpace. Amazon clearly hopes that authors who don't win will decide to go the self publishing route and use Amazon's service rather than Lulu (or a traditional vanity press) to sell books to their friends and relatives.