No, this is not an article about that gizmo or the book that has gone free. This is also not about grabbing goodies for cheap off Amazon.com’s digital racks. This is about diving into Amazon’s depths and coming up with useful free resources you can make use of.
Amazon.com was named after Earth’s mightiest river. It also launched with the tagline — Earth’s biggest book store. Twenty years later, it is a gigantic “warehouse” that stocks anything you can think of. Like a personal tank, maybe. Amazon doesn’t seem to be straining under the load of being the world’s largest online retailer. Everything here might be tagged with a dollar sign, but there are many alternative ways to use the resources on Amazon. Yes, they are free.
Read The Book Blog
We aim to share our passion for the written word through news, reviews, interviews, and more.
The world’s largest bookstore should have a book blog. It does, with a punchy name like Omnivoracious. It is run by the book editors at Amazon.com. This is a town-center gathering of authors, book afficionados, and publishers who are talking everything and anything about books. Thankfully, it is not promotional. There are insights on books across all genres, there are opinions on authors and their latest warbling, author interviews in text and as podcasts, and there are humorous anecdotes as well. Here, you can share your bookshelf too.
Join The Book Club
One of the best ways to learn more about books is through book clubs. Amazon has its own book club which again invites community participation. The Amazon Book Club has a feature called the Reading Group Guides which helps you start your discussions around good books. Oprah has her own suggestions as well. You can head to the “Best Books of 2013” and see if you missed any great reads last year. Even if you don’t buy anything, it is a wealth of information around the books which make the cut…and many gems that lie undiscovered.
Visualize With A Free Storyboard Tool
All that reading has to spark off some imaginary brainwave. Amazon Storyteller is a beta tool that helps creatives create professional looking storyboards quickly. Visualize your movie/novel ideas with the library of backgrounds, characters, and props. You don’t need to be a drawing virtuoso as the tool tool “reads” a script and selects characters, backgrounds, and shots to form storyboard panels. It is a part of Amazon Studios and free to use. The storyboarding works with movie scripts that are part of Amazon Studios in the RTF format.
Find Creative Ideas
Susan Coil’s nice video show you how you can use Amazon’s riches to come up with interesting content ideas (or ideas of any kind) for any niche. Watch the video…it is as simple as paging through a book to come up with ideas and brainstorm around them. A book’s table of contents is also useful to get a quick birds-eye view of any topic. Look into the reviews for clues about what readers want or are missing. Use the nuggets for creative ideas of your own and not as a Xerox.
Boost Your Online Visibility
Reputation too. Amazon is a social network under the surface. There may not be friend lists and status updates, but there’s a lot you can do to make your voice heard around the community. It starts with creating a public profile after you log into Amazon.com with an account. Anything you do on Amazon will be tied to this profile. The obvious way to get some online cred is through relevant and responsive reviews. It helps all the more if you can craft the review like a small blog post with helpful hints and tips. Expert online reviewers are a breed of their own and they influence many a buying decision. An interesting study in 2012 found that Amazon consumer reviews are just as good as ones from professional experts when it comes to determining quality of books.
Become a trusted Amazon Vine reviewer and see how you can get free stuff from Amazon. You can also create a So You’d Like to… guide to share your advice, experiences, and product recommendations with consumers.
Online Visibility expert Denise Wakeman has some great pointers on how to maximize your Amazon profile and boost your online visibility. So, don’t write off the value of posting good reviews!
Use As A Research Tool
Most of us have used Amazon as a free research tool without buying anything from there. Tie this to the last point on the value of Amazon consumer reviews (throw in some shopping research with YouTube, and you can have the best of both worlds). Maybe, Amazon’s Advanced Search feature doesn’t get used as much but it gives you the keyword filter for surgically precise searches. Use the advanced search across categories like books, magazines, MP3 downloads, classical music, and movies and TV.
On the other end, Amazon hosts public datasets on AWS (Amazon Web Services) which anyone can use for empirical research. The completely free datasets cover subjects from astronomy to mathematics.
Have A Laugh
They said shopping is therapeutic. No seriously. Amazon is rolling off at the top with humor. Put your funny bone to the test with these funny Amazon shopping reviews we put together in an earlier article. The above screenshot is taken from the reviews on Haribo Classic Sugar Free Gummy Bears.
Amazon continues to flow. Creating vicarious wishlists could be a favorite free feature for many armchair shoppers. Wishlists are worthwhile when you create them for gift-giving. Then, there are the free Kindle books and the Amazon App Store with free apps for the day (learn how to install and use the Amazon Appstore app on Android).
There are little nooks and crannies around Amazon where you can do useful things without opening your wallet. Apart from shopping, how do you use Amazon? Give us your best tips and tricks.
Image Credit: Robert Scoble
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