What are they? Here's a direct quote from a recent KDP newsletter defining Book Extras to those Indie Authors who'd never heard of them. It was also mentioned in 2010 on a Shelfari blog on the subject. It might even be on a 2009 blog somewhere. Book Extras have been around a while. Who knew? Probably very few of those reading this blog:
Sounds pretty boring, doesn't it? Also sounds useless for a reader trying to decide whether or not to buy a book. Or trying to get more out of a book they loved. Or trying to connect with a book beyond the words on the page--there's nothing "extra" about the feature as described above.
The thing is, Book Extras haven't caught on because Amazon/Shelfari are pitching Book Extras to the wrong market. Again, that's just what I believe. YMMV.
I think Amazon/Shelfari keep promoting Book Extras as sales tools for Authors but I don't think Authors should be encouraged to embed sales pitches into their books--and let's be honest here, given half a chance, Authors will embed a sales pitch anywhere they can! Sad, but true.
Book Extras are definitely a way to access Amazon's sales tools but having access and using it wisely are not the same thing. There's a fine line between the sales tools on the book's sales page and the marketing opportunity of a Book Extra on Shelfari (or the Book Extras submenu on a Kindle app).
I also don't think readers (the correct target for Book Extras) really understand the point of the Book Extras feature because no one's ever used them in a value-added way. Click through the jump-break to see how I think Book Extras should be used--and by whom. It might surprise you.