I like being able to view samples on my Kindle. It's one of the very neat features of the Kindle experience, kind of like spending 10 minutes in a bookstore reading the first chapter or so of a book. The advantage to me, however, is that I don't have to be at the bookstore.
Don't get me wrong, I like being at the bookstore, I appreciate the art of the covers, and there's something soothing about just browsing through a store, looking at what might be new. It's a much different experience than seeing the books listed on Amazon, and in many ways I prefer it.
But I often hear about books from people, and I don't necessarily remember those when I get to the bookstore. That's where the Kindle is outstanding.
As an example, I wrote an editorial on Trust a few weeks ago and someone responded with a recommendation for The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey. At the time I was busy working along, answering posts, scheduling content, etc. and I didn't have time to read the sample that Amazon puts online, but I did have time to flip to Amazon and do the search for the book. Once I got there, I selected the Kindle edition, and I ended up with a page like this one:
On the right hand side, there's the "Try it Free" sample button, which I clicked, and it marked this book as a sample to send to my Kindle. The next time I turned the Wireless on my Kindle, which is something I do periodically, the sample downloaded to the device and appeared in my TOC.
I've done this with tons of books, and probably ended up buying 20-30% of them once I'd finished the sample.
What's convenient is that I can grab a series of sample and then read them when I have time. They drop into my list of books and I'll scan one when I have a few moments or I'm looking for something to read. That could be while traveling, waiting for the kids at the bus stop, or in bed at night. It's very convenient and I love that.
The downside of the samples is that each publisher appears to be building their own samples, or perhaps Amazon is just pushing out the first xx pages of content (or bytes). I'm not sure which, but the result is that the quality of samples varies greatly.
Most give me a chapter or two of the book, some have the copyright/title page/dedication/etc. in them, some don't. I got one sample for a kid's book for my daughter that was a title, copyright, and one page, so perhaps this was xx% of the book.
For the book above, however, I ended up with about 12 or 14 pages of quotes from various people that loved the book. It's the kind of stuff that's usually on the back of the book, a reference from various well known sources. That's OK, but between that, the title page, the introduction by Stephen Covey's father, the TOC, I got 3 pages of the forward by the author and that was it. I have no way of judging this book now.
I still might buy it, and likely if I think of it, I'll try to read a chapter the next time I hit Barnes and Noble, but this sample really turned me off.