1 - They now provide free Nielson BookScan data. This is the defacto standard on how many printed books are sold through various channels. I've coveted access to this data for years. Anyone who spends any time marketing knows that tracking figures is essential for knowing what promotions are working and what are not. Access to this data costs large publishers thousands of dollars to get access - Amazon worked some deal with Nielson to give it free to anyone in the Author Centeral program. If you are a author and have not signed up for Author Centeral (You should have regardless of this development) - run don't walk as you'll want to review this important information.
NOTE: Bookscan data should be used to compare against itself - it is notoriously inaccurate as it does not receive data from many venues. Still if you are doing some marketing this month and you want to see how your sales are being affected - it can help to see the differences.
2 - The ability to "gift kindle books" - Another great feature for those in e-books, people who have enjoyed a title can send it to a friend, even if they don't have a kindle (they can read it on the computer, ipad, etc. While some people might attempt this feature to "game" the rankings system - I highly suggest you don't go this approach. For those interested in how it works.
- You buy a kindle book (and are charged immediately
- The person you send it to gets and email with the "gift" in it - they can either redeem it to get the ebook you suggested or "cash it in" for a gift card (for instance if they already have that particular book)
- Your account is credited with the sale when they accept the gift (not when you pay). If they opt for the gift card - you won't register any sale.
There are many people who have "issues" with Amazon - I personally know people who will "never buy from them". I don't understand where this comes from. For an author, especially an indie author, there is no bigger friend to you than Amazon.