Friday, December 19, 2008

Want a Kindle for Christmas? Do you have $1500 to Spare?

Has Amazon managed to create a huge market for the Kindle by making sure that it is almost impossible to get one delivered in time for Christmas? Have they created the kind of feeding frenzy for the Kindle that we have only seen in the past for video game consoles, certain video games and the iPhone? Is Amazon this brilliant - or do the dumb get lucky sometimes?

The folks over at Bloomberg Muse are talking about ads asking up to $1500 for the Kindle, Version One:
“People who want to give it as a holiday gift have to pay a premium to get it in time,” said Bird, 27, a salesman for an Internet company in Redwood City, California. “If the existing one can be sold at a profit and I can buy the new version when it comes out in two or three months, then it’s worth the effort.”

Stoked by an Oprah Winfrey endorsement in October, the Kindle quickly sold out. With Christmas a week away, used Kindles are listed on EBay, Craigslist and’s second- hand product site for as much as $1,500.

The run on Kindles ambushed, which had expected to have enough supply for the rest of the year. As the retailer struggles to get more in stock, it’s asking buyers to join a three-month waiting list. While the shortage risks alienating shoppers and leaving some sales on the table, the Kindle’s buzz may pay off in 2009.

“It’s a great position to be in, given the uncertainty of the economy,” said Bryan Eshelman, managing director at Alix Partners LP, a retail consulting firm. “Could they have ended up with more inventory of this, and therefore, more sales in this time period? Sure. But in this economy, I don’t fault its strategy.”
I have to wonder how many potential Kindle sales are being lost to frustrated consumers who settle for the Sony eBook reader (or some other brand of reader), how many spur-of-the-moment sales are being lost forever as people get the time to reconsider their urge to own an electronic book reader at all, and how those paying a premium for the Kindle will feel when they find next year that the new and improved Kindle is available at its regular price.


  1. I'm holding out for my February delivery date! :(

  2. I don't blame you, Maggie. Some folks have more money than sense, as my dad used to say all the time. :-)

  3. There is an alternative that may get you a Kindle for Christmas (without resorting to sky-high ebay prices) -- the refurbished Kindles keep coming back in stock at Amazon. There were several available on the web site yesterday, appearing at times from very early morning until midnight. From the comments and emails I've received from those who grabbed one, there must have been at least dozen in stock in the morning and several more in stock in the afternoon and evening, so it pays to keep checking the link:

    Note that if the refurbished units are sold out, that page will also display "used" Kindles being sold by third parties, not Amazon. Generally these are new or only slightly used units, sold at a premium due to the shortage. I know that many dozens of the refurbished Kindles have been sold and shipped since Dec 1, but they go in an out of stock quickly. They don't last on the site very long, so if you want one, you must order it immediately if you find one in stock. If you they are out of stock when you check, be sure to read my blog for tips on getting one:

  4. Karen, I have to admit that the overall popularity of the Kindle caught me by surprise. I've never tried the Kindle but I do own one of the Sony readers and I seldom use it. I don't travel on business much anymore and that was the main reason I bought the Sony. Electronic readers just aren't nearly the same for me and I can't imagine that one of them will ever replace a real book in my life.

    I suppose, though, that I should never say "never." Who knows what's next.