Saturday, December 06, 2008

Thanks to Oprah?

At a time when so many retailers are struggling to even match last years sales numbers, much less manage to increase them, Amazon seems to have made a costly underestimation of how many Kindle units it needed for the Christmas season. Maybe it's thanks to the exposure that Oprah gave them, but this is the message potential buyers have been seeing on Amazon's Kindle page for at least the last couple of weeks.
Due to heavy customer demand, Kindle is sold out. Please ORDER KINDLE NOW to reserve your place in line. We prioritize orders on a first come, first served basis. This item will arrive after December 24.
TechNewsWorld, in an article entitled "Amazon Burns Through Meager Kindle Supply," has some harsh (and well deserved) criticism for Amazon management:
The book-loving media titan Oprah Winfrey, who has the power to send book publishers scrambling to reprint millions of copies of whatever book she happens to mention liking, gave's Kindle the thumbs up in late October. Still, after a year of solid sales, how did get caught with its pants down?

It's a question isn't going to answer directly. In fact, it's hard to get any solid Kindle numbers out of at all.

"We've been very pleased with sales of Kindle since its introduction. Oprah's recent announcement to her audience that Kindle is her 'new favorite thing' generated a significant increase in demand," Cinthia Portugal, a spokesperson for, told TechNewsWorld.

"As a result, we do not have inventory in stock available for immediate shipment. Customers interested in buying Kindles should still order immediately to reserve their place in line, as we will continue to ship to customers on a first-come, first-served basis," she added.

When pressed for details surrounding volume -- even just comparisons to last year's supply -- dodges the question.
The article mentions several alternatives to the Kindle, including the Sony Reader, Photoco's miBook, and Apple's iPhone. Interestingly, the miBook is the only one of the three gadgets made exclusively for reading text to offer a color screen and it is the cheapest of them all.

As an Amazon stockholder, I'm happy to see the Kindle selling so well. As an Amazon stockholder, I'm very unhappy to see that management has so badly misjudged the demand of a product that has the potential of making a huge difference on the company's bottom line.

Come on, Jeff.


  1. Dang, and I was hoping for one under my tree!!! :D

  2. I absolutely love my Kindle! I'm not sure about why Amazon so misjudged the demand but to give them the benefit of the doubt they probably did not expect Oprah to rave about it. Never underestimate the power of Oprah. I know when I ordered mine I had no problems getting it fulfilled in a couple days. Within days after Oprah's show the availability of the Kindle changed to a long wait.

  3. I guess the kindle is turning out to be more popular than I expected.

  4. Don't give up, Maggie - maybe you'll get one from an "early shopper."

  5. Debbie, Oprah's influence is amazing to watch. We are a nation of "sheeple."

  6. Come on Jeff is right. I am one of the people who has ordered a Kindle for the holidays and I won't be getting it until the end of February. I'm a little grumpy about it but there isn't much I can do. sigh.

  7. Jeane, with Amazon's clout and marketing ability, I'm not too surprised.

    BUT, Amazon has so far refused to publish actual sales figures so it's hard to judge just how successful the Kindle has really been.

  8. Stefanie, I wonder if you'll be getting the new version. I've heard rumors that the Kindle2 will be out sometime early in 2009.

  9. Sam, I wondered that too and inquired at Amazon. they said I will receive the version I ordered, which is version one. I'm wondering how true that is though since if they are relasing version 2 early next year, why would they continue to make version one at the same time? I guess I will find out in February!

  10. That's a bit weird, Stefanie. I have to assume that Version 2 offers something that Version 1 does not have, so wouldn't you prefer Version 2? Why would they send you the older one?

    Is it too late for you to cancel and re-order the newer one?