The Kindle Paperwhite is a big step forward for its whole product line. It provides a way for the user to read a book in a dark room without providing their own external light or straining their eyes. That’s something people have been hoping for out of eReaders since the day they started hitting shelves. It’s probably to be expected that the response has been enthusiastic. Even Amazon appears to be surprised by how enthusiastic people are getting, though.
While it’s only the beginning of November, we have already seen Kindle Paperwhite shipping dates slip back twice. First they were pushed back to the beginning of December and now as I’m writing this they are set for the week of December 17th.
The most popular reading device on the market experienced such a surge of consumer interest that Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer and producer of the previous millions of Kindles sold, was taken by surprise and left unable to ship promptly. That’s good news for fans of the Kindle and great news for eReaders in general, somewhat putting to rest the recurring speculation that it’s a market on the way out due to competition from tablets.
Unfortunately, it also calls into question Amazon’s ability to meet holiday sales demands. While their track record indicates that there’s a good chance many of those orders will ship well before the 17th of December, that date wouldn’t be on display if they could guarantee things sooner. If we’re already pushing orders back until a week before Christmas with seven weeks to go before the holiday, Amazon will have to be producing to exceed current high demand levels. Nobody really believes that demand will drop abruptly before the end of the year at this point.
A month is a long time to get production sped up. Maybe it’s premature to be talking about this. The fact that the orders put in today are being set back so far is strange, though. If you’re hoping to make the new Kindle a big stocking stuffer for your family and friends, it might be best to get a jump on shopping. At this point I think the best we can hope for is last minute deliveries and nobody likes gambling on FedEx and UPS being prompt at that time of year.
In order to make sure that the maximum number of people are able to get their new Kindle purchases in time for Christmas, Amazon has decided to offer Free Two Day Shipping to anybody who completes their transaction before 8pm Pacific Time (UTC-8) on December 21st. This offer extends to every model currently available, from the $79 Kindle 4 to the $199 Kindle Fire tablet, and will cover shipping to any location in the continental United States.
The Kindle line, and eReaders in general at this point really, make excellent gifts. The price has come down to the point of being practically large-scale impulse purchases, and the fact that you can expect ongoing support and content updates for the indefinite future makes a strong case or the practicality of ownership. Owning a Kindle eReader provides access to practically any title on the market today at the touch of a button with no need to worry about shipping, travel, or retail crowds. This last one is likely to be a welcome benefit for people doing their holiday shopping this late in the year.
Additionally, according to Amazon the Kindle Fire is the most gifted, most wished for, bestselling item on the entire site and has been since before it was even released. Like the eReader counterparts, it provides users with access to a huge library of content. In addition to eBooks, you can also draw on a large App Store, all of Amazon Instant Video, and basically any digital content Amazon handles. Top that off with access to services like Netflix, Pandora, Hulu Plus, and other content streaming services and you have a media consumption experience it is hard to argue against. Keep in mind that each Kindle Fire comes with a month of free Amazon Prime membership and the access to all the benefits that that entails (free Instant Video selections, free 2-Day Shipping, etc), which means that anybody who gets one as a gift will have a chance to most of its more enjoyable features even without any post-purchase investment.
Keep in mind when considering Kindles as gifts that you can also include eBooks to go with them. At present, all US customers have the option of choosing to gift a Kindle Edition eBook to anybody with an email address. This will work as a cheaper gift option for anybody who might already be using a Kindle app for iOS or Android, incidentally. Also, while I have no personal experience with the feature, you can also apparently also schedule your purchase’s delivery for exactly when you want them to get it. This could help a lot when it comes to scheduling since, even with instant delivery and a smartphone, it is annoying to be making last second gift acquisitions.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of Amazon’s offer, keep an eye on the clock. This will certainly not be extended, given their lack of direct control over shipping matters.
Enjoy your holidays!
As with every popular gift giving holiday, Kindles, Nooks, and other similar products make tempting gifts. They aren’t cheap enough to be trivial, but they aren’t expensive enough to break the bank for most people. They have all sorts of utility. Most importantly, let’s face it, there is the popular stereotype of one’s parents as technologically behind to the point of being unlikely to have bought one for themselves. Admittedly this doesn’t hold true in many families I know, but it makes a good topic for conversation, right? So, if you’re buying an eReader for the father or fathers in your life, which do you choose?
There are advantages to each option available, perhaps more so now than ever before. The big two, Kindle and Nook, are now so similar following the release of the new Nook that it’s probably more useful to focus on the subtle particulars of each option. Here’s how I would divide them up for potential gift recipients.
This is now the only current generation eReader on the market to come with a 3G connection. It’s a feature that serves a particular purpose, but for those who can make the most use of it this will come in handy. If the father you are giving a gift either travels a lot, does not have access to wireless networks, or simply seems likely to prefer a device that just works anywhere a cell phone will work, this is probably your best option at the moment.
This is what I would consider to be the way to go if you’re having trouble deciding. It’s the best eReader I’ve had the pleasure of using so far. The Kindle WiFi does everything that the Kindle 3G does, it just can’t connect to cellular networks. If the owner has a home wireless network or enough tech savvy to manage their library via the USB cable, it is unlikely they’ll feel the lack. It also has the advantage ofavoiding accidental extreme battery loss when one forgets to kill the wireless connection while reading. I’ve found that the 3G connection tends to waste battery power a lot faster than just the WiFi.
Both of these Kindles are available with Special Offers. Basically, this means that the user will see ads when browsing their library and on the screen when the Kindle is asleep. Normally, I’d say this idea would be a little rude for a gift, but it has some advantages. In addition to the fact that it replaces the impressively unattractive default screensavers, there is a fair chance that some of the ads will be something actually useful. At least once already Amazon has offered a $20 gift card for $10. Sure, it’s an ad that you’re attaching to a gift, but it would also effectively be free money. It isn’t all bad.
The new Nook is the first major touchscreen eReader. There’ve been others, but this is the first on the same level as the Kindle in terms of quality. If the person you’re buying for really likes touchscreen devices, this is a no-brainer. It also ties them to Barnes & Noble rather than Amazon for all their eBook needs. If the father in question is a frequent customer of the brick & mortar chain, this comes with some in-store advantages that they will quite enjoy. Overall very similar to the Kindle offerings with a couple points where it even comes out on top. Definitely something to take a look at.
With all the recent hype regarding the forthcoming Kobo eReader, the most frequently mentioned perk, even by us, is the amazingly low price. This makes it an attractive option for people who aren’t quite sure of their need for such a device or even for those who want to give a really cool gift without breaking the bank. Some of us, however, are very impatient, and the Kobo won’t be around in the US until next month! Especially for those with students they know graduating, this can be an issue. Fortunately there’s another option.
The Sony PRS series isn’t exactly new, but they seem to have fallen by the wayside in the eyes of a lot of reviewers these days. Sure, they don’t have a lot of the bells and whistles that newer devices do, but they’re an established and proven brand. The reason I bring this up is the recent realization that you can find brand-new PRS-300 models for just $140-150 these days. They’re not quite as nifty as, say, the Kindle, but they’ll display books as well as anything. My only complaints about the design are the 5″ screen and the positioning of the page turn button. If you can put up with those, however, it might be an option for you! They’re cheap, they read ePub formatted books, they’ll carry a charge for weeks, and they’re affordable. Quite possibly the perfect gift for that holdout reader friend, grad, or relative to get them used to the idea of the technology before working them up to something a full featured as the nook or Kindle.