Is there money to be made in selling $400 paperweights?
"In five and a half hours, we were sold out of our initial inventory," Amazon.com
It's true. Orders placed after that time period have been tagged with a Nov. 29, 2007, shipping date. However, in a move that a cynic like me has to interpret as desperate, the website is still devoting the lion's share of its Amazon.com landing page to pitching the $399 device.
Funny, isn't it? Amazon is gearing up for the start of the telltale holiday shopping season and it's promoting a product that has been out of stock for nearly a day? That is so unlike the country's leading e-tailer. The landing page is usually earmarked for an assortment of hot-selling items, and Amazon is giving up that precious chunk of real estate to a somewhat endearing letter by Bezos detailing how the Kindle will make bookworm purists happy.
Something's not right here. Was the company's "initial inventory" intentionally meager? If it sold out in less than six hours, why is the next batch holding up so well through the next 18-20 hours despite the full-court promotional press?
Keep in mind that those brown Microsoft
Sorry, Bezos. No matter how hard Amazon tries to tug at the country's heartstrings, the Kindle won't be this year's Tickle Me Elmo. You can't orchestrate demand for a product just by holding back on the supply.
And what's with the name, anyway?
A Kindle by any other name is not as cheap
"We are hoping that this is the beginning of something," Bezos told FOX Business Network last night, "that we're starting a kind of fire."
Nice one. You'll never appeal to diehard readers with book-burning imagery. You'll also never appeal to research hounds when the only website that's accessible on the Kindle -- other than the Amazon digital-book storefront itself -- is the ceremoniously unreliable Wikipedia. Really, now. Put a little research into your research next time.
In short, I'm calling your bluff, Amazon. I smell a small springtime price cut, and I predict that I can wait to get a Kindle for $199 after an even steeper price cut before next year's holiday season. Heck, Apple's
I may as well go further out on the limb
I also predict that the price of Kindle books -- especially those that are already available in paperback for a pittance -- will be slashed significantly next year. Book publishers stand to profit from the inventory-free platform, which is free of returns for them to stomach; they won't make the same stupid mistakes that the greedy record labels have made in the past.
Will the Kindle still be a failure at more mainstream-palatable price points? Probably not, but I predict that evolution will save your hide, Amazon.
That EVDO connection through Sprint Nextel
All of this won't happen overnight, though. It's going to take patience, humility, and a fire sale or two to make it happen.
I'm sure that your marketing department is ablaze -- pun intended -- with material, but try these new slogans on for size:
- Why rekindle your romance when you can read Kindle your romance novel?
- The Kindle is so hot, it's on fire sale!
- Kindle 2.0: Next-of-Kindle
Jeff be nimble. Jeff be quick. Jeff jump over the Kindle schtick.
A look at the best of Bezos:
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been shopping online for about as long as Amazon.com has been in business, but he rarely has all of the answers. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story, save for TiVo. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.