It's been two weeks since Amazon.com
Unfortunately, it's working too well. The online retailer sold out of its initial shipment in less than six hours. Promised delivery dates bumped into December, but now Amazon is telling prospective buyers that they won't get their Kindles until after Christmas.
What's a holiday shopper to do? I was surprised to see several Kindles on eBay
Going, going, gone -- to the rich dude in the front, with the wavy hair
Don't let the wacky bids kid you. Sony's PS3s also sold at a premium last year. Then customers realized that supply was greater than demand for the high-priced video game consoles.
I still believe that the Kindle -- in its present form -- is going to be a tough sell to the masses at $400 a pop. You can dismiss the $800-ish bids on eBay as the result of frantic buyers who can't wait for the inevitable price drop next year.
Amazon hasn't released initial order data on the device, though it eventually will. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are few Kindles out there at the moment. How do I know? Well, all it took was three sales of my Kindle-specific non-financial read "Why the Kindle Will Fail" to temporarily catapult the title to No. 307 on the best-seller list of more than 93,000 available e-books last week.
The self-publishing platform for Kindle can be a game-changer. I felt that way after I saw the light and turned bullish on the Kindle. My painless path to getting published on Kindle even inspired longtime Fool Tony "Off2Aruba" Miller to put out some of his prized recipes. Tasty!
However, for the revolution to happen, Amazon is going to need to attract millions -- or at the very least, hundreds of thousands -- of Kindle buyers at $199, instead of settling for what I would unscientifically peg to be tens of thousands paying $399 at the moment.
Amazon has a real shot here. It can be to electronic readers what Apple
We still have to get through today before getting to tomorrow, though. That means Amazon has to ramp up production, so the Kindle early adopters don't suffer from buyer's remorse by chasing the device down on third-party auction sites.
The pulse of the Kindle reader
What's selling on the Kindle? It's not the blogs. It's not even the books, really. The two most popular purchases -- and I've checked this every few days, so it's pretty consistent -- are digital subscriptions to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
That's really the best reason to buy a Kindle right now. Paying $9.99 a month to have the Journal delivered digitally into your reader every morning is a compelling purchase. New York Times
As for the best-selling digital books, they aren't wordy epics from the Tolstoy or Dostoevsky camps. Kindle users may evolve to accept long-form fiction in electronic form, but for now, the early adopters are siding with lighthearted political zingers and femme anecdotes as their digital books of choice. The two books currently at the top are Stephen Colbert's I Am America and Miriam Peskowitz's The Daring Book for Girls.
As long as the ending isn't too many paragraphs away, Kindle users seem happy. That's a good start.
So here's a toast to two very provocative weeks of Kindle in the marketplace. Like a fresh Kindle order, there are a lot of reasons to look ahead to 2008 for fulfillment.
Rekindling the Kindle:
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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. 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.