Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Amazon’s Kindle DX Pulls a Disappearing Act

51fm0bpqzl_ss400_jpgAt some point, this will no longer be a coincidence: Once again, Amazon’s newest e-book reader has sold out shortly after launch. This time, it’s the Kindle DX, the super-sized reader with the super-sized ($489) price tag. Amazon started selling the DX three days ago, and by yesterday afternoon the e-commerce giant said it was cleaned out. The next batch won’t arrive until next week.

It’s progress, at least: Amazon (AMZN) had much longer outages, multiple times, when it rolled out the first Kindle in 2007.

Amazon doesn’t say a peep about things like actual sales numbers, so no idea how many of these things it sold in the first few days. I would guess, though, that the company didn’t expect gangbusters sales of the device, for a couple of reasons:

  • Newspaper and magazine readers are one of the major target markets for the gadgets. And publishers, including the New York Times (NYT) and the Washington Post (WPO) are supposed to offer discounts on the machine for (some) digital subscribers. But unless I missed it, no one has actually rolled out any discount programs yet.
  • The really big market for the DX will be college students, but it’s going to be quite some time until you see many of these on campus. There’s not much point to buying a DX for school until you can get your textbooks on it, and that won’t happen until schools (and, crucially, faculty) buy in. But Amazon is conducting a test with just six colleges, and a few hundred students, this fall.

One bit of good news for folks who absolutely have to have a DX in the near future: There should be a few more in stock in the next couple weeks, when folks like me who got a review copy for 10 days need to return them.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work