Jeff is a smart guy and the master of the soft-pedal. On the eve of a wave of early Christmas season competitors’ announcements: i.e. Barnes & Noble’s new Nook, et al, Amazon slips us a quiet but compelling home-page memo about an enhancement of Kindle ownership – free content (well, almost free)! The concept of the “Kindle Owners’ Lending Library” is not new, but nevertheless, is brilliant: especially the timing. This blogger imagines that there will be crates of antacid delivered to the offices of B&N, Sony, Aluratek, Velocity, Archos,and Kobo today.The heart of the deal – if you are a “Prime” member, you get to access thousands of free “loaned” books, of which, a hundred or so are recent and current best sellers. The minor caveat is that you get only one per month, but when you add it up, if you “work” the program, it amounts to a savings of more than a hundred dollars a year. Since there are a lot of people who don’t have the time for more than that one monthly book anyway, it’s quite a strong argument for Kindle over the other readers.
As a gift, the entry level Kindle at $79 is an affordable option – the Nook and Vox for a couple hundred dollars, are not. With today’s New York Times best seller freebees announcement, the Kindle deal looks twice as good. Buying for your kids (who are attending college) is even better because they qualify to get “Prime” for free the first six months and half price thereafter. The folks that are just now buying their first readers have a lot to think about – the smarter ones will factor in Amazon’s enhanced “Prime Member” content, satisfy themselves with the basic truth that e-readers are for reading (not app-ing and Androiding), and will opt for the bargain. Congratulations, Jeff! It’s not going unnoticed that you yanked the carpet the other guys are standing on without even having to scramble to market with more announcements of new hardware – way to stay the course and steal their thunder!
UPDATE: November 10, 2011 With the Fire rolling down the chute toward the world at large, it’s rumored that Amazon has already ordered a few million more of them – just in case, I guess. Evidently the new color reader is a huge success despite no one having one yet. Sounds like Apple, doesn’t it? And speaking of Apple, they have to be wondering what happened – surveys indicate the Fire sales could beat the crap out of their iPad2 sales numbers in the forth quarter.