$79 Kindle – Kindle 4 available now

The $79 Kindle (Kindle 4) is now available to order at Amazon. It’s the only one available now – the Kindle Touch and Kindle Tablet are preorders and only ship in mid to end November.

The international version is $109 and is also available now.

Key selling points -

  1. 5.98 ounces. Making it 30% lighter than Kindle 3.
  2. 18% smaller body. Fits in your pocket. Just don’t use your back pocket.
  3. No keyboard.
  4. 6″ screen size.
  5. Most advanced eInk display – Guess that means eInk Pearl.
  6. WiFi.
  7. Library Book Support.

The $79 Kindle is super compelling. It blows away expectations. People expected it to be $99. If you don’t need touch then $79 Kindle is the ideal choice.

39 Responses

  1. Ads? Nobody is talking about the “plus special offers” thingie. Should I thus assume it’s there waiting to surprise us?

    I might find a used or refurb Kindle 3 with 3G+wifi to at least keep one step behind.

  2. Library book support in Canada? That’s a question. But at now half the price of the Kobo Touch – though K4 isn’t Touch – the price alone forces me to re-think my Kobo Touch bragging in the other comments. Sigh. Kindle-Amazon, why vex us so? Drats

    • Answering my own question “You can borrow Kindle books from more than 11,000 libraries in the United States …” from Amazon.com site and in contacting OverDrive by email the rep there says OverDrive has no immediate plans to make library lending on a Kindle possible outside the USA

      Done deal. Kobo Touch – even at 139.00, here I come.

      • Kindle Library lending was only turned on last month. It will eventually come elsewhere, but the US market is just a mite ahead of the rest of the western world (and possibly the eastern world) in the ebook revolution.

        Keep in mind BTW — You can use Calibre just as successfully to read drm-stripped epubs converted to azw/mobi as the other way around.

  3. All the prices mentioned in the “Compare Kindles” section of each and every new Kindle page on amazon.com are for models including special offers. The ones without are $30-40 more.

    • Even $50, for the “Kindle keyboard 3G+WiFi”. Strangely, the Kindle Fire is the only Kindle not to have Special Offers and regular versions.

    • That’s disingenious. Very bad. Don’t like how Amazon has just listed the prices for Kindles with Special Offers. I didn’t even realize until you mentioned it.

      • With hindsight, I suppose it was only a matter of time before “With Ads” became the default option.

      • Yes. It’s a sad thing.

      • I think this also sheds some light on Amazon’s vision for the future. Since effectively no one will buy without-ads kindles now (the option is pretty well hidden, and who doesn’t want special offers, especially if you get a $30-40 (30ish percent) discount with it? This is where the Special Offers name wins out over “ad-supported”), the option is likely to go away by next refresh (next year), and Refurb models are likely to only be available as with-ads, whereas currently they are only available without-ads.

        I would also suspect the Kindle Fire, which is not available in two versions, always comes with Special Offers. That perfectly explains the $199 retail for a $249 device.

        Dammit, I had another thought as well, but I’ve forgotten it.I suppose it’ll come to me right after I hit send.

  4. This looks great. One small complaint though: why are we still stuck with only three fonts? The Nook uses Epub books with embedded fonts, which basically means that each book looks distinctive. It’s a superficial issue, but one I hoped would be addressed in the new Kindle.

    • As someone planning to self-publish shortly, I don’t see that as a problem. My goal is to keep the formatting as simple and generic as possible, and let the eReader (and the user) optimize the display.

  5. So right now, with special offers (without SO in brackets), we have Kindle $79 ($109), Kindle Keyboard (the Kindle 3 rebranded) and Kindle Touch both $99 ($139), Kindle Touch 3G $149 ($189) and Kindle Keyboard 3G $139 ($189).

    So the 3G models are both $189, but you get 10 extra off the Keyboard 3G. Special Offers is now up to a $40 value, instead of $25, but with aforementioned $10 bonus, and a $10 demerit on the already cheap Kindle 4 Basic.

    That suggests that if the telemetry says that the $79 Kindle gets used as much as the other Kindles, that there is room for it to move to $69 simply by cranking up the Special Offers discount. Wow.

    • Thus the Kindle Touch w/o SO is the exact (given the near par dolllar) as the Kobo Touch CND but the latter comes without the infamous Kindle proprietary DRM and is usable with Canadian public libraries. Kindle Touch, that I can see, continues to have no expandable memory. Unless I’m missing something, for me, going Kobo is the better route even after the e-dust settles. :)

      • It could well be — right now library lending in the Netherlands (as well as sales) are all limited to ePUB with Adobe DRM — just as proprietary, but slightly less exclusive. And just as cracked.

        I’ve made my choice of ecosystem, the ePUBs will have to do some dragging to convince me to switch. Give me a 80-100 buck ePUB capable reader (with touch, preferably decent page turn buttons, and 6″ eInk Pearl), and I’ll buy one just to have an in on both of the ecosystems. At $140.. no thanks.

        My main reason for going Kindle is a) the hardware (which currently holds slightly less big of an advantage then it did then, even after this introduction — it has price advantage down pat though), and b) the assortment of books and cheap/free offers & deals.

      • Lack of expandable memory is a moot point when you can carry 1000+ eBooks around without it, IMO. If you have that many eBooks, you could always use Calibre to shuffle them on & off the reader as needed.

        You do make a good point: the eReader that suits your needs best is the one to buy. I don’t see the reader itself creating any limitation in your book choices — nearly every book in the Kindle store (MOBI/AZW) is also available in the Nook & Apple stores (ePUB) and Smashwords (whatever format you like) — so that shouldn’t be an issue either.

    • The pricing has gotten me super confused now. It’s too many options and too many things – 3G, not 3G, ads, no ads, touch, not touch, keyboard, not keyboard.

      • If YOU’RE confused, what hope is there for us mortals?!

      • “… confused now. It’s too many options and too many things – 3G, not 3G, ads, no ads, touch, not touch, keyboard, not keyboard.”

        Amazon should have simplified things with a coherent naming setup, and not expected users to glom onto its high-falutin’ insider, idiosyncratic mess. It should have realized that users are going to create their own descriptive names if Amazon won’t, doubling the confusion. Here’s what they should have done:

        1. Kindle Touch (this sets the standard format: “Kindle” first, then a descriptive word);
        2. Kindle Keyboard (obvious)
        3. Kindle Mini (or “Pocket”)
        4. Kindle Maxi (for the DX)
        5. Kindle Color (or “Tablet”)
        6. Kindle Color Maxi (for the 10″ version)

        Each of these would have an optional suffix, WSO, for “With Special Offers,” and WOSO, for “WithOut Special Offers.” Another optional suffix would be “3G.” Amazon could then create a table with six rows and four columns (with and without SO and with and without 3G), with the prices for each combination in the cells, and “NA” in cells where the option is not available. If this table were put atop its Buy-a-Kindle page, customers wouldn’t get lost in the trees, because they’d have an overview of the forest.

        As additional versions of each of these came out, they’d be given numeric suffixes. These would create new row-items. (E.g., 3a, following 3.)

        For additional pearls, JB should have his people contact my people; they’ll squeeze him into my visitation schedule. It’s just a short trip to my compound in (West) Seattle.

      • You know what – Mr. Bezos really should make a trip to see you in West Seattle. Lots of your Kindle suggestions are great.

      • PS: Oops–My 4th item should have immediately followed my 2nd item and had the additional word “Keyboard” inserted, thus:
        “3. Kindle Keyboard Maxi (for the DX)”
        ———–

        Thanks, Switch.

      • Afterthought: Switch has complained, in another thread on Wednesday’s flurry of product releases, that it’s “not cool” that Amazon no longer includes “with Special Offers” in the name of the product, but only in a box beneath the name. Elsewhere he (or a commenter–I forget) implies that Amazon has caused confusion by switching the “default” from “no ads” to “ads included.”

        The company could have avoided both these missteps if it had used the shorthand method of indicating WSO that I suggested when WSO versions first came out: Call them “Kindeals.”

        Using “Kindeal” would also avoid the confusion that has arisen from switching the default to WSO. This confusion will lead to some buyers (especially of the minis) feeling they were misled, after they make a purchase and discover that ads are included. This ill-will is a Bad Thing (and will lead to product returns).

        And “Kindeal” would simplify online discussion of Amazon’s EBRs by providing a succinct way of describing the product without being wordy or employing an acronym that many newbies won’t understand (WSO).

        The company should have foreseen that making WSO the default was inevitable or very likely, given that ad-support was needed to get the price down and: A) win the EBR battle with competitors; and B) get Kindles into as many hands as possible, because using the Kindle as an Amazon portal was going to become its reason-for-being. It should therefore have differentiated the names of the two versions. (If only JB had made a pilgrimage to my redoubt, I’d have given him this “Kindeal” tip in time.)

        Incidentally, if “Kindeal” had been employed, the “table” I proposed above would lose two of the columns I suggested, while doubling the number of rows. This would be simpler for users, because they could immediately hone in on the row(s) they wanted (with deals or without).

      • PS: The company also caused confusion by not explicitly indicating, within the name, the type of wireless connectivity the particular model included. I.e., it should not have used “3G” as a suffix for one model and no suffix for the other. It should have spelled it out: “WiFi” for the lower priced model and “WiFi & 3G” for the other.

        This convention would eliminate the need for any explanatory table like the one I suggested above. The name would include all the information a buyer would need to know.

      • I think the table they have on there now (each Kindle page except the old 3) does a decent job. As far as “nowt vs 3G” compared to “Wifi vs Wifi+3G”, the latter is what Apple uses on the iPad, which is a point in favor (Because lord knows they tend to do this stuff right, as sales figures prove), but the former is a lot more standard these days. Except the legacy DX (Now skipped for two refreshes in a row.. not a good sign), every single Kindle comes with WiFi as standard, and 3G is an option in only two of them.

        I believe most of the serious competitors are likewise all WiFi equipped.

      • JJ wrote:
        “I think the table they have on there now (each Kindle page except the old 3) does a decent job.”

        Except that it doesn’t include the WSO (aka KSO) price-information—a serious omission.
        ——–
        “As far as “nowt [nothing] vs 3G” compared to “Wifi vs Wifi+3G”, the latter is what Apple uses on the iPad, which is a point in favor (Because lord knows they tend to do this stuff right, as sales figures prove), but the former is a lot more standard these days.”

        But the newbie customers at whom the new mini model is aimed aren’t sophisticated enough to realize that. Spelling things out for them as Apple has done would be a good idea. Not doing so is one more indication of Amazon’s failure to look at their offerings from the perspective of an unsophisticated outsider. This is a common techie failing.
        ———-
        “I believe most of the serious competitors are likewise all WiFi equipped.”

        I think some of the legacy Sony offerings aren’t. And some of the non-serious, bare-bones competitors, usually being sold for clearance prices, don’t include it either. Some unsophisticated customers will be seduced by those, not being implicitly warned by Amazon’s including the term WiFi in its names, which would prompt them to ask, “Does this bare-bones model include WiFi? I don’t see it mentioned in the name.” Thousands of sales will be lost to Amazon as a result of this omission.
        ———

        More afterthoughts:
        It’s too late, I fear, to employ “Kindeal.” But it would still be possible to include the information about Special Offers in the name by inserting the abbreviation WSO in it where applicable.

        Amazon can differentiate the 7-inch Fire from the 10-inch version by calling the latter the Kindle Fire Maxi, which would fit nicely within the convention I suggested above for the DX.

        Amazon now offers 20 models of Kindle: five models (soon to be six) times 2 (WSO or not) times two (3G or not). For times when people aren’t looking at its table, but are discussing the characteristics of each model, it would be advantageous to employ a naming convention that is coherent, consistent, complete, and compact. Then listeners would know what others are talking about, instead of having to guess, and talkers wouldn’t have to include a couple of sentences of explanation (usually in terms inconsistent from what others are using for the same thing) to explain what they mean. This is another aspect (word-of-mouth evaluations and comparisons) that Amazon’s techies overlooked.

        The situation is going to get worse when Amazon upgrades its models, because when the number of models doubles it will be even harder for people to understand one another when talking about them. Amazon should have included a version number in the name of the Kindle that already is beyond version 1, calling it the Kindle Keyboard 3. This would lay the groundwork for Amazon to similarly differentiate its other follow-on models from their predecessors with a numeric suffix.

      • Please note that I don’t entirely agree with all the thought processes I’m describing, but I think this is what is happening:

        – I don’t think the omission of the without-Special-Offers price is remotely accidental. They are setting the stage for an exeunt, stage left, of all models without ads (DX included, but Fire excepted). Because no one buys them anyway, because no one can find them. Except all the international customers, of course.

        – Spelling WiFi out complicates the product names unnecessarily. It’s not a distinguishing characteristic between the Amazon tablets, and barely between the competition. Amazon has always had superlong product names, and they’re moving away from that a bit, I think rightly.

        In the iPad’s case, tablets were something new, and even Apple didn’t know what was what. Also on iPad, the entire thing is built around having that internet connection, and doing stuff with that data. On Kindle, the device is built around reading. Getting books on there is very much a secondary function. How easy getting books on there is, is also a secondary sales pitch characteristic. It doesn’t belong in the product name, IMHO.

        – legacy offerings are not a real concern, they’re not being manufactured and there are no huge stockpiles. The cheapos, yes — but all the cheapo readers I’ve seen were $80 LCD tablets. Those guys are *dead* in the water, regardless of WiFi or not.

        What Amazon needs to look out for (in NorAm particularly) is the real competitors — Nook, and to a lesser extent Kobo and Sony.

        It’s possible this costs them thousands of sales — but even a slight decluttering of your product line can also easily gain you tens of thousands of sales. Net gain.

        Kindeal is not where they’re going. Special offers is the Future of kindle, it’s not a ghetto for the cheap bastards. Distinguishing it like that is thus counterproductive.

        The next change to the Kindle lineup will probably be either the Kindle keyboard and/or DX being cut, or without-special-offers models being cut.

        Amazon sees the lineup differently. They have a $79 bare bones Kindle. They have the $99 Kindle Touch. For those weird physical keyboard people, if there are still any, and to soak up the overproduction lying around, they keep K3 around until after New Years’. DX is something almost nobody wants, at that price. And then they have Kindle Fire.

        Oh yeah, for those weirdos with too much disposable income, and more importantly for the markets where we don’t have an ad platform, you can pay extra to not get ads. And because we’ve made the market want it, you can opt to get 3G on the top end models, as an option.

        So they have three real models, two legacy ones, and two options that can be enabled on some of them.

  6. “[Kindle] it has price advantage down pat though), and b) the assortment of books and cheap/free offers & deals.” But, as you mention elsewhere with Calibre the DRM is not a problem so I can take advantage of the Kindle or B&N deals, daily and otherwise.

    Per page buttons, comparing Touch to Touch there are no buttons so I’m not seeing the relevancy there :) and Kobo Touch has 6″ Pearl high contrast E Ink display so Kindle’s claim to “Most-advanced E Ink display” is arguable. The Kobo Touch remains physically smaller and lighter (not by much but still).

    On price. comparing apples to apples they are the same now; Kindle Touch is only 40 dollars cheaper if one gets the w/o ads version.

    On having two ecosystems at any price, for me the point of a dedicated e-reader is to have one, just one.

    I’ve been comparing and researching and holding out now for six months, from the release of the Kobo Touch to Kindle’s news today and with this news I am finally good to go Kobo :)

    I should note I am not out to convince anyone of anything. Just sharing my own process and thoughts. It’s a blast weighing and comparing and each of us for our own reasons land on the ecosystem and device of choice. Happy reading, either way.

  7. FARfetched wrote, “I don’t see the reader itself creating any limitation in your book choices”

    In Canada, try borrowing an e-book from the public library on any Kindle and you’ll quickly find the limitation – at present and in writing personally to OverDrive they report no intention of making their program available for Kindles in Canada. Currently, Kobo+OverDrive+Public Library lending is seamless. :)

  8. Ranjit, heh heh, wish I was advertising. Maybe I’d be paid for it.

    Meanwhile, I have made informative points they just aren’t to your liking, apparently. Others have thanked me.

    As you are so diligently following every word I write you will have noted I’ve aid I am not trying to convince anyone of anything and am pleased with whatever ecosystem and device anyone chooses for their own reasons.

    Happy reading to you Ranjit and chillax..

    • I wish you were being paid. At least then your compulsive, egotistical need to tell everyone else what you’re purchasing would be explicable.

      I’m only singling you out because I constantly see this phenomenon on the web. Social networking is entirely based upon the premise that the minute decisions each of us make everyday are somehow inherently interesting. They are not.

      • Listen Guys – can we please keep things amicable.

        Ranjit, i can tell you that living in Canada it’s really difficult to love Kindle as much as US owners because lots of things are missing i.e.

        No Kindle Tablet shipped to Canada
        No Kindle Touch
        No Free Offers every day.
        Not as much selection in books.
        Not good prices.

        Yes, it’s still as good as any other eReader. However, there is almost no gap between buying Kobo or Sony or Kindle or Nook. That’s why Reece’s comments might seem to you to be a little skewed. But they are not.

        Plus we need all perspectives because on a Kindle Blog we already are a bit too Amazon oriented. We don’t want to forget that B&N and Kobo are doing some massively good things for readers too.

  9. @switch11, thank you for that. Really.

    I have been amicable. There’s nothing in my tone or words, directly or indirectly that has been less than so with Ranjit even though he has continued to insult and bate me directly in this an another comment box.

    However, at this juncture, if this platform had an “ignore user” option as the Kindle Forums do, I would happily invoke it.

    Meanwhile, I will continue to enjoy this excellent blog from which I benefit. Best regards.

    • Reece, you’re welcome. I don’t think Ranjit meant to ‘insult’ you. People are very passionate about their Kindles and tend to get a bit upset if anyone suggests anything could be a viable alternative. Ranjit adds a lot of great comments. I was pretty surprised to see him thinking you were a paid shill for Kobo – though there are Kobo and Nook people who sometimes visit the Kindle forums at Amazon and write crazy things.

      • Hi switch11,

        Thanks for being a good moderator. Still, reviewing Ranjit’s words, his choice is insulting and, I think, fully intentional. I was called compulsive, egotistical, among other things which are ad hominem attack and beyond the scope of civility. He further says,

        “I’m only singling you out because I constantly see this phenomenon on the web. Social networking is entirely based upon the premise that the minute decisions each of us make everyday are somehow inherently interesting. They are not”

        However, his subjective opinion of me is somehow inherently interesting to the general public? It’s OK, I am not upset, rather I am enjoying the irony.

        Cheers and, happy reading :)

        P.S. In all truth, I am off to read a new book on my Kindle for PC this very moment.

  10. Thank you for saying that switch11. One thing that I have really liked about this blog is that about 99% of the time, things are amicable.here.

    I don’t like conflict and would have been out of here a long time ago if that happened regularly. Like Reece, I found myself wishing for an “ignore user” button.

  11. switch11,

    a couple of further thoughts:

    per “No Free Offers every day”:

    as a Canadian using Kindle for PC for sometime I can say that while not every day is the Kindle Daily Deal available I have found that they are more often than not available to Canada and I have paid for many great 0.99 titles :) I haven’t found it as frustrating as many Canadians or non Americans period seem to have found it.

    per “Not as much selection in [kindle]books.” & “Not good prices”:

    credit where credit is due, while I have found some titles not available to me in Canada due to publisher set restrictions I’ve found a much larger section of titles over all and overall better pricing than Kobobooks. Hence one reason why I am happy it is possible to cross the Kindle ecosystem of books with the device of my preference (for reasons already stated) with calibre and a little help from apprentice alf.

    Cheers and happy reading.

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