Kindle WiFi sold out for Christmas, Kindle 3 available

The Kindle 3G is the only Kindle available in time for Christmas. The Kindle WiFi is experiencing 3 to 5 day delays, which means it is sold out for Christmas.

Thanks to Peter for the update.

Here’s what Amazon’s Kindle WiFi page says -

Expected to ship in 3 to 5 days.

Ordering for Christmas? Due to overwhelming customer demand, Kindle (Wi-Fi) is temporarily out of stock. Orders placed today will arrive after December 24th.

Order now to reserve your place in line. Our Kindle 3G for $189 is still available in time for Christmas.

Well, selling out around a week before Christmas isn’t terribly bad. It could have been much worse.

It does mean that people looking to buy Kindles will either have to buy the Kindle 3G, or they will have to patiently wait past Christmas to get their Kindle WiFi.

Was Kindle WiFi selling a lot more than Kindle 3G?

It seems plausible that Amazon was either producing more Kindle WiFis than Kindle 3s, or that it was producing equal quantities of both. If either was the case, it would mean Kindle WiFi was selling much faster than Kindle 3.

Given the $139 price of the Kindle WiFi, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that it was selling faster, that it sold out before the Kindle 3, and that it sold out a week before Christmas.

It makes Amazon’s decision, to limit Kindle sales to the US and UK, seem a smart one – If Kindle WiFi and/or Kindle 3 had sold out at the end of November, that would have meant more Nook WiFi sales and more Nook sales. It does, however, make you wonder why Amazon recently changed its limit on Kindle sales per person from 3 to 5. That must have contributed to the sell-out.

The Kindle 3, in both white and graphite variants, is very much in stock. Amazon states on the page that orders placed today will arrive on or before December 24th. That’s definitely your best option if you’re looking to buy a Kindle for Christmas.

Kindle 3 starting to sell out, Agency Model Wars in the UK

It seems the Kindle 3 is beginning to sell out again. Here’s what the Kindle 3 graphite product page says -

Expected to ship in 3 to 5 days.

Ships from and sold by Amazon Digital Services. Gift wrap available

The Kindle WiFi product page has the same message. The Kindle 3 white isn’t suffering from any shipping delays and is still in stock.

If the recent past is any indicator we might soon see 2 to 3 week kindle shipping delays. If you’re thinking about buying the Kindle 3, it might be a good idea to make a decision soon.

Kindle 3 Reviews up to 1,046 total reviews

A lot of Kindle 3 reviews have been added in the last 10 or so days - the total number of reviews is increasing steadily and there are now over 1,000 Kindle 3 reviews.

It’s interesting to see the number of reviews go up so quickly – It certainly suggests that Amazon has managed to ramp up production and is shipping out Kindles at a faster rate.

Agency Model rears its ugly head in the UK

It seems that Hachette’s plan to impose the Agency Model on retailers in the UK isn’t going well. The Bookseller has an interesting article on Hachette’s Agency Model woes in the UK -

  1. Waterstone’s, W H Smith, Tesco (a major grocery store chain),  and The Book Depository have all removed Hachette ebooks from their stores.
  2. Apple is pricing books according to Hachette’s Agency Model guidelines.
  3. Amazon is pricing books as it wishes. This will probably lead to yet another Amazon vs Publisher stand-off. 

Kieron Smith of The Book Depository explains why his company has removed Hachette books -

the company had taken the decision to remove the books from sale and did not plan to sign the agreement. Smith said:

“One of the many reasons is we want to apply consistency of offer to the customer. One of the stipulations is we can’t offer coupons or discount vouchers.

If we did an e-book offer we would have to have a massive list of exceptions for Hachette titles. We are not being straight with the customer. Unless I can control a customer’s experience, selling e-books with the price set by the publisher is not something I want to do.”

It’s all very strange with Hachette asking that retailers not change prices without Hachette’s prior written consent. They’ve got to be kidding. We’re in an age of email and instant messenger and instant price changes – Do they really expect retailers to ask for permission and then wait for written consent?

If retailers agree to this what happens next - Will Hachette ask people to correspond with them via snail mail and to use Latin on their websites instead of English?

There’s also a lot of talk about Amazon UK’s stance in the past that it would set the prices of books it sells (without allowing any outside interference).

Amazon.co.uk has previously insisted that it would set its own prices for Kindle editions.

Amazon’s pricing is in line with comments made by Steve Kessel, the retailer’s senior vice president of Amazon Kindle, in August, who said the retailer will set the prices of the e-books it sells

The good thing is that Apple seems to be the only retailer going along with the Agency Model in the UK and it has little presence as far as books are concerned. If Amazon, W H Smith, Waterstones, Tesco, and The Book Depository all refuse to adopt the Agency Model then Agency Model publishers won’t really have any channels left for selling their ebooks.

Kindle 3, Kindle WiFi selling out, 1 week delay

In an interesting twist Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi are both sold out.

This is what Amazon’s website says -

Temporarily Sold Out. Order now to reserve your place in line

Due to strong customer demand, Kindle is temporarily sold out. Order now to reserve your place in line. Orders are prioritized on a first come, first served basis. Orders placed today are expected to ship on or before September 4th.

It’s a bit strange that Kindle WiFi, graphite Kindle 3, and white Kindle 3 would all sell out at around the same time.

You can order now and the orders will ship on or before September 4th – That’s exactly a week after the August 27th Kindle 3 release date.

Are there signs suggesting Kindle 3 really did sell out?

Well, from anecdotal evidence Kindle traffic has been much higher. For my site the release day and the day after were the highest traffic days after Christmas (when everyone was trying to find free books for their new Kindle). Getting almost as much traffic as Christmas Day on a  summer day is a sign that the amount of interest was incredible.

The Press has been positive, Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi are both priced really low, and perhaps the biggest factor is that Kindle 3 has been a really solid release. So it’s entirely possible that Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi did sell out.

The strange part is that they sold out around the same time and that the white Kindle 3 model also sold out.

Given the low price point of the Kindle WiFi and the amount of features packed in I suspect we’ll see it selling out a ton over the next few months. The graphite Kindle 3 with 3G and WiFi – Well, perhaps it’ll sell out a few times too. It’s hard to imagine the white Kindle 3 selling out as much - the graphite casing really does improve screen contrast and you’d think people would prefer the graphite kindle disproportionately over the white kindle.

Might make sense to get in line and grab a Kindle WiFi, or perhaps a Kindle 3, before the delay grows longer.

How people react to news of a product selling out

Have searched Google Trends and the web for some hard figures – but there are none.

So will have to rely on the behavior of people coming to this site (and you’ll have to rely on my ability to accurately gauge user behavior).

Here are the 5 main things that happened when the whole Nook is selling out news came out -

  1. Amount of traffic related to Nook went up nearly 3 times.  
  2. All the articles assumed the nook was a big hit. The Press love nook so it shouldn’t be a surprise.
  3. Traffic related to Kindle went up a bit. Perhaps 25% to 50%.
  4. A significant number of people were just looking to confirm their decision to purchase the Nook i.e. they were choosing to go to posts that seemed to be pro-Nook (even when those posts weren’t the first option).
  5. Even people who had already decided and bought a nook or a kindle were coming over to confirm their decision.

In effect -

As soon as people heard the Nook was selling out some of them decided (not consciously) they should get one, and after that point they were just looking to find data points that would support their decision/desire.

They came to reviews and posts just looking to cherry-pick things that validated their decision.

Why would this be happening?

There are a few factors coming in to play (courtesy, among other things, Cialdini’s Influence) -

  1. Social Proof – If lots of other people are buying something, then perhaps its the best option for me.
  2. Scarcity - Get it now before it sells out. This is why sales have time constraints.
  3. Path of Least Resistance i.e. Buying the item that’s selling out takes the least effort.
  4. Minimize Downside – If you do make a mistake, there will be a lot of other people who made the same mistake and you don’t have to feel bad about it.

These are useful short-cuts - if you tried to make decisions yourself for every single aspect of your life you would be overwhelmed.

People are using shortcuts (other people are buying it, it’s scarce) to decide what to buy. They then are looking for data points to justify their decision.

People usually buy what they feel is right and what they want, not what’s best for them

There’s very little logic involved. People know in the first few seconds that they want something (something/someone convinces them very quickly) and then they take hours to convince themselves it’s ok to get what they want. They also refuse to see the downsides of their decision.

It’s pretty much like dating.

We just build up reasons that will make us feel better about our purchase and that will avoid us feeling bad -

  1. That’s why social proof is so important – if lots of people are buying the same thing it must be good, and there must be little downside.
  2. That’s why scarcity is great – Apple’s products always are set-up to sell out. This time Microsoft did the same thing with Windows 7 – In Europe they made it sell out several times by offering 50% to 70% discounts.  
  3. It helps to make decisions very, very easy and quick for customers. That’s why Amazon has gone even beyond 1 click and invented pay phrases.  

Where does that leave us? Well, our concept of what a product review is needs to be re-thought.

What is a Good Review?

In a way a review should cater to two groups of people -

  1. People who haven’t decided and would like as many data points and emotional and psychological triggers as needed to make a good decision. I’m not saying manipulate them – No, provide all the really good reasons to buy and all the really good reasons not to buy. This means including that 25% of people hate the cover and 70% love the screen. Both are emotional trigger points.
  2. People who have already decided what they want to buy and just want a reason to justify the purchase. For them, provide - why it’s worth it, why they should get it now and not wait, or a totally random thing – Basically, it’s so they can be guilt-free about the purchase and not regret it.

There is the third category of people who have already bought something (or decided against it) – However, those aren’t going to use the review to make a decision.

With our two categories of customers in mind, we need to provide a few things -

  • Most importantly, it should speak to people’s emotions and the experience they will have with it i.e. what using the device will be like, things to love and hate and so forth.

This is exceedingly difficult to understand i.e. users care about how a product makes them feel and their experience with it. They care about it more than anything else.

There was a user comment on the kindle forums that captured this perfectly. Something to the effect of -

I wish people would write down what the actual font sizes are and what it means when using the Kindle, and other things that matter.

People don’t really care that there are 7 font sizes – They want to know that they can find the font size they like and they can change to a bigger size if their eyes start getting tired.

  • 2nd most important is an absolutely accurate review i.e. call a spade a spade. If a product is 4 stars give it 4 stars.

This is simple – wrong data or outright lies are misleading and then people never come back.

  • The Review should provide the key data – since people need the data to provide the assurance that they’re making a good decision (even though a lot of the time they don’t use the data).

It helps to have pros and cons listed – People can pick out whatever they like. Also they can understand both sides and see what matters to them personally.

  • Other users’ experiences should be included – they’re vital to the decision process.

Social Proof is very, very powerful. The user reviews at Amazon are the biggest reason for its success – it hardly ever gets mentioned. However, look at what users do and you have loads and loads of people going to Amazon for reviews even when they’re buying from somewhere else.

User reviews give you -

  1. Actual customer experience.
  2. Social Proof.
  3. An understanding of what can go wrong.
  4. A sort of probability of success with your purchase. If 80% of people love a product it’s probably a good purchase decision. 

It’s just helped me realize that reviews are a very different creature from what my perception was.

Oprah Kindle Effect = Kindle Out Of Stock, 2-3 weeks delay.

Nov 5th update: Stephen Windwalker has recently posted that sales of his Kindle Help Book increased by a factor of 5 after the Oprah Kindle effect – I can confirm that traffic on this blog increased by a factor of 4 (it’s still triple what it was pre-Oprah), and number of people clicking through to the Kindle page – well, the Oprah Effect has resulted in an increase by a factor of 20. Since the 24th, on average, more than 20 times more people have visited the Kindle product page – that’s what Oprah has done for the Kindle.

There’s also an AdAge study about the Oprah Kindle effect that has some interesting numbers – 467% increase in number of people searching for ‘kindle’.

Original: Wow – I’d forecast that 105,000 or so Kindles would get sold in the week or so after Oprah’s Kindle recommendation, and also written that a good test of the Kindle Oprah impact would be whether the Kindle gets sold out or not - well the Kindle is out of stock - with 2-3 week delays! I was going to buy a Kindle (and ship it out to a friend so he can bring it with him to Canada), except I can’t – Kindle’s Out of Stock.

Amazon shows a 2-3 week delay in shipping. If you don’t mind waiting, you still have till end of Nov 1st to use kindle coupon: OPRAHWINFREY and get $50 off the Kindle. I’m going to buy one nevertheless (Edit: Just did – hadn’t factored in taxes - i’ll probably buy Kindle 2 too, when it comes out). I hope Amazon specifies a release date for Kindle 2 soon.

Oprah Effect = Kindle Out of Stock

Oprah Effect = Kindle Out of Stock

Amazon should send Oprah the biggest bouquet of flowers they can find. Even in the economic downturn a recommendation from Oprah = Kindle sold out. The Kindle Oprah coupon ends end of day, and it’ll be interesting to see whether November is a slow month for Kindle sales based on the huge sales in the last week of October.

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