Services that would add value to Kindle ownership

The disappearance of kindle free book offers earlier today got me thinking about services the Kindle could benefit from.

Trying to go as broad as possible so there might be some crazy ideas included.

Kindle value-add services

Here are some services that would go well with the Kindle -

  1. Auto-buy option for free book offers in certain categories. So you might say – the minute there’s a free romance novel just buy it for me.
  2. Kindle to Kindle social network.
  3. Kindle to Kindle Book Lending Help Features - These could be built into the social network.
  4. Kindle Book Deals section in Kindle Store with the option to get updates to your Kindle for categories and criteria you choose.
  5. Alerts for when a book’s price drops. This should be baked into the Kindle Store and into the Kindle itself.  
  6. Reminder when battery is 50% and when it’s 25%.
  7. Option to either share collections across all Kindles or have separate Collections per Kindle.
  8. A PC tool optimized for shopping and doing various Kindle related things. It would have sections for Deals, Free Books, Public Domain Books, Organizing Collections, Organizing Photos, and so forth.
  9. Statistics on books that were finished most often (as opposed to bought most often).
  10. Gift suggestions based on the books you’ve bought and read. These would be added to your account – An automatic wishlist.
  11. Migrate and Clone functions. This could be via the PC tool or via the Settings Page. This would migrate all your books from one Kindle to another without you having to download them one by one. The Clone feature would be if you wanted your new Kindle to get a copy of everything that is in your old Kindle – documents, photos, everything.
  12. Kindle to kindle messaging. Perhaps even chat.
  13. Budget Alert – Set a monthly budget and get alerts when you hit 50%, 75%, and 100%. Option to switch off buying when you exceed your budget. Currently you can do this via kindle gift cards - Buy a $50 card and apply that to your account and then disable your credit card. However, it’s too complicated a process.
  14. Official Kindle Forum alerts sent straight to your Kindle – Pick discussion topics or keywords and get updates when discussions related to these start.
  15. User Sharable Edit Lists – Users could create an edit list that is a layer that goes over a Kindle book and corrects typos. Then you could share out your list of corrections so other users who buy the book can get an error free version.
  16. User Sharable Kindle Tips – If a user finds a very good tip she ought to have an easy way to share it with other Kindle owners.
  17. Group Discount Site – Groupon for books. If 2,000 Kindle owners are interested in buying the same book then they can contact the Author/Publisher and ask for a 25% discount for a group purchase. Publishers can offers various deals to users – deals that come into effect if a certain minimum number of users sign up for the deal.

Those are some Kindle services and features that would probably add a lot of value to the Kindle ownership experience. The interesting thing is that a lot of these are features that only Amazon can add. There isn’t really a way for developers to provide services to Kindle owners directly. It’s good as it’s more secure than letting anyone do anything and it’s bad as it makes it really difficult to build services.

Let’s look at a couple of features in-depth to understand the benefits and possible disadvantages.

Automatic Migrate and Clone Tool

Assume you’re a Kindle 2 owner who buys a Kindle 3.

Well, you have to start from scratch and have to download your books one by one. It’s quite simple to do it from the Manage My Kindle page if you have a small number of books. However, if you have hundreds or thousands of books it’s pretty time-consuming.

If Amazon added a Migrate feature or let someone make an app of that sort (it’s not currently possible as apps don’t have access to the user’s Archive) then all you would have to do is click ‘Migrate’ and all the books that are on your Kindle 2 would get automatically downloaded to your Kindle 3 with the same Folder structure and the same highlights and notes.

The downside is that there’s a lot of data involved and a high cost in terms of bandwidth. It’s understandable that Amazon doesn’t want to enable something that is a huge money sink. However, it could make the Migrate feature WiFi only or add a PC tool. That would take care of the bandwidth concerns.

The other downside is that this would make piracy easier. There’s probably no workaround for that.

Auto-Buy option for Free Kindle Books

What Amazon could do is let Kindle owners choose categories for which they want all free books that are offered. Any free books offered in those categories would automatically get purchased and downloaded to the user’s Kindle.

It could have an option to include public domain books and perhaps to even include books below a certain price point. Maybe it goes so far as to say -

  1. If any free book is offered in Historical Fiction. OR
  2. If any free public domain book is offered featuring the History of England. OR
  3. If any book by Dan or Don Brown hits below $4.

Then automatically buy it for my account and download it to my Kindle 2.

There are obviously a lot of downsides -

  1. Bandwidth costs. Here Amazon could limit it by either limiting the number of categories you can choose or by making it PC or WiFi download only.
  2. Kindle owners wouldn’t visit Amazon.com and Kindle Store as often. That’s a real downside and there’s no cure for that.
  3. If buying of non-free books is offered there’s scope for disaster. Perhaps we just leave out this functionality.
  4. If there are a limited number of copies available for a particular free book offer it would turn into a lottery. Perhaps users who search the Kindle store and the forums every day should have a natural advantage. On the other hand there’s little point in disappointing Kindle owners and perhaps ‘lottery’ type free book offers shouldn’t be allowed. Let publishers use free books for marketing but don’t let them use free books to buy sales rank.
  5. Less purchases of paid books. If Kindle owners started automatically getting each and every free kindle book offer they were interested in their paid purchases would probably go down. No workaround for this.

Amazon’s probably not going to add this feature because nearly all the downsides are important ones and are difficult to mitigate.

It’s unrealistic to expect Amazon to be able to get 100% or even 75% of the services and features listed at the start of this post. However, it’d be great if they could work in 25% or more of these features as these features would add a lot of value to the Kindle ownership experience.

Is reading worth $379? What about $189?

One of the most interesting reactions to the new Kindle DX 2 was from a commenter at one of the big blogs.

Reading isn’t worth $400.

That’s a short and very succinct statement that encapsulates what most non-readers feel about reading.

It’s exactly the type of statement that came up when the original Kindle sold for $399. It’s coming up now for the new Kindle DX 2 and it’s accompanied by other statements about the perceived value of reading – as perceived by non-readers.

The Kindle should be less than $100.

I’ll buy one when they are $50.

Wouldn’t buy one even if they were $50.

There isn’t much point worrying about these opinions.

Non-Readers shouldn’t be assessing the value of reading anyways

There are certain qualifiers that need to be added to the ‘reading has no value’ statements and a lot of context. So the above 4 statements would be better written out as -

  1. Given my reading habits of a book a month, and reading not being in my top 5 things to do, buying a dedicated reading device for $400 does not make sense to me. Talking from my own personal perspective reading isn’t worth a $400 dedicated device.
  2. The Kindle doesn’t provide enough value to me to be worth more than $100.
  3. Due to not being interested in reading, and due to other reasons that devalue the utility of an eReader (for me), an eReader is worth just $50 and once eReaders hit that price point I’ll buy one to try it out.
  4. Reading just isn’t something I do so would not buy a dedicated reading device. 

These are basically people who don’t read enough and have no business talking about the future or value of reading as it applies to other people – especially people who do value reading.

People who can’t afford eReaders don’t factor in for the moment

It might be politically incorrect and unfortunate – However, if some people can’t afford an eReader then they’re not currently playing a part in the reading and publishing revolution. They will have a very important part to play when eReaders do hit the $100 price point – For now they are simply bystanders and they don’t get to decide the direction of reading or eReaders.

Here we get a different sort of statement -

Reading is worth $400 but I can’t afford it.

For me a $379 device with $10 to $12.99 ebooks is not a better value than printed books.

Libraries are a much better option.

Fair enough.

Non-readers don’t really matter when it comes to Reading and eReaders

eReaders and eBooks are both billion dollar businesses (or close). This has happened with $400 eReaders and $189 eReaders. This is worth pointing out because all the people who thought reading isn’t worth $400 didn’t win out. In fact, it was the people who thought reading was worth $400 and actually paid that amount that won out.

There are two sets of people -

  1. Those who are standing on the sidelines pretending there’s no revolution in books and publishing and pretending that eReaders have no future unless they sell for $50. 
  2. There are those who are putting their money where their mouth is and buying eReaders for $189, $259, $379, and even $489. They are literally creating the future. In addition they are buying ebooks at $9.99 and revolutionizing books in yet another way.

This is worth noticing and worth remembering because there will be a time when there are $50 eReaders and $100 eReaders and when eReaders take over all of books. When that time arrives the same people who thought reading isn’t worth $400 and reading isn’t worth $189 will pretend that they were responsible for all the good that has happened.

That’s the gift and the curse of helping create a new future – People forget that when they held back and waited for $50 eReaders there were other people who stepped in and paid $399 for a first generation Kindle and helped it survive. That yet more people stepped up and paid for $189 Kindles and $259 Kindles and bought ebooks and helped set the stage for $50 and $100 eReaders to be possible.

We should be happy that even though there will be lots of other people and companies greedy for all the credit and glory it’ll be our eReader and eBook purchases that created everything. If it weren’t for Kindle 1 owners there would be no $189 Kindle 2 and it’s the Kindle 2 and Nook and Sony Reader owners who are now allowing for the $50 and $100 eReaders that will reach the mass market – the supposed ‘important’ people.

These ‘important for reading though they don’t read or value reading’ people will enjoy their amazing eReaders and feel that eReaders are finally at the right price – without ever realizing that it was people who valued reading enough to buy eReaders at ‘not-right’ prices that helped create this future.

Kindle DX and Value for Money

Addressed this to an extent in the Kindle DX Review 2010 post. However, it merits a post of its own as it’s a very nuanced subject.

What value does the Kindle DX provide?

Let’s start with the value that the Kindle DX provides -

  1. A 9.7″ eInk screen which provides as much space for words as a hardcover.
  2. An eInk screen that is great for reading and easy on the eyes. 
  3. Access to the Kindle Store - the widest range of new books, the best prices on books (except for Agency Model books which are priced the same everywhere). 
  4. Access to the Kindle Platform and Whispernet – which means 60 second downloads, free Internet and Wikipedia in over 100 countries, your notes and books are backed-up in the Cloud, your place in the book and notes and highlights and bookmarks are synchronized across your Kindles and Kindle Apps, and you get access to other features.  
  5. Great re-sale value. Used Kindle DXes are going for $415 (though they might drop as refurbished Kindle DXes are now $399 and $349. Used Kindle DXes of the US only variety are going for $374 (these prices should drop too).
  6. Amazon keeps adding updates and adding to the value of the Kindle DX. Additions have included better battery life and the upcoming Kindle 2.5 update will add folders and social features.  
  7. Lots of font options including 2 new font sizes debuting in the Kindle 2.5 update. 
  8. Accelerometer powered screen rotation.
  9. Access to all the Kindle Apps – Read your Kindle books across most of your devices including PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Blackberry.

The amount of value provided is very high and Amazon keep adding to the value proposition. The question is whether this amount of value justifies the price of the Kindle DX.

Is the Kindle DX worth $489?

In my Kindle DX Review, 2010 edition, gave the Kindle DX only a 5 on 10 on value for money and there are three main reasons for this -

  1. The Kindle DX has not seen a price cut since its release in mid 2009. More on this in the next section. 
  2. The Kindle 2 at $189 provides a lot more value for money. The iPad at $499 also provides more value for money though it isn’t optimized for reading and thus caters to a different audience.
  3. Kindle DX is priced for perfection – yet it isn’t perfect. Take the stunted keyboard for example – Paying $489 for a device ought to mean that the keyboard is a work of art. The Kindle DX got a 7.75 stars out of 10 rating which suggests a price closer to $350 (at most $375) would be appropriate.

While Amazon has cut the price of the Kindle 2 relentlessly and improved the Kindle service and platform and software continuously the Kindle DX has only seen the latter set of improvements – it hasn’t benefited from any price cuts and thus the value for money it provides doesn’t compare with the Kindle 2.

No, the Kindle DX is not worth $489. It wasn’t worth that much to begin with and the price definitely should have come down with time.

Why has the Kindle DX’s price not come down from its initial price of $489?

There are a lot of possibilities here.

The major one is that not enough Kindle DXes have been sold to hit economies of scale. Last year a rough analysis had shown that there are probably 4 to 5 Kindle 2s being sold for every Kindle DX. This year, looking at reviews, you might surmise that the ratio is closer to 9:1 or 10:1 and you might not be far off.  

If there are millions of Kindle selling there might be only hundreds of thousands of Kindle DXes selling and that would mean eInk and Amazon haven’t hit the economies of scale that would allow them to cut the price by $100 to $150.

A very rough ratio is 1 review per 100 devices sold and by that measure there ought to be 161,000 Kindle DXes in circulation. Definitely not enough to result in a large cut in prices. It’s also worth keeping in mind that with larger screens the probability of failures goes up drastically. The Kindle DX screen provides 2.5 times the screen area of the Kindle screen and the ratio of screen prices might be that or even higher.

There are a few other possibilities -

  1. Amazon want to keep a high-end model. Position it as the luxury eReader. 
  2. Amazon want to build a textbook eReader at that price point and don’t want to train users to expect a $300 textbook eReader.
  3. This is the model on which Amazon make profits and compensate for lower profits on the Kindle 2.  

These are all guesses though – the only logical reason for the higher price of the Kindle DX is that the screen and components are more expensive. Amazon is not a company scared of cutting product prices.

Are the Refurbished Kindle DXes better value for money?

Yes and No.

  1. At $399 the Refurbished Kindle DX is still not adequate value for money. It is, however, a slightly better option than buying a new Kindle DX. 
  2. At $349 the refurbished Kindle DX US is good value for money. Of course, if you travel outside the US then it won’t fit your needs.

So the move by Amazon to introduce refurbished kindle dx options is a very good one. Here are the prices they should consider -

  • $369 for a new Kindle DX.
  • $329 for a refurbished Kindle DX. They are at $399 now which is an improvement over $399.
  • $299 or $319 for a refurbished Kindle DX US. They are at $349 now so not far off.

Of course, my analysis might be grossly underestimating the price of the Kindle DX components, especially the screen, and there isn’t any large screen eReader that has come in at a reasonable price. Perhaps a lot of the blame goes to eInk. Truth is eReaders are competing with LCD screens and if they can’t get eInk prices down they need to go with new technology like Mirasol or Pixel Qi.

Guess what the new $150 Kobo eReader is being called

A Kindle Killer. An eReader that knows its place.

Since it’s a ‘skimps on features, bottom of the barrel priced’ device it fits in perfectly with the Press’ preconceived notions of what an eReader should be. It’s quite amusing to see the Press talk about how the $150 price and the addition of Borders (yup, they aren’t yet bankrupt) makes the Kobo the future of the eReader.

The Press’ take on Kobo the Magnificent

Business Week focuses on the lower price and goes so far as to suggest that Kindle and Nook prices will be cut -

… an e-reader more than 40 percent less expensive than devices from Amazon.com Inc. and Barnes & Noble Inc.

The less-expensive e-reader may force Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble to cut prices, narrowing already small margins on their devices, Souers said.

“It’s a necessary move by Borders, but it could also end up backfiring for the whole industry,” …

San Francisco Chronicle brings up the whole ‘eReaders must be cheap to survive’ theme -

A newspaper that suffered a 22.7 percent decline in its weekday sales (in the last 6 months of 2009) shouldn’t really be professing business advice.

The Street lets us know that Kobo preorders will arrive on June 17th and Borders will begin selling the device in stores in August. Also, that shares of Borders went up 7.3% to $2.22 ($2.22 is the stock price, not the gain).

You also get the usual posts claiming eReaders are tablet computers and other strange miscategorizations.

Kobo Features the Press can’t get over

It begins and ends with price. The $150 price meets the Press’ expectations of what reading is worth so they’re happy to talk about the Kobo.

The second most often mentioned Kobo advantage - 100 classic books. How is that an advantage? The Internet Archive and Google are each giving away a million of these for free.

To be fair to Kobo the Press are missing out on a few good Kobo features -

  1. It’s a platform and it works on a lot of devices – Blackberry, iPad, iPhone, Palm Pre, PC, and Mac.
  2. It supports ePub. 
  3. Up to 6 devices can share the same ebook.

Also, while we are on the subject of being fair to Kobo, there are quite a few comments from people who think the $149 price is right – with the occasional ‘it should be $99′ interlude.

My Take on the $150 Plain Jane of eReaders

It’s all relative.

If instead of fixating on the dollar amount we look at value for money there’s no comparison – the Kobo offers much less value for money than Kindle or Nook.

Kindle tears apart Kobo on value for money

Here are some of the features you get for just $110 more if you pick the Kindle -

  1. Free wireless store browsing and 60 second ebook downloads.
  2. Cheaper eBook prices (except for Agency Model Publishers).
  3. Free Internet. Note that the free Internet and wireless browsing are across 100+ countries (Internet is free only if your home country is USA).  
  4. WhisperSync - synchronized reading across all devices. A feature Kobo can never deliver because the Kobo doesn’t have wireless.
  5. Text to Speech – for books where it hasn’t been disabled (your mileage may vary).  
  6. Folders. So far it seems Kobo doesn’t have Folders.
  7. Screen rotation and lots of fonts and line spacing options.
  8. Sometime this year (or perhaps next) a Kindle App Store. 

There are lots more advantages. For example, Kindle gets 20 or so free book offers on new books each month – other stores don’t get as many (let’s leave out self-published books).

Nook does too

Here’s some of what you get for $110 more if you pick the Nook -

  1. Free store browsing and 60 second downloads over 3G or WiFi.
  2. WiFi connectivity and a good, solid browser.
  3. The little color touch screen for navigation.
  4. Free Chess and Sudoku.
  5. A choice of three fonts.
  6. Usually better prices on eBooks (except on Agency Model Publishers).
  7. The LendMe feature – when enabled by Publishers. 
  8. Great screen contrast.

Fundamentally, you get a good eInk reader with 3G, WiFi and a color touchscreen and some good features on top - with a Kobo you get an untested eInk reader with a big, blue button.

You have to factor in Total Cost of Ownership

Nook and Kindle have gone through a lot of testing and improvements (well, a little for the Nook and a lot for the Kindle). You won’t be the unofficial beta testers and you will get devices that work pretty well. Kobo is Version 1 – a complete unknown.

Then there’s ebook prices. eBook prices alone might eat up that $110 you saved over the course of a year or two (depending on how much you read).

My grandfather used to say -

When you choose the higher priced, high quality option you cry once.

Pick the cheap, low quality option and you cry again and again.

Often when you buy a non-Agency Model Kobo ebook you’ll have to fork out $2 extra (perhaps just $1 extra, perhaps $3 extra) and you’ll wish you’d thought about it more. It won’t be all the time – just often enough to eat up that $110 savings and make the total cost of ownership the same as the Kindle and Nook. All without getting the bonuses that come with those two eReaders.

Years of rationalizing that wireless doesn’t make a difference were wiped out for me in a few short hours when my international Kindle DX arrived. It does make a difference and it’s just one of many advantages the $259 eReaders have over the Kobo.

Recommendation – Only buy Kobo if you must

That $110 you’re saving now isn’t worth what you’re losing out on. You’re going to end up spending most/all of it on higher priced ebooks anyways.

With the Kindle and the Nook you get a much better overall reading experience and they’re well worth the price. Don’t let the Press fool you into buying a device that isn’t going to make a huge positive impact on your reading experience (like the Kindle and the Nook will).

Is Kindle worth $259?

While the Kindle is now priced a lot less than its launch price of $399 we still always get the same question - Is Kindle worth $259? 

Well, let’s see if we can answer that question.

Hat tip to Kindle World for mentioning the Kindle Forum thread about this (link at the bottom of the post).

How many books a month do you read?

Before you explore whether the Kindle is worth $259, it’s worth looking at a few questions -

  1. Do you read one or more books every month? If not, please consider something else.
  2. Do you want something that ‘also happens to let you read books’ as opposed to a dedicated eBook reader? If yes, consider Kindle for PC or Kindle for iPhone.
  3. Is $259 too expensive for you and you want a $100 price? If yes, wait 1-2 years.

This post does not cater to -

  1. People who read less than a book a month.
  2. People who cannot afford $259.
  3. People who prefer multi-purpose devices over dedicated eReaders. 

Please skip this post if you fall into one of the above 3 categories.

What you actually pay for the Kindle

Thinking the price you pay is $259 is misleading.

What you really pay - Kindle Add-ons

Here are what your costs will be -

  1. $259 for the Kindle.
  2. $10-$15 Shipping.
  3. $25 to $40 for a cover.
  4. $20 for a reading light.
  5. $5 -$10 for a screen protector.
  6. For people in Washington (and perhaps NC and a couple more states) – Sales Taxes.

3. through 5. are optional although the cover is strongly recommended and the reading light is necessary for reading at night.

These additional costs (2. through 6.) are why my recommendation is - If you can’t afford $259 don’t think about getting the Kindle. 

Will you sell your Kindle?

If you plan on selling your Kindle at some point of time, perhaps when you get a new Kindle, it helps to look at what you’ll get for it -

  1. Kindles hold their value very well. Used Kindle 2s are currently retailing for around $240 on Amazon.
  2. Used Kindle 1s were retailing for around $150 (this was nearly 2 years after the release). 
  3. New models keep coming out all the time, and at lower prices. That balances 1. somewhat.

That means you can look to get at least $125 and probably even $150 when you sell your Kindle 1 or 2 years down the line.

It’s up to you whether you deduct this from the $259 cost of the Kindle or not.

Conclusion – $259 is not the magic figure

Your price could be anywhere from $269 to $319 or more. 

[Optional] If you take out what you get for your Kindle when you sell it, say for $125, you end up with a cost between $144 and $194.

Your magic figure for the Kindle could be anywhere from $144 to $319.

Breaking down the value you get from the Kindle

Let’s look at all the value you get -

Free Books

Here are all the free books you get -

  1. All the popular classics for free.  
  2. 10-20 new free books from the Kindle Store. These are book offers. 
  3. Lots of indie titles for free.
  4. 1.8 million public domain titles from the Internet Archive. Keep in mind that most of these won’t really interest you.

That’s a ton of free books. This might easily be worth $5 or $10 a month to you – perhaps even more.

Note: You can’t get library books on your Kindle. At the moment it’s not an issue as most libraries don’t have much in the way of ebook selection. This might change down the line.  

Cheaper Books Vs Reading More

This is rather complicated so will list the pros and the cons.

The pros are -

  1. Bestsellers and most books are $9.99. Much cheaper than hardcovers. 
  2. Lots of indie titles are $1 and $2.  
  3. There are discounts and buy one get one free offers.

The cons are -

  1. You can’t get all books as ebooks.
  2. You tend to read more and end up negating the lower prices.
  3. 3 of the big 6 Publishers are trying to delay ebook release dates by 4 months.
  4. You cannot share your books (except kindle sharing - discussed below).
  5. You cannot sell your books.
  6. Some paperbacks are as cheap or cheaper.
  7. Some Kindle editions are not $9.99.

Where does that leave us?

Those against the Kindle will say you save nothing because you can’t sell used books.

However, there is a tangible benefit to getting bestsellers and new releases for $10 instead of $20. Plus cheap indie titles and the occasional deals.

This is another $5 to $10 per month benefit. However, you might very well negate this by buying more books and spending more.

Note: Some people think that by buying twice the number of books you’re saving twice the money. I don’t. If you do that’s fine.  

Free Internet, Free Wikipedia, Email

While the browser is slow, you get a lot of benefits -

  1. You can check your email (use the mobile sites).
  2. Use twitter.
  3. Read the news.
  4. Wikipedia for reference.
  5. Check weather.

Yet another $5 to $10 per month value.

Convenience and Time

Things are so much easier –  

  1. You no longer have to go to the store every time you want to get a book.
  2. No more spending on gas or car wear and tear.
  3. You don’t have to wait even 15 minutes - get books in a minute.
  4. You can get newspapers and periodicals delivered automatically in the morning.

Hard to put a monetary value on your time – However, it gives you more time for reading and other things you like to do.  

No shipping and in most states no taxes

This might not apply to you.

  1. If you buy online you pay shipping, and occasionally taxes.
  2. If you buy in store you pay taxes.

No more of that except in certain states that levy taxes on eBooks and in Washington (as Amazon has physical presence there).

Storage Space and Portability – Kindle as Portable Bookshelf

You can do a lot of things with the Kindle -

  1. Save space.
  2. Save on cost of additional bookshelves.
  3. Avoid clutter.
  4. Save on moving costs when moving.
  5. Stop losing books.
  6. Take all your books everywhere with you.
  7. No more time packing and unpacking or deciding what to take along.

What the value of this is to you will vary. However, it is a real benefit.

Audiobooks and Read To Me

Here’s what you get -

  1. You can listen to Audible audiobooks and mp3 audiobooks (including lots of free audiobooks from LibriVox).
  2. A decent percentage of Kindle Books have Read To Me enabled i.e. the Kindle reads to you while driving, while cooking, etc.
  3. All your personal documents can be read.
  4. All the free public domain books you get can be read to you.

The voice is very unpolished – it is not a human being speaking.

However, you get free text to speech instead of having to pay $20 for audiobooks.

This will only apply if you use the feature and are not picky about it not being humans doing the reading. However, if it applies, it’s easily $5 to $10 or more a month.

6 Kindles on 1 Account, Reading on 5 devices at 1 time

There are two aspects to this.

Read across your devices -

  1. Your Kindle(s). 
  2. On your PC via Kindle for PC.
  3. On your iPhone or iPod Touch via Kindle for iPhone. 
  4. Soon on your Mac and Blackberry.

You can read across all these devices and synchronize your bookmarks and location in the book.

Share books with your family -

  1. This only applies if you have multiple kindles or have an iphone or will read on a PC.
  2. You can share a book across multiple kindles or a kindle and several other devices (PC, iPhone, etc.).
  3. That means multiple people can read the same book at the same time.

That’s something you can’t do with physical books.

People who don’t like the Kindle will say this has no value and instead talk about the lack of sharing.

If you think about it this feature does have some value – you and your husband and your daughter can all read the book at the same time.

Let’s say it’s $5 to $10 a month.

Putting it Together – The Value of the Kindle

Here was what the Kindle actually costs -

  1. $269 to $319 for the Kindle 2.  
  2. $144 to $194 if you think you’ll sell it for $125 in 2 years.

And here is our grand list of what the Kindle’s features and benefits are worth -

  1. Free Books – $5 to $10 a month. 
  2. Cheaper Books Vs Buying More Books – Either $5 to $10 a month or nothing.  
  3. Free Internet, Email – $5 to $10 a month. 
  4. Convenience and Time – Varies based on what your time is worth. 
  5. No Shipping or Taxes (usually) – Varies.
  6. Storage Space and Portability – Varies by person.
  7. Audiobooks and Read To Me – Either $5 to $10 a month or nothing.
  8. 6 Kindles on 1 Account, Reading across Multiple Devices – Either $5 to $10 a month or nothing.  

Which adds up to -

  1. In the worst case – $10 a month plus time and convenience.
  2. In the most probable case – $20 a month plus time and convenience.

If you fall into the bucket of people who benefit from half or more of the 8 benefits listed above, then your Kindle will be worth at least $20 a month.

The Short-Cut – Is Kindle worth $259 to you?

Simply put a monthly dollar figure for the 8 items above and add them up – that’s what the Kindle is worth to you every month.

Multiply that monthly value by the number of months you intend to keep your Kindle and then compare that to the cost price (either full price or price taking resale value into account).

You should have an answer.

This calculation should also help explain why the ‘ read at least 1 book a month’ criteria is a good one.

Did Kindle meet the bar for you?

Congrats – Whether it did or not, you found out whether it’s a good fit for you.

That’s the aim of this post – to help you figure out whether the Kindle is worth $259 to you. It should be a pretty clear-cut answer.

Read Kindle owners’ thoughts on Is Kindle worth $259 price? at the official Kindle forum.

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