Oprah Kindle – Oprah's half-hearted Kindle recommendation

The Kindle got a rather half-hearted recommendation from Oprah today – very different from the hearty Oprah Kindle endorsement in 2008.

Oprah had this to say –

Thanks to the people at Amazon all of you (she was talking to her audience) get a free Kindle.

I love books but if you travel you got to get a Kindle.

That’s very, very different from 2008 when the Kindle was ‘Oprah’s favorite gadget’. It was also very different from earlier in the show when she asked her audience to support the ‘Students First’ initiative and suggested that at least 1 million out of the 10 million people watching her show should sign up for the initiative.

No Kindle discount = Amazon has more than enough demand

There was no $50 kindle discount – not even a $25 kindle coupon. Apparently Amazon has more than enough demand and doesn’t feel it needs to discount the Kindle any further.

If Amazon needed any help clearing Kindle stock Oprah’s show would have been the perfect time – The fact that Amazon didn’t offer even a token discount suggests Kindle sales are excellent.

What did we figure out about Kindle positioning?


It’s hard to imagine Amazon wanted to hear Oprah talk about how physical books are priceless and timeless and then mention ‘But if you’re travelling you got to get a Kindle’.

It clearly painted Kindle as a lesser option. We still don’t know anything new about how Amazon wants to position the Kindle.

What will getting shown on Oprah do for the Kindle?

Quite frankly, it’s good exposure and at the same time Oprah but two giant qualifiers around the Kindle –

  1. She specifically talked about how timeless books are and being able to pass them on and how much she loves books.
  2. Then she added the ‘If you’re travelling’ qualifier to the Kindle.

Basically, you could interpret it to mean she’s saying Kindles aren’t timeless and that they aren’t good other than when travelling.

Getting exposure on the Oprah show is great but there wasn’t really a strong Kindle endorsement from Oprah. Not very encouraging. She did say she was a Kindle owner – perhaps that helps.

It should get a decent number of people searching for the Kindle. It’s interesting that the $139 price didn’t come up – So Oprah’s audience didn’t get to know about one of the Kindle’s biggest strengths. They, and the TV audience, did get to see the Kindle and its screen and hopefully that gets a lot of people curious enough to search for more information.

The audience seemed inordinately happy to get a $139 Kindle. Makes me want to see the tape for the show on which everyone got a car.

Kindle Oprah is a non-event this year

This wasn’t Oprah recommending the Kindle. It came across as her reluctantly talking about the Kindle because Amazon gave her audience free Kindles. Not sure what Amazon did to upset Oprah – perhaps it should have handed out free Kindle DXes along with Kindle WiFis.

She didn’t even mention the $7.99 Kindle edition of her Book Club selection.

This was definitely a very lukewarm Oprah Kindle mention – Calling it a recommendation might be a stretch. There’s unlikely to be a very significant impact on Kindle sales. The Kindle is doing very well though and should get by just fine.

7 things Oprah's Kindle recommendation might result in

Please Note: We still don’t have any confirmation that Oprah will recommend the Kindle today. An Oprah Kindle recommendation is likely but not a given.

That being said here are 7 things Oprah could do for the Kindle if she recommends it –

  1. Make Kindle cool again. The Press has started a recent non-stop attack touting Tablets over the Kindle. More people trust Oprah and she’d instantly tilt things in favor of the Kindle.
  2. Make a ton of people aware that a $139 Kindle is available and that it looks great (screen wise). A lot of people still don’t know what eInk is or what it looks like. 
  3. Cause the Kindle to go out of stock within a few days. Kindle is out of stock outside the US and UK and an Oprah Kindle recommendation is likely to tap out the US supply completely. 
  4. Sell a million Kindles in a week. It’d be the fastest Kindles have ever sold – you can be sure Amazon will find 3 different super-vague Press Releases to send out (Most eReaders ever sold by a Talk Show Host, Most Kindles ever sold in a 17 minute stretch, Most copies of Charles Dickens ever sold to Franzen fans).
  5. Knock Nook back. With the Nook Color B&N has a potential winner on its hands – numerous articles and blogs are touting it as better than Kindle and iPad. Oprah recommending Kindle would make a lot of people forget all the Nook buzz.
  6. Show that Amazon is concerned enough to pull out its trump card. Amazon has been doing things it doesn’t usually do – Black Friday Kindle deal, TV Ads, TV Ads for Kindle reading apps. If it also asks for Oprah’s help with the Kindle you know it’s worried.
  7. Send a signal that a new Kindle is around the corner. Last time Oprah stepped in (October 2008) it was a Kindle 1 stock clear-out move and we saw the Kindle 2 arrive in February 2009. Might there be a color screen Kindle 4 slated for an early 2011 release?

It’s not just the fact that Oprah might recommend a Kindle that’s intriguing. The way Oprah talks about the Kindle and what Amazon does will reveal a lot –

  1. If there’s a Kindle coupon or a Kindle discount then it gives a lot of credence to both the ‘Amazon is very worried’ theory and the ‘there’s a new Kindle 4 arriving in early 2011’ theory.
  2. If there’s no Kindle coupon (which seems extremely unlikely) then it might mean Amazon just wants to get back people’s attention.
  3. If Oprah positions Kindle as a reading device for everyone and focuses on Kindle WiFi it would suggest that Amazon sees Kindle WiFi as ‘the Kindle that everyone has’.
  4. If Oprah positions Kindle as a reading device for book lovers and/or focuses on the Kindle 3 it would suggest Amazon is more interested in wrapping up the dedicated book lovers market.
  5. If Oprah doesn’t recommend a Kindle then it’d be a blow for Amazon – especially since Oprah picked the iPad as her ‘favorite gadget ever’ just a week ago.

For me the presence of a Kindle coupon or Kindle discount (or an absence) and Oprah’s words (how they position the Kindle) will be the most important parts of the Oprah Kindle recommendation. They’ll reveal a ton about Amazon’s feelings regarding where the Kindle stands and where Amazon wants to go with the Kindle.

Kindle Oprah update – Dickens is Pick 65, Kindle Oprah thoughts

We’ve suspected the Kindle will be starring in the Oprah Winfrey Show tomorrow alongside Jonathan Franzen and Oprah’s 65th Book Club Pick.

What we probably didn’t expect is for the $7.99 Kindle Oprah Book Club selection to turn out to be a public domain book. It’ll actually be a combination of two Charles Dickens classics (Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities). It’s a special version with a $20 paperback discounted to around $13 and a $8 Kindle edition.

After the great expectations created by the secret $7.99 Kindle Edition of the 65th Oprah Book Club selection it’s a bit of a disappointment to find out it’s a combination of two freely available public domain books.

Associated Press spoil the surprise and temper expectations

Associated Press has revealed the pick ahead of schedule –

  1. The AP actually bought a copy of the new Dickens special edition with the Oprah book club logo on the cover. 
  2. It’s published by Penguin and is 800 pages long.
  3. No comments from Oprah though her website recommends Dickens’ ‘David Copperfield’.

The Associated Press notes that Oprah has picked Anna Karenina and East of Eden in the past so picking a public domain book isn’t a complete shocker.

Kindle Oprah thoughts

  1. On the one hand it would have been pretty cool to say the Kindle edition is just $7.99 while the paperback is $13. It being a public domain book takes away a little bit of the lustre.
  2. On the other hand being able to say you can get these Dickens books on your Kindle for free is great.
  3. If you bought the book as a blind preorder (like me) you might want to cancel and get the free versions instead – A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations are both available for $0.
  4. A Tale of Two Cities was added on December 1st which adds even more fuel to the Kindle Oprah fire. Amazon must be expecting a Kindle mention on Oprah if it just added the free version a few days ago.
  5. Wonder why Amazon waited so long to get Oprah’s recommendation for the Kindle – If it happens on Monday, that is. We’re already well into the holiday season. In 2008 having it at the end of October helped Kindle sales the entire holiday season.
  6. It’s interesting that the Kindle might need Oprah’s recommendation to re-establish itself as the reading device of choice. It’s still the best device for reading – It just seems the recent entrants and the Press have managed to steal away the limelight.
  7. Amazon has been making quite an effort recently – retail availability, adding lending, TV commercials, Kindle reading apps. Now the Oprah Show magic. Makes you wonder exactly how well Nook is doing and what impact the iPad has had.

Tomorrow, we’ll find out from the way Oprah talks about the Kindle what Amazon’s situation is (at least we’ll get a rough idea) and also exactly how Amazon is trying to position the Kindle.