And we’d especially like to thank our competitors for giving the Kindle an open field

Amazon proudly announced this morning that even before the Cyber Monday numbers come in, November has been the best sales month ever for its Kindle e-reader. Not only that, the company said, the Kindle is its bestselling product across all product categories. “Kindle is a great gift for anyone who loves to read and it’s flying off the shelves faster than any other product Amazon sells,” said VP Ian Freed. “We’re seeing lots of people buying from one to a handful of Kindles as gifts for friends or family, as well as many businesses and other organizations buying Kindles in large quantities for their employees or customers.”

Sounds pretty impressive, even if Amazon, per policy, refuses to elaborate on its excitement with any actual numbers. And as far as outselling everything else on Amazon … well, everything else on Amazon is also sold by other retailers, while the Kindle is exclusive. Still, it’s not hard to believe the gadget is on a good run, helped along by a price cut and the launch of an international model in October and the growing buzz over e-readers in general. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Amazon’s major competitors in the nascent market have botched their holiday sales chances bigtime. In mid-November, Sony announced that its wireless-capable Reader Daily Edition was in short supply and that even pre-orders may not arrive before Christmas. And Sunday, Barnes & Noble said that because it was struggling to fulfill pre-orders for its Nook e-reader, deliveries of the devices to its physical stores would be late and light. “We expect to have them in our highest-volume stores on December 7th and in a very limited number,” spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating told Reuters.

So if you’re set on giving someone an e-reader, you’re pretty much down to the Kindle and a few lesser known upstarts. The question is whether e-readers make good gifts. Not this year, says Computerworld’s Mike Elgan. Among his reasons: New multifunction tablets are coming that will render single-purpose e-readers obsolete; smartphones with larger screens, and even PCs, offer e-book alternatives; dedicated e-readers commit owners to specific and sometimes proprietary formats; and, in notable contrast to tech gear in general, discounting is rare.

 
 

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  • RedRat

    What will eventually push e-readers will be the adoption of OLEDs and color. When magazines that depend heavily on color, e.g., US Weekly, People, Playboy, and other celeb mags, then the e-reader will take off (hey what caused video tape and DVDs to take off but porn). Also, it will be important that I be able to read the thing in bright sunlight outdoors in the tropics no less. What scares me right now are the proprietary formats that are required. If I can put some PDFs that I have on the machine, that will help immensely. I would like to be able to store several novels for my trips to the tropics.

  • Jerry

    I have to disagree with Mike Elgan. The last thing I want is the 5000 distractions that a computer pad would bring to my reading experience of a book. What I like the MOST about my Kindle is that it only does one thing, and it does it really well. I don’t want to read my email on it. I don’t want to Twitter and Facebook with it. I do not want IMs and ads popping up on it. I just want to read my book, period, and I want my entire library of books in one portible package.

    See, that’s the appeal of it. I don’t think of it as a computer. It’s a book. The only book I need. I like that. If I want to do computer related stuff, I’ll go to my computer.

    Note to RedRat: Your wish has been fulfilled. Amazon just pushed an update down to the Kindle so that it now reads PDFs natively, and it works fairly well.

  • RedRat

    Jerry,
    Good news, but I must have color so that I can get my weekly updates on Britney, Megan, and the latest hot celeb in full and glorius color.

  • Tommy

    RedRat,

    And here I thought you only bought them to read the articles 🙂

  • dermbuilder

    I still say that all e-book readers are horribly overpriced! When you look at the price of high resolution LCD displays, memory chips and the rest of what is needed to make a portable reader, they all cost at least 2 to 3 times as much as they should. when the price comes down to the $100 to $150 that they should cost, then I might buy one.

  • Grandpa

    I returned my Kindle that I had bought for my Wife. Took one look at it and knew she wouldn’t like it so I gave it to her early. I was right. The screen is too dark, without enough contrast and the page turn button is too hard. We are very disappointed because it held so much promise. Very easy to order a book. Great devise, just not ready for prime time.

  • curmudgeon2000

    Like the economic reports and forecasts from Communist
    China, without transparency the Kindle sales reports from
    Amazon have no credibility and are worthless.

    I think that for recreational reading, I would prefer an
    old-school book. E-books, with their capability for text
    search, indexing, annotation, updating, and possibly
    collaboration, impress me as being more suited to “serious”
    reading for study, research, and reference. On the other
    hand, having every one of the hundreds and hundreds of books
    I own in one package is intriguing. But I certainly don’t
    want to buy them all again. And as others have pointed out,
    color, better graphics, and open formats are must-haves.

    It seems clear that in time e-books will revolutionize the
    publishing industry, and eventually it won’t even be
    possible to have a paper analogue. Along the way, hardware
    will be become a cheap commodity, software and e-book
    formats will be open source, and e-books will be available
    from thousands of suppliers. We’re a long way from that
    point.

    Elgan is right. It is very early days for e-books and
    readers.

 
 
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