Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

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August 9, 2011 • eBooks, Editorials

When Is an eReader an Impulse Buy?

Amazon started selling the Kindle 3G With Special Offers (“Kindeal 3G) in May, for $164 – a drop of 25 from the full non-ad-supported version. Two weeks ago, they dropped that price further, to $139. This week, they have started selling the refurbished Kindle WiFi for $100 and the refurb Kindle 3G for $130. These are not ad-supported versions of the device, but the full versions that sell for $139 and $189 respectively, in their non-refurb models.

This sure looks like the typical inventory-clearing moves of a manufacturer about to introduce a new model. The current generation was introduced right around one year ago, and speculation is rife that they are going to introduce a touch-screen version to compete with the new Nook Touch and Kobo Touch models introduced this spring.

Is it time for bargain hunting, or time to wait for a new hotness?

While my lovely bride is laid up following back surgery, I picked her up an Aluratek Libre Pro to read on and loaded her up with some horror anthologies. I don’t judge her taste in books, and she lets me play Cityville. The Libre was on sale for $40 and became an impulse purchase. The lack of wireless is not an issue for her, as I’m the one manually updating it for her; the lack of an integrated bookstore is also no big deal for the same reason. For most people, though, the ecosystem is obviously important. Okay, enough digression. My point is, we now have two eReaders and are unlikely to purchase a new one until one of them ceases to function (hopefully some years from now).

It’s beginning to look like the eReader market is trying to emulate the cell phone market, with their rapid turnover of new models. Although the eReader market is not saturated yet, once most people have an eReader that wants one, will those customers leap to the new hotness each year or wait? Of course, once the entry point for a connected eReader drops below $100, all bets are off. It’s conceivable that an eReader under a Benjamin might be an impulse buy for enough people, even in our current economic doldrums, to keep the eReader market growing. Stranger things have happened.

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