Monday, October 24, 2011

Why I'm Not Trading In Any of My Old Kindles

In case you missed it, Amazon recently announced that they'll accept trade-ins of older Kindles. Visit this page to see how much yours might be worth. I've got a first-gen Kindle (yup, with the super-ugly design and keyboard) as well as two third-gen ones. I have no intention of sending any of them back. Not even the first-gen one with the weak battery.

Why? First of all, thanks very much to the glacial pace of change of the Kindle e-reading software, that first-gen device is every bit as useful as the latest one. Amazon never made functionality a compelling reason to upgrade; it's just always been about a sleeker design or a slightly faster device. As a result, all of the Kindles I own make for great hand-me-downs. When my Fire and Touch arrive next month I plan to give my third-gen Kindle to my son (just don't tell my daughters).

That leads to reason #2 I'm not taking part in the "great Kindle trade-in deal": Account sharing. All 3 of the Kindles in the Wikert family are on the same Amazon account. That means we buy a book once and can share it with each other. Yes, you have to be careful with Whispersync when you do this, but my wife and I have been sharing books all year with no problems. When I pass some of these older Kindles to my kids I'll keep them all on that same account so we can continue sharing books we only have to buy once.

Finally, the trade-in prices are awful. Seriously. $20 for the wifi Kindle I just bought earlier this year? No way. Again, even when the new generation ones hit next month I feel my current Kindle has way more value than $20. If Amazon really wants to make this program interesting though, they should consider giving all the trade-in Kindles to schools and other non-profits around the world. At least then we'd know the paltry trade-in credit we're receiving was for a good cause.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What Could a "Kindle Membership" Program Look Like?

Amazon is selling millions of Kindles every year and, of course, they're selling even more ebooks, so perhaps they don't feel the need to sweeten the customer pot with a membership program like the one Barnes & Noble offers. You could argue the B&N program is more oriented towards physical products with in-store discounts and free express shipping. Then again, that sounds a lot like Amazon's own Prime program; Amazon has at least started migrating Prime more towards digital content with their TV/movies streaming service. I think it could be even more valuable in the digital world though.

Here's a good example. Do you check out the Kindle Daily Deal every morning like I do? I find myself simply hoarding content from it now. After all, if a book is usually $9.99 or more and available for only a buck or two, how can I resist? That only leads more to the Amazon formula factor I mentioned in an earlier post: the more I buy the more I feel compelled to stick with Amazon's platform. I'm already way behind on all my reading and these cheap daily deals are creating even more of a backlog.

Does Amazon really need to take these deals all the way down to 99 cents though? What if there were two tiers instead? For the general public, also known as non-members, that $9.99 book is $4.99 today; for members of a Kindle program the price is 99 cents. Membership could cost $20, $50 or whatever makes sense per year. Discounts could also apply to other products on Amazon (e.g., magazine or newspaper subscriptions, accessories, etc.) In short, they'd need to come up with a program that's compelling enough to get you and I to fork over money in advance. If they come up with the right formula I'd definitely sign up.