Amazon just announced a brand-new, high-contrast Kindle called the PaperWhite! (You can pre-order the new touchscreen devices — with their new built-in lights — at tinyurl.com/KindlePaperWhite ).
But the way Amazon handled today’s announcement left me wondering if they’d made a big mistake…
I still remember that big day last September when Amazon announced their new Kindle Fire tablets. Besides a press conference, there was a message from Amazon’s CEO on the front page of Amazon.com. (“There are two types of companies,” he wrote, “those that work hard to charge customers more, and those that work hard to charge customers less…We are firmly in the second camp.”) A month later, Amazon revealed that that historic day had been Amazon’s “biggest order day ever” for a newly-released Kindle, “even bigger than previous holiday peak days.” But this morning I was wondering if Amazon was missing their chance to make history again.
Because while they were announcing two new Kindles, including a black-and-white reader called the Paperwhite, it wasn’t possible to buy it at Amazon.com. You couldn’t pre-order the Paperwhite, and there were no information pages at Amazon.com, until nearly 4 p.m. EST. Even during Amazon’s big press conference about the new device, if you searched Amazon for the Paperwhite Kindle, it didn’t return any matches.
Amazon didn’t actually list their newest Kindle at Amazon.com until nearly 1 p.m.! “I want my Paperwhite. Now!” someone posted Thursday morning in a customer discussion forum at Amazon.com. “Or at least let me order it now. :)”
“I’m with ya on this one!” posted another anxious Amazon customer…
“I have no patience, I can’t wait to order,” added a third customer. Someone even jokingly posted a link instead to Amazon’s web page for some flower seedlings — the paperwhite Narcissus. (“Very Fragrant!”) Ironically, you could already buy a two-year warranty for your new Paperwhite Kindle by Thursday morning. It just wasn’t possible to actually buy the Kindle yet!
Amazon’s web page for the extended warranty even featured a link titled “Add a Kindle Paperwhite to your cart.” But when you clicked it, it just took you to Amazon’s standard error page that said “Looking for something? We’re sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site.”
It was fun to read the comments that Kindle owners left in anticipation of the new device. “At least you have the option of new Kindles in the US…..” complained one poster in Amazon’s discussion forum. “Nothing as per usual for the UK market :-(” But an American poster responded that at least U.K. shoppers had access to one of England’s independently-produced ales. “On the other hand, we in the USA have a heck of a time finding Theakston’s Old Peculier.”
There were at least half a dozen eager purchasers (who apparently couldn’t find a link on Amazon where they could buy the device all morning). I only saw one negative comment — a complaint that Amazon was only releasing a touchscreen version. It seems like Amazon had a lot of potential buyers for their new Paperwhite Kindle, who could’ve helped Amazon reach a new sales record. But you can’t sell any new Kindles until customers have a web page where they can actually buy them!