A 35% Discount on a Kindle Fire HD!

Amazon discounts the Kindle Fire HD with a red gift bow for the Christmas holiday

“Today Only,” read the special announcement on Amazon. Friday they’d slashed the prices on the Kindle Fire HD to just $129!

For a shortcut, point your browser to

But a more interesting question is why is Amazon offering massive discounts on their high-definition tablet?

First, it’s a refurbished version, but that doesn’t explain everything. And the second clue is that Amazon seems to running out of their basic $69 Kindle. “Expected to ship in 1 to 2 weeks,” reads the text Amazon quietly slipped onto their web page. Why the sudden dramatic shifting in Amazon’s inventory of Kindles?

Of course, one theory is that Amazon’s about to announce a new Kindle. They usually schedule these announcements in September, to build up anticipation for the devices they’ll be releasing right before the big shopping season after Thanksgiving. So Amazon, the theory goes, is making room for all these new Kindles. Which they’re going to have to store someplace while they wait for new customers to order them…

What will Amazon announce? They’ll want to upgrade their tablets to keep up with their new competition. Maybe Amazon will add the Firefly button, and the other cool new features that they introduced with their Fire Phone. Besides being fun to play with, those features also made it easier to buy more things from Amazon.

So my guess is Amazon will include it on as many devices as possible!

Remember, for a shortcut to Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD page, point your browser to

A Free $10 Credit from Amazon!

1000 Free Amazon Coins

I spotted a surprise in Amazon’s app store today. They’re giving away a free $10 credit! Of course, they’re paying you in “Amazon money,” but it’s still a $10 value!

For a shortcut to Amazon’s deal, point your browser to

There’s five free apps at that URL — but for each one that you download, Amazon will add a $2 credit to your account. (The credit comes in the form of “Amazon Coins”, the virtual currency Amazon issues for in-app purchases, which can also be redeemed when buying an app). One “Amazon Coin” equals one penny, and if you download all five of these apps, Amazon will give you 1,000 of ’em. But ignore that extra layer of “abstraction” and just focus on the bottom line. If you download the apps, you get a $10 credit.

One of the five free apps is actually from the Food Network. It offers thousands of recipes, and lets you search based on a specific ingredient you want to use — or even for your favorite chef! And I was really intrigued by the second free app — which is called iHeartRadio. It lets you listen to radio stations live on your Kindle Fire or Android smartphone!

But why are they issuing these credits in Amazon coins? The strategy is to make it seem less like you’re spending real money and more like it’s just fun play pretend money. Forcing people to do this conversion in their head — from Amazon money to real money — makes it harder for people to remember their budget! But if you just download these five free apps, you’re already starting out ahead.

And you’ll end up with $10 worth of free credits to spend in Amazon’s Android app store!

Remember, for a shortcut to Amazon’s deal, point your browser to

Get a Kindle Fire HD for $109

Amazon voted #1 in customer satisfaction

“Just Announced” reads the headline on Amazon’s front page. Amazon’s discounted their high-definition Kindle Fire tablets to just $109. And they’re offering $30 off on every Kindle Fire tablet for the next two days.

For a shortcut, point your browser to

It’s a two-day offer — so it expires at midnight on Saturday night. (That’s Pacific Standard Time — basically, “midnight in Seattle”.) Amazon’s limited the deal to just one discounted tablet per customer, and they caution that it’s only available “while supplies last”. But in a special announcement on Amazon’s home page, they’ve tied the offer to an important milestone for the company. Amazon was voted #1 in customer satisfaction — for the 9th year in a row!

It’s based on a survey of over 67,000 shoppers between November 29th and December 17th. The survey asked about their satisfaction shopping at the top 100 retailers, and there was a big surprise in the results. Amazon actually achieved a 90% satisfaction rate — the highest score ever recorded by the survey. And besides high marks for online shopping, Amazon also scored “significantly out front” of the other retailers when it came to shopping on a mobile device!

“To achieve such high customer satisfaction scores and sustain them over time is a remarkable feat,” the study concluded, “that remains unmatched by any other e-retailer.” It also hinted that customers now expect better service from retailers, but that Amazon is still keeping up with those expectations, and is “truly setting a new bar for an excellent customer experience.” Of course after such a glowing review, Amazon wanted to make sure that people noticed. So they’ve created a special page with the most positive quotes. And they’re linking to it in their home-page announcement about the big Kindle Fire discounts.

“To say thank you,” reads the announcement, “we’re taking $30 off all Kindle Fire tablets…” (Just be sure to enter the promo code MAYDAY30 when completing your purchase.) “Amazon voted #1 in customer satisfaction 9 years running…” read the big bold letters at the top of the page — under that little orange banner that says “Just announced”.

And on the picture of the discounted Kindle Fire, they’ve drawn the word “Thanks!”

Amazon writes thanks on discounted Kindle Fire

Amazon Announces Surprise Thanksgiving Deals!

Amazon discounts Kindle Fire for Cyber Monday - gift-wrapped for Christmas deal shoppers

Amazon’s offering a 30% discount on every book in their store! (“Take an extra 30% off any book offered by Amazon.com,” reads an announcement they’ve tacked onto every page in the store…) It’s just one of several special offers they’re offering for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which also include big savings on Kindles.

For a shortcut to Amazon’s book discount, just point your web browser to

Amazon’s also offering special pricing on their Kindle Fire HD. The big 8.9-inch device (with a high-definition color screen) has been reduced to just $229. That’s what it’d normally cost just for the 7-inch version of Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HDX. Amazon lowered the price when they added these tablets to their list of holiday gift suggestions.

For a shortcut to all of Amazon’s Kindle tablets, point your web browser to

Amazon’s also offering 30% discounts on their Kindle DX. WIth a 9.7-inch e-ink screen, it’s the largest Kindle available — and they’ve reduced its price to just $169. Currently you can also buy a used Kindle DX for just $133. This has always been my personal favorite Kindle — because the only thing better than an e-ink screen is a giant e-ink screen! :)

Kindle DX discount

Of course, Amazon’s not the only one offering discounts this weekend. Best Buy’s web site will also let you purchase a Kindle for just $49. And while supplies last, Staples will sell you an original color Kindle Fire tablet for just $79. If you to go an Office Depot store, they’re currently selling the same model for just $139

So if you’re looking for a good deal this holiday, there’s some great prices on Amazon Kindles!

Get a New Kindle Fire for $169!

July 4th Kindle Fire HD sale at Amazon

Wow! Amazon’s just announced a big $30 discount on their 7-inch Kindle Fire HD tablets. Normally they’d cost $199, but Amazon’s just lowered their price to just $169. “Save $30 on the ultimate HD experience,” reads the announcement on the front page of Amazon.com.

For a shortcut, just point your web browser to

This is a “limited time offer,” Amazon warns in the fine print, so I can’t say how long this offer is going to last. One shopping site reported this was part of Amazon’s larger sale for the 4th of July — though they had trouble getting that officially confirmed. (“Amazon does not provide an end date for this Kindle Fire sale,” they noted in their article, adding that “We contacted them to ask about this, but have not received a response by publication time…”)

Amazon’s also giving away $5.00 worth of free game and app downloads now with each Kindle Fire through their special “Amazon Coins” program. If you already own a Kindle Fire, Amazon’s already applied that credit to your account, but it’s nice to see that they’re also making the same offer available to new Kindle Fire owners. Remember, you can browse Amazon’s selection of apps for the Kindle FIie at tinyurl.com/FreeAmazonApps. And the apps will also run on Android smartphones and tablets.

It’s nice to save $30 on a Kindle Fire – and it’s a bigger discount than Amazon usually offers. On Mother’s Day, Amazon announced a special code for a twenty-dollar discount on a Kindle Fire. Usually Amazon only offers larger discounts are only available on the expensive large-screen Kindle Fire tablets — like the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD.

Maybe Amazon’s calculated that they’ll earn back that $30 when their customers start using the tablets to buy all their ebooks (plus music and videos) from Amazon. Or maybe they’re just willing to lose a little money if it gives them a chance to steal some customers from other tablets, like the iPad and the Nook. But whatever Amazon’s game plan, they managed to sum up the significance of this sale in just three words they’re displaying now on their page for the Kindle Fire HD.

“You save $30…”

For a shortcut, just point your web browser to

Amazon Offers Kindle Fire Discounts for Father’s Day

Father's Day Kindle Fire HD and tie as a gift

Father’s Day is this Sunday, and Amazon celebrates the holiday each year with a tradition of their own — with sales on Kindles! This year, Amazon is discounting the high-definition version of their Kindle Fire tablets, hoping people will buy one as a gift for their dad. It’s the third year Amazon’s offered some kind of Kindle discount as the holiday approaches, with savings of up to 20%.

For a shortcut to this year’s discount, point your browser to

Amazon’s lowered the price by $20 on all three versions of their Kindle Fire HD tablets — including the standard 7-inch model (which usually sells for $199). Both of the larger 8.9-inch versions are also eligible for the $20 discount — including the one with the built-in 4G wireless connectivity. (All you have to do to claim the discount is enter the code DADSFIRE when you’re checking out — so be sure you’re not using Amazon’s “One Click” button to make your purchase!) I’ve read the terms and conditions, but it’s mostly the standard disclaimers — that the discount is only available “while supplies last”. And they’re limiting it to just one Kindle per customer — I guess on the assumption that you only have one dad!

Of course, Amazon’s also offering discounts on other products, too. Today the front page of Amazon.com is promising “Big Savings on select Samsung HDTVs”. Even the clothing area of the site has a promotion offering “laid-back gift ideas, like classic Levi’s and more.” I checked for special offers in the Kindle Store, too, but the only thing unusual that I saw on its front page was a selection of “Classic Westerns by Louis L’Amour” — as well as a selection of 20 of Amazon’s top-rated Western ebooks. I was surprised that they didn’t even mention in the Kindle Store that you could save $20 if you purchased a high-definition Kindle Fire tablet!

But at least they’re mentioning it on the front page of Amazon — where they’re calling it the perfect gift for dad.

Father's Day Kindle Fire HD discount

Browse Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD discounts at

Amazon Launches 14 Free TV Shows

Amazon Originals TV shows

Amazon’s been offering videos through an online store that you can watch on your Kindle Fire (or in a web browser, or even in an Amazon video app). The service launched in 2006, but Friday Amazon took a big step in a new direction. They released 14 new TV shows which were all created by Amazon. The first episode of each show is available for free in the Kindle Fire’s video store, and online at a special “Amazon Originals” web site.

To watch the shows online, just point your browser to tinyurl.com/WatchAmazonTV

“You decide which shows become a series,” Amazon promises on their web site. There’s eight different original comedies, including one from the Onion News Network, plus an intriguing new comedy called Browsers, created by David Javerbaum, a writer for Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. His show follows a group of interns at a daily news show called The Daily Gush, and it’s directed by Don Scardino, who also directs another popular TV show that’s set behind-the-scenes at a comedy show: 30 Rock. I’m impressed that for the show, Amazon got an actress I’ve actually heard of — Bebe Neuwirth — and there’s even some hip songs scattered throughout Browsers episodes. (The show’s trailer describes it as a “streaming workplace comedy musical”.)

There’s also a new comedy starring John Goodman, and written by Garry Trudeau, the creator of the Doonesbury comic strip. It’s called Alpha House, and it follows four Senators in Washington D.C. who all end up living together in the same rented house. A disclaimer in front of the first episode warns that it contains graphic language and content that “may not be suitable for all audiences,” but the photography is really good, and I laughed out loud at John Goodman’s first scene, where he wakes up one of his roommates — played by Bill Murray — to ask him about the police cars and television news cameras that are swarming outside their apartment. “Hey Vern, were you by any chance scheduled to turn yourself in to the Department of Justice today?” Goodman asks — and the oversleeping Senator responds with a long stream of anguished profanities…

Amazon’s original TV shows also include two new animated series. Dark Minions is written by two actors from The Big Bang Theory — Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie — and it’s a comedy about two slackers who just happen to work on an intergalactic warship. (The show’s tagline is “Rules, reports, a Galactic Overlord… just another day at the office.”) And another animated original show, Supanatural, follows “two outspoken divas who are humanity’s last line of defense against the supernatural, when they’re not working at the mall,” according to the description at Amazon. It’s co-produced by Kristen Schaal, a commentator on The Daily Show, and a quote from the first episode suggests it’ll be delivering some very unusual plots. (“It’s not just an ancient doomsday artifact, it’s a hater. That’s why it must be destroyed.”)

There’s a total of eight new comedies, including one set in Silicon Valley, where according to ambitious app developer, “investors are buying napkin sketches from high school drop-outs”. (I like that Amazon’s creating a show that’s about new technologies — or at least, the people who try to build them, with a preview that teased “These aren’t alpha males, they’re betas…the little guy with the big idea.”) There’s also another comedy which follows the lives of teachers with a very clever title — Those That Can’t. And believe it or not, the last comedy is a continuation of the 2009 movie Zombieland, which Wikipedia points out was America’s top-grossing zombie comedy of all-time.

Amazon’s also released six different TV shows for children, most of which seem to be animated. But some of them seem use Pixar-style computer animation, like Tumbleleaf which follows the magical life of a character named Fig the Fox. I have to admit I was intrigued by Positively Ozitively, which promises new adventures in the land of Oz. And One of the creators of Blue’s Clues has created a new show for Amazon called Creative Galaxy, while another Blues Clues creator teamed up with a producer from Arthur and Curious George to create an educational mystery show called Sara Solves It!

There’s just two live-action childrens show — Annebots — about a little girl who builds three robots in the back of her dad’s junk yard, in a show that “aims to introduce kids to science and technology in a fun, new way.” But there’s also a new one from the Jim Henson Company which is using muppet-like puppets, called Teeny Tiny Dogs. It’s preview is fascinating, promising that the show taps into the latest research on educating children, to create a show teaching the essential life skills for happiness. Its first episode is 12 minutes long, offering a “work in progress” glimpse at what the series would look like, mixing footage of puppets with some animated place-holders for what the final scenes will eventually look like. But it’s really fun to see their puppet doing all the things that real dogs do, and the overall tone of the show looks very sweet.

So now besides Kindle ebooks, Amazon’s also offering you TV shows!

Sunday Sale on Oscar-winning Movies for Kindle

Marilyn Monroe movie poster

Today only, Amazon’s discounting over 100 Oscar-winning movies to just $3.99 for their online and app-based “Instant Video”! And you can download high-definition versions of the same movies for just $2.00. The movies will look great on your Kindle Fire (or Kindle Fire HD) tablet, but you can also watch them online. Amazon’s selling the discounted videos through their “Instant Video” store, which means you can also watch them online at video.amazon.com!

For a shortcut to the sale, just point your browser to tinyurl.com/399OscarMovies. (Remember, this is a special one-day-only sale.) Amazon’s timed it to coincide with Sunday’s Broadcast of the 85th Academy Awards. But fortunately, they’re also offering discounts on some past Oscar-winning movies.

Here’s a complete list of all of the great movies Amazon’s discounted to just $3.99…

Saving Private Ryan
Midnight in Paris
Forrest Gump
The Godfather
The Social Network
The King’s Speech
Fiddler on the Roof
Apollo 13
The Artist
The Usual Suspects
My Cousin Vinny
Slumdog Millionaire
Black Swan
My Week With Marilyn
Dances With Wolves
The Silence of the Lambs
Inside Job
Rain Man
West Side Story
War Games
Master and Commander
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Little Miss Sunshine
The Iron Lady
Some Like It Hot
Twelve Angry Men
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Out of Africa
Scent of a Woman
Erin Brockovich
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
All About Eve
King Kong
Coal Miner’s Daughter
The Invisible War
The Alamo
Babette’s Feast
Blue Valentine
The Madness of King George
The Big Country
A Separation
The Poseidon Adventure
Wall Street
Blue Velvet
Samurai Trilogy Part 1: Musashi Miyamoto
In the Heat of the Night
Ghost World
The Last King of Scotland
The Hustler
The French Connection
The Thomas Crown Affair
Hotel Rwanda
Henry V
A Fish Called Wanda
Irma La Douce
The Red Shoes
Rob Roy
Brokeback Mountain
The Devil and Daniel Webster
Leaving Las Vegas
Birdman of Alcatraz
Lillies of the Field
The Visitor
The Time of Harvey Milk
A Hole in the Head
The Constant Gardener
The Tin Drum
Born on the 4th of July
In a Better World
Midnight Cowboy
The French Lieutenant’s Woman
King Kong
Black Orpheus
The Woman in Red
Bowling for Columbine
Tom Jones
Six Degrees of Separation
The Defiant Ones
The Barefoot Contessa
I Want to Live
Separate Tables
The Purple Rose of Cairo

Remember, for a shortcut just point your browser to tinyurl.com/399OscarMovies

Amazon’s Fun Free Kindle Christmas Games

Amazon Kindle game Picture Perfect Holiday Puzzles menu screenshot

Amazon has now released 18 different free games, and last year they released two that were designed especially for the holiday season! “We were going to wait to start talking about the holidays, but this new free game for Kindle is getting us in the spirit a little early,” read one announcement on the Kindle’s page on Facebook. “Check it out for yourself, but don’t blame us if you suddenly get the urge to start stringing lights and singing carols!”

That new game was “Picture Perfect Holiday Puzzles,” and within four hours of the announcement, it had already earned 208 “Like” votes and drawn 35 enthusiastic comments. (Like the woman in Minnesota who posted “OMG! OMG! OMG! This is my all time FAVORITE Kindle game, I’ve been waiting for a Part 2 forever!! YESSSS!!!!!!!”) It was a “sequel” to a free game Amazon released called simply “Picture Perfect Puzzles”. In both those games, users try to form a picture by darkening all the correct squares in a grid, making logical deductions from clues showing the number of squares that need darkening in each row and column. But for the second “holiday” version, Amazon created 35 more puzzles, each one with a fun holiday theme. (The puzzles were grouped into six categories: Winter Begins, Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Continues, Kwanzaa, and New Years.)

And would you like to write to Santa Claus? There’s an app for that — at least, if you own a Kindle Fire tablet (or an iPad). Last Christmas, Amazon announced a free Santa app to create holidays wish lists, “for children and their parents…to share with friends, family and Mr. Claus.” They’ve identified more than half a million popular “kid-friendly” items available on Amazon, and according to the director of Amazon Mobile, the apps makes it “fun, easy and intuitive for kids to find exactly what they want.” Just point your browser to amazon.com/santa_app

There’s books, of course, but also toys, games, video games, music, and even movies and TV shows — and you can browse the individual categories or search for specific items. By secretly tracking which gifts have been purchased, it can helip different relatives avoid buying the same gift, and Amazon says the app offers “a great way for parents to spend some quality time with their kids…”

And, “to help make certain there’s a smile Christmas morning.”

Fun With Amazon’s Customer Support

Tom the cat chases Jerry the cartoon mouse

I laughed so hard on Saturday night. And I’ve got a great little story about Amazon’s customer support. I don’t usually share personal stories, but this one feels like it’s worth an exception. It all started because it had been a long weekend, and I’d just wanted to curl up and watch a video on my Kindle Fire…

Unfortunately, the Kindle’s video store ended up warning me that the video I’d ordered was taking longer than expected to download – and then never delivering it! It wouldn’t let me place the order again, but the video still wasn’t showing up. I’d tried Amazon’s web site, but got the exact same error message. So I clicked on the “help” link — and that’s when the fun began…

Now let me explain something. It was raining, and after running around town doing holiday errands, I’d just wanted to relax. And I’d rememered that Amazon gave me a $3.00 credit for videos for my Kindle Fire, but I only had one more day to use it. I’d spent $2.00 to watch an episode of South Park, but there was still $1.00 left. And I’d wanted to watch something comforting, maybe an old favorite from my childhood…

It turns out that one of Amazon’s options for customer support was to have an online chat in real-time. And yes, I wanted my video and I wanted it now, so it seemed like the best solution. Besides, I could test Amazon’s customer support, to see just how good they are at troubleshooting. And I was impressed that someone turned up right away — though since it was 7 p.m. on a Saturday, I suspected he might be in India…

“You are now connected to Saransh from Amazon.com,” explained the text that Amazon displayed in a chat window on the screen. And I was a little embarrassed about having to admit what I’d been trying to watch to a live person. “I ordered a Tom & Jerry cartoon on my Kindle Fire,” I explained sheepishly, “but it keeps giving me an error about how it’s taking longer to arrive than expected…”

“A member of our Amazon Instant Video team will need to help you with this,” Saransh typed, adding “Please hold while I transfer you. One of our Amazon Instant Video Specialists will assist you shortly.”

All this fuss over a cat-and-mouse cartoon from the 1940s, I thought to myself. But I was really impressed at the instant customer support Amazon was providing. And I didn’t have to wait too much longer before another support association started typing in the window. His name was Sneha, and he typed hello, then added, “I will look into this straight away for you. May I place you on hold for two minutes, while I look into this?”

“Hi Sneha,” I typed, not sure how friendly I was supposed to be. “Sure. Go ahead.” And he began researching the problem.

His first search seemed to come up empty-handed. “I do not see the order on your account pertaining to Tom and Jerry,” Sneha typed. “Were you able to place to place the order or you were in the process of doing that?” But then he typed, “Okay. I see the order now. Sorry…” Unfortunately, by then I was already typing away.

“I placed the order on my Kindle Fire, and also tried again on video.amazon.com.” I realized that I hadn’t given him the exact title, so I also typed in. “It’s called ‘Puss Gets the Boot.’ Tom & Jerry are just the name of the characters…” But then I realized he didn’t need anything that I’d typed. Look at me, I thought, jabbering away with all this extraneous info…

“Yes, I got it ,” Sneha typed. “Thank you :)” So then, just for laughs, I typed…

“Tom is the cat, and Jerry is the mouse.”

I described the whole surreal moment to my girlfriend, and then joked about even more extraneous things I could’ve typed into the chat window, if I’d wanted to seem like even more of a clueless user. “They chase each other around. The cat is grey. See if you can find a cartoon like that. Because it’s probably them…”

And we laughed and laughed…

But I really have to hand it to Sneha, because he did solve my problem almost instantly. He told me to log out of the Instant Video page on Amazon, and to basically try turning my Kindle Fire off and on. My girlfriend joked that it was like the catch-all advice that was always offered by the geeks in a British sitcom called The IT Crowd — but in this case, it really worked. The video page on my Kindle Fire now showed one more video in my library: the Tom and Jerry cartoon Puss Gets the Boot.

And not only did Amazon solve my problem immediately, but Sneha also endeared himself to me with the way he responded after I’d explained that Tom was the cat, and Jerry was the mouse. He typed back into Amazon’s support window…

“Its my favorite cartoon show…”

Amazon discounts Kindle Fire for Cyber Monday!

Cyber Monday Kindle Fire deal

For Cyber Monday, Amazon’s selling a Kindle Fire tablet for just $129! For a shortcut to the deal, just go to tinyurl.com/KindleFireMonday. Just enter the code “FIREDEAL” to claim the discount when you’re checking out.

And thousands of Kindle books are also at least 80% off.
Check out the selection at Tinyurl.com/MondayEbookDeal

Amazon discounts Kindle Fire for Cyber Monday - gift-wrapped for Christmas deal shoppers

Amazon waited until Sunday night to announce that they were going to be discounting their Kindle Fire tablets on Monday morning, as part of a special “Cyber Monday” sale. “Is Kindle Fire on your holiday shopping list?” they teased in a special announcement on Twitter. “Visit us on Cyber Monday to get our most affordable tablet at our lowest price of the year.”

Amazon announces Kindle Fire deal on Twitter

The announcement happened at 7:50 p.m., Pacific Time, and at that exact moment, Amazon also posted a nearly identical announcement on the Facebook page for the Kindle Fire. (“Is Kindle Fire on your holiday shopping list…?”) And within 15 minutes, more than 2,000 different people had already clicked Facebook’s “Like” icon for the announcement.

Cyber Monday sale on Kindle Fire announced on Facebook

That’s not surprising — more than 1.1 million people have already subscribed to Facebook’s status updates for the Kindle Fire. And within a half an hour, nearly 100 of them had shared Amazon’s announcement with their Facebook friends, so there will be a lot of people snatching up Amazon’s Kindle when the discounted price is finally announced on Saturday morning!

I’ve been wondering if Amazon is going to run out of their Kindle tablets before Christmas. This weekend I discovered that they’ve already sold out of the Kindle Paperwhite, and won’t be shipping any new ones until December 21st. A few days ago, Amazon even posted that their $69 Kindle was now only expected to ship “in 1 to 2 weeks”. Even now that that Kindle is back in stock, Amazon’s limiting orders to just two per customer. So if you’re shopping for a Kindle, move fast!

Amazon clearly doesn’t have enough Kindles on hand to keep up with the popular demand. And with Monday’s discount on the Kindle Fire, they’re about to become even more popular…!

For a shortcut to the deal, just go to tinyurl.com/KindleFireMonday.

Kindle Fire Discounts Announced for Black Friday

Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet

Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet is the hottest gift this shopping season — and some great discounts have just been announced for Black Friday. To get these reduced prices, you’ll have to visit one of Amazon’s retail-store partners, like Best Buy, OfficeMax, Staples, or Office Depot. They’re reportedly not allowed to lower the actual price of the devices, so they’re doing the next best thing. If you purchase a Kindle Fire tablet, they’ll just give you some money back in the form of a gift card!

Here’s a complete rundown of all the discounts being offered on Black Friday for Kindle Fire tablets — and I’ve collected and confirmed them from reliable sources like Yahoo! Finance News. But remember that Amazon’s already offered at least one short-lived discount of their own. Earlier this month, Amazon reportedly sold Kindle Fire tablets for just $129 as one of their Lightning Deals (following a strict philosophy of “while supplies last”). So it’s always possible that when Black Friday rolls around, Amazon will unveil another stash of cheap Kindle Fire tablets — just to compete with these deals from Best Buy, Office Max, and Staples!

Best Buy Logo

Best Buy
$200 = $30 “gift card” and an Amazon Kindle Fire HD (7-inch high-definition display, 16 gigabytes)

$159 = $30 “gift card” and a Kindle Fire (7-inch LCD display, 8 gigabytes)

“That beats both deals from Staples and OfficeMax,” reports the Christian Science Monitor, noting that those two stores “only bundle it with $20 and $25 gift cards, respectively.” (But they’re also advising readers to see if Amazon.com will offer an even bigger deal…)

And if you buy the cheapest one, you’ll end up walking home with an improved version of last year’s model of the Kindle Fire for just $129.

The OfficeMax Logo

$199 = $25 “gift card” and an Amazon Kindle Fire HD (7-inch high-definition display, 16 gigabytes)

This information comes straight from Office Max themselves (via a press release on Yahoo! Finance News). And in addition to their discounts on the Kindle Fire HD, Office Max is also offering a 40% discount on cases for your Kindle Fire (from the case-manufacturer Belkin).

Office Depot Logo

Office Depot

$159 = $25 Visa card and a Kindle Fire

ZDNet is reporting this information came from a leaked version of the newspaper ad that Office Depot will be running for its Black Friday sales. “Office Depot has to sell Kindle Fires at the same price as competing bricks-and-mortar retailers,” writes their reporter Sean Pornoy “so it’s also dangling an incentive to purchase at its locations: You can get a $25 Visa gift card with the purchase of the second-generation Kindle Fire (non-HD version) for $159.99.

Staples Logo

$159 – $20 “gift card” and a Kindle Fire (7-inch LCD display, 8 gigabytes)

$199 – $20 “gift card” and a Kindle Fire HD (7-inch high-definition display, 16 gigabytes)

$249 – $20 “gift card” and a Kindle Fire (7-inch high-definition display, 32 gigabytes)

“Like other retailers…” reports PC Magazine, “Staples won’t be discounting Amazon’s Kindle lineup, but it will throw in a $20 gift card when you buy the 7-inch Kindle Fire or Kindle Fire HD.”

Amazon’s Black Friday Deals are Already Here

Amazon.com shipping boxes

Amazon’s starting a new tradition that they’re calling “Black Friday Deals Week”. They’re offering big discounts right now of up to 50% on computers and accessories, for example, and even high-demand gift items like laptops and tablets. All the deals appear on a special “Black Friday Sales” web page that used to say “Countdown to Black Friday.” But now (according to Amazon), the magic day is already here!

“You shouldn’t have to stand in a long line to get a great deal,” Amazon explains – and they’re not just discounting their own products. “We’ve been searching for the best Black Friday deals everywhere – including Black Friday deals other stores are planning–so we can bring them to you even earlier.” There may be a limited supply of the discounted items, Amazon warns, “but we’ll add new ones throughout the day, every day, so you can skip the long lines and still save a bundle.” My only question: Does that make this “Black Monday”?

I already see discounts of “up to 50%” on some Panasonic cameras. (For example, there’s a model called the Lumix DMC-GH2KK which normally costs $999, and Amazon’s selling it for just $499.99.) There’s three other Panasonic cameras that have been discounted by $220, and the savings are even bigger in the laptop section. A 15.6 inch ASUS laptop now costs just $399 — a 33% discount from its usual price of $599.

And if you’ve ever wanted ASUS’s high-end “Republic of Gamers” laptop, this is your chance. They normally cost $1,699, but Amazon’s offering them at a $420 discount. Plus, there’s also big discounts on monitors. (For example, a 24-inch widescreen monitor from Viewscreen now costs just $179, a 52% discount from its usual price of $368.)

But the biggest surprise is that Amazon is discounting tablet computers that compete directly with the Kindle Fire. A 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 now costs just $179 — a 28% discount from its usual price of $249 — and even the 10-inch model is being discounted $100 from its usual price of $399. Plus, there’s even a 23% discount on solar keyboard folio for the iPad! Does this make you wonder if Amazon’s holding back a big discount of their own for later in the week?

All year long I’ve been waiting for one specific piece of news: that Amazon’s finally going to offer a big discount on their Kindle Fire tablets during the week of Black Friday. Last year they surprised everyone with a 32% discount on the big-screen Kindle DX on Thanksgiving Day, and then on Black Friday also slashed the price on the “previous generation” of their Kindle Keyboard to just $79. And exactly one year before, in 2010, Amazon also made big cuts in the price of their “previous-generation” Kindle Keyboards to just $89. (This was at a time when the Kindle 3 cost $139.)

It drives me crazy, because I know Amazon’s planning a big “anchor” discount for this year’s Black Friday sales. But will it be a Kindle Fire tablet, a Kindle Paperwhite, or one of the older Kindle keyboards — or another model of the Kindle? I’d be happy if Amazon just brought back the Kindle Touch for one last hurrah.

But all we know for sure is that, according to Amazon, Black Friday “Deals Week” has already begun!

Check out Amazon’sspecial Black Friday Deals Week page at

Superman Comes to the Kindle

Cover of Superman - Action Comics 1 - 2011 - Grant Morrison - Kindle Fire

“From Batman to Superman,” Amazon announces on a new web page, “individual issues of your favorite comics are now available on Kindle.” And many of them cost just 99 cents — which is actually cheaper than the printed comic books! It’s a new direction for Amazon, and it may offer a hint about their hopes for the next generation of Kindles.

Check out Amazon’s complete selection at tinyurl.com/KindleComicBooks

I’m surprised that these single-issue comics are only listed as available for the Kindle Fire and Android devices, since it’s also possible to read graphic novels on the Kindle Paperwhite and the regular $69 Kindle. But I’m guessing Amazon will extend their availability sometime in the near future — and in the meantime, I’ll be enjoying single issues of comic books using the Kindle app for my smartphone. Graphics seem to be a new priority for Amazon, maybe because they’re hoping to compete with Apple’s iPad tablets. Amazon’s release notes for their “Kindle for Android” app already brag that it supports “illustrated children’s books, comic books, and graphic novels, including fixed-layout books.”

Now with single-issue comic books, Amazon is trying to open up a whole new “category” of things you can download to your Kindle. Most of the titles are from D.C. Comics — I’m seeing Green Lantern, the Justice League, Batman, and a series called “Arrow” (following the character Green Arrow/Oliver Queen.) But I was also intrigued to see Swamp Thing and J. Michael Straczynski’s Before Watchmen: Moloch #1″. Amazon’s only showing 69 different comic books now that you can buy for your Kindle — but I’m guessing that’s because Amazon’s just opened this online store. In the months to come, they should be selling both new issues and back issues, which should expand the selection quite a bit.

In fact, every single one of the titles from D.C. Comics will be available for the Kindle, according to a press release last Wednesday. And they’ll also be available through Apple’s iBookstore and the Nook Store. “As e-readers and tablets continue to explode in popularity, it’s important for us to offer consumers convenience and choice in how they download digital comics and graphic novels,” said an executive from D.C. Publishing, “and these new distribution deals with the top three e-bookstores do just that.”

Right now I’m just happy that they’re headed in that direction – because there’s still a geek inside of me who enjoys reading comic books. There’s been a debate in the comic book industry about how the big publishers can increase their sales. But maybe Amazon’s offering their own answer: that comic books should “go digital”.

Check out Amazon’s selection at tinyurl.com/KindleComicBooks

Single Issue Comic Books for Kindle Fire and Android

Can the Kindle Catch the iPad?

Apple iPad in a hand

There’s an old saying that journalists love a horse race. Current events are more interesting when there’s one side that’s winning and one side that’s losing. That’s why blogs like to focus on the “war” between the iPad and Amazon’s own Kindle Fire tablets. Unfortunately, neither company releases their sales figures, but periodically you’ll get some good estimates from the “market analysts” at professional research firms.

And that’s what happened on Monday, when some surprising new numbers were released by the technology analysts at IDC. It’s a research firm that focuses specifically on consumer technology, and they’d made two interesting observations. In just three months — July, August, and September — they’re estimating that 27.8 million tablet computers were sold. And that means that nearly three tablets were sold this year for every two tablets that were sold in the same period in 2011.

Even if you just compare tablet sales to the previous three months, total tablet sales have now still increased by 6.7%. But what’s even more interesting is that Apple’s share of the tablet market is getting smaller, IDC notes. According to their calculations, more customers are now choosing instead to buy devices with the “Android” operating system — like Amazon’s Kindle Fire!

Of the 27.8 million tablets sold between July and September, 14 million of them were from Apple (all the various versions of the iPad). That barely gives Apple half of the new sales for tablet computers, with a share of 50.4% (versus 65.6% in the previous three months). The next-biggest vendor was Samsung, who sold 18.4% of the tablet computers bought between July and September. But Amazon’s share of the market during that same period was 9% — which was nearly double what it had been in the previous three months!

That may not sound like much, but Amazon waited until September, the last month in the quarter, before announcing their newest tablets. “Here’s why Amazon’s tablet share is going dramatically higher,” writes a blogger at ZDNet, noting that Amazon’s newest version of their Kindle Fire tablet can compete with the iPad on both price and features. He also notes that during September, Amazon was only selling their Kindle Fire HD tablets within the United States. But as Amazon expands their sales to the rest of the globe, their share of the market should increase.

Of course, there’s also another story behind Apple’s figures, according to the analysis by IDC. “We believe a sizeable percentage of consumers interested in buying an Apple tablet sat out the third quarter, in anticipation of an announcement about the new iPad mini. Now that the new Mini, and a fourth-generation full-sized iPad, are both shipping we expect Apple to have a very good quarter.” But they note that the iPad Mini is still relatively expensive at $329, which opens up a market opportunity for Amazon and their Kindle Fire tablets.

Now with the Christmas shopping season approaching, IDC reports that Apple’s missteps “leave plenty of room” for companies like Amazon to “build upon the success they achieved in the third quarter!”

Free Halloween Kindle Fire/Android app – with Charlie Brown!

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown Halloween Kindle Fire Android app

Here’s a Halloween surprise! Amazon’s giving away a free app today for both Kindle Fire and Android devices. And it’s a special Halloween app that’s sure to bring back some fond memories of hallowed evenings past. The name of the free app they’re giving away?

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”

You can download the free app today in Amazon’s app store. (For a shortcut, just point your web browser to tinyurl.com/CharlieHalloween .) It’s an interactive version of the famous TV special that finds Linus spending Halloween night in a pumpkin patch. You can actually poke your fingers into the drawings, to make all the Peanuts characters jiggle around. And it’s narrated by Peter Robbins, who provided the voice for Charlie Brown in the original 1966 TV special!

Because it’s an Android app, you can play it on your Kindle Fire or any Android phone. And I was impressed by the smooth interface, which includes an old vinyl record on the game’s menu page to represent the narration (which you can turn on and off). It’s got all the sequences you remember from the TV special, with some of the artwork laid out like a newspaper comic strip. It was a real thrill to see Charlie Brown’s pile of autumn leaves again — and then to see Linus trying to jump into it while holding a wet lollipop!

If you don’t have a Kindle Fire, there’s still some other Halloween games available at Amazon. Yesterday I wrote about “Futoshiki Halloween Edition, and there’s also a Halloween version of the game Blossom. There’s even a Halloween version of Mahjong Solitaire, and if you’re looking for something scarier, there’s also a text adventure “Choice of the Zombies”.

But I have fond childhood memories of watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”. So if you’ve always wanted a free app that revives this Halloween tradition…there’s a special treat waiting for you tonight in Amazon’s appstore.

Remember, for a shortcut, just point your web browser to tinyurl.com/CharlieHalloween

Amazon Gives Away Free Audiobooks!

Commuting woman in Amazon Audible audiobook ad showing WhisperSync for voice

This is pretty exciting. Amazon’s giving away free audiobook versions of 20 different books. There’s an Agatha Christie mystery, the original Dracula (and Frankenstein), plus audiobook versions of 17 more classic books. You can find links to the audiobooks when you browse their free ebook versions at tinyurl.com/FreeKindleAudiobooks

And the readers for these books aren’t just professional audiobook narrators. Some of them are actually Hollywood movie actors! For example, the audiobook version of Heart of Darkness is performed by Kenneth Branagh, who’s been nominated for an Academy Award five different times. And there’s also an audiobook version of Agatha Christie’s first novel with her character Hercule Poirot — narrated by David Suchet, the actor who actually played Hercule Perot on public television’s Mystery Theatre!

Amazon’s even giving away a free version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz read by Anne Hathaway, an actress who’s appeared in everything from The Princess Diaries to The Devil Wears Prada. There’s also a free audiobook version of Gulliver’s Travels read by David Hyde Pierce, who’s won four Emmys for his performance as Niles Crane on the TV show Frasier. With Halloween coming up, you might also want to download the free audiobook version of Dracula by Bram Stoker. It’s read by a long list of narrators that includes Tim Curry — who played the lurking evil in the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s It, and starred as the crazed libertine scientist in the The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Why is Amazon doing this? To show off a brand new feature they’re making available for audiobooks that’s called “Whispersync for Voice”. Now if you’re reading the text of an ebook on any Kindle, you can instantly switch over to its audiobook version on your Kindle tablet (or in a Kindle app). And the audiobook’s narrator will continue reading right where you left off!

“Most people I know believe that if they only had more time to read, they would be more imaginative, more interesting, and more successful,” the founder of Audible.com said in a press release. “Whispersync for Voice directly addresses that need. The ability to seamlessly switch back and forth between reading text on any Kindle and listening to the same title in audio on your smartphone [or on your Kindle Fire tablet]– and always pick up where you left off — means that the story can continue during those times of the day when you cannot look at a screen.” It’s a feature that’s exclusively available on the Kindle, with specially-enabled ebooks that are sold through Amazon’s Kindle Store.

On the Audible web site, there’s a video showing a young woman enjoying The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, and then continuing to listen to it on her headphones as she commutes in to work. (You can watch the video at audible.com/wsv, which also includes a demonstration of the technology using The Hunger Games.) This new Whispersync for Voice feature is now already available for nearly 15,000 different Kindle ebook/audiobook combinations on Amazon.com, according to their press release, and Audible’s founder drove home the point that it’ll make life easier for Kindle owners. “We think that Whispersync for Voice can help us all enjoy more books, which is good news indeed.”

And Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s own founder and CEO, added “Anyone who wants more time to read, or never wants to put a great book down because it’s time to drive to work or exercise, will love Whispersync for Voice – it offers our customers the profound gift of more time to read.”

 Below is a list of the 20 ebook/audiobook combinations which Amazon’s giving away for free “for a limited time.” Only 18 of them are listed at tinyurl.com/FreeKindleAudiobooks. The other two free combinations are The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (narrated by Simon Prebble) and The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (which T.S. Eliot described as “the first and greatest of English detective novels”).

But the 18 ebooks below are all also available for free (with free narration) at tinyurl.com/FreeKindleAudiobooks

Dracula by Bram Stoker with a list of narrators that includes Tim Curry (As well as Alan Cumming, Simon Vance, Katherine Kellgren, Susan Duerden, John Lee, Graeme Malcolm, Steven Crossley, and James Adams)

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (narrated by David Suchet, who played Hercule Perot on public television’s Mystery Theatre)

The Sign of the Four, a Sherlock Holmes mystery by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (narrated by Patrick Tull)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (narrated by Anne Hathaway)
Gulliver’s Travels (narrated by David Hyde Pierce)
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (narrated by Kenneth Branagh)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (narrated by Simon Vance)
Moby Dick by Herman Melville (narrated by Frank Muller)
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (narrated by John Lee)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (narrated by Elijah Wood)
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (narrated by Simon Vance)
David Copperfield (narrated by Simon Vance)
The Wind in the Willows (narrated by Shelly Frasier
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (narrated by Nathaniel Parker)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (narrated by John Lee)
House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (narrated by Wanda McCaddon)
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (narrated by Davina Porter)
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (narrated by Scott Brick)
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (narrated by James Langton)
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (narrated by Simon Prebble)

Consumer Reports likes the new Kindle Fire

Consumer Reports logo

Amazon’s latest tablets just received some great new reviews from a prestigious source.Consumer Reports magazine performed tests on 55 different tablet devices, and this week they’re finally annoucing the results. “Amazon and Samsung Models Stand Out in the Ratings,” reads the headline at their web site. “A Kindle Fire is the least-expensive tablet we’ve ever recommended.”

In fact, Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HD is described as “among the best 7-inch tablets on the market.” Out of all the 7-inch tablets they’d tested, it was the Kindle Fire HD that had the longest battery life. The magazine also had nice things to say about the cheaper $159 Kindle Fire, applauding Amazon’s second-generation version for its longer battery life — though what they really seemed to love best was its $159 price tag. But there’s a different story in the table of ratings in the print edition of Consumer Reports.

In the October issue, only the original version of the Kindle Fire appears to be listed, and at its old price of $200. (Presumably the magazine’s print edition was written before they’d tested the yet-to-be-released Kindle Fire HD.) And at that time, the magazine had only performed tests on 23 different tablets. But they’d already selected five of them for their coveted “best buy” recommendation — and Amazon’s Kindle Fire was one of them.
But the top scores had gone to Google’s Nexus 7 tablet, which they’d actually rated higher for battery life and portability. Out of all their criterion, it received a final score of 80, and even Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 scored higher than the Kindle Fire, with a score of 77 (beating Amazon’s device in the “versatility” category.) The Blackberry Playbook scored higher too, also receiving a better “versatility” rank and achieving a final score of 71. The Kindle Fire’s final score in the October issue of Consumer Reports is listed as just 67.

It still achieved the second-highest possible score in four of the magazine’s five test categories – Ease of Use, Portability, Display, and Touch Response. But it received the middle rating for its versatility. In a way, I’m surprised the magazine even published these results at all.
They’re obsolete almost as soon as the magazine hits the newsstands.

Because within a week or two, Amazon’s going to start shipping out entirely new versions of the Kindle Fire!


Click here to browse Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets


Why Amazon’s Discontinued the Kindle Fire – Three Great Theories

Kindle Fire 1

Amazon’s made two big announcements in the last week – both about their Kindle Fire tablets. And now technology watchers are trying to put the pieces together, offering up their best guess about what Amazon is really up to!

Earlier this month, Amazon was temporarily sold out of their Kindle Touch – and bloggers took it as a sign that Amazon was about to release a new model within a week. Instead, Amazon announced a big press event for September 6th — exactly one week from today. And this morning, the anticipation continued to build as Amazon offered another tantalizing piece of information: that they’d sold every last one of their current Kindle Fire tablets, and they apparently weren’t going to make any more of this model.

“We’re grateful to the millions of customers who have made Kindle Fire the most successful product launch in the history of Amazon…” Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement, confirming Amazon was “sold out” of their current Kindle Fire, but adding that “we have an exciting roadmap ahead…” If you visit the current Kindle Fire’s page on Amazon, you’re now told that they’re available from “these sellers”. Amazon’s basically pointing to people who are selling used Kindle Fire tablets.

But why did Amazon discontinue sales of their original Kindle Fire tablets? Here’s some of the best theories.

Amazon Misjudged Their Own Launch Date
You can’t just stop the production of a technology product with one phone call. Amazon has to scheduled the delivery of all the necessary electronic components well in advance, and the Associated Press seems to think that today’s just the day that the parts ran out. (“Thursday’s announcement that the first model is ‘sold out’ suggests that Amazon halted production a while ago to retool for a new model.”) Unfortunately, this leaves Amazon with no tablets to sell for the next seven days. But maybe Amazon actually has something to gain by halting production…

Amazon’s Deliberately Raising Expectations
Amazon’s comment about an exciting upcoming “road map” seems like a not-so-coy hint that next week’s press conference will be about the next generation of Kindle Fire tablets. And at the technology site Slashdot, at least one poster thinks this is all part of a very deliberate campaign by Amazon. “This development strikes me as a classic ‘Build anticipation for KF2’ thing, not a ‘Phew, we got rid of the things. They were taking up space’ type complaint. ” Next week, when Amazon announces a new tablet, there’ll now be a full week of pent-up demand for a color Kindle tablets.

Amazon’s saving money
I stumbled across an interesting statistic this week. In November, Time magazine’s “Moneyland” site calculated that Amazon was actually losing money with its Amazon Prime shipping service — and that on average, Amazon was losing $11 for each Prime customer. “They must have been subsidizing the Kindle Fire,” argues another commenter at Slashdot. “That’s the only reason I can think of that they would stop making money [by ending Kindle Fire sales early]. It’s like how Microsoft used to lose money on every Xbox sold, or Sony and the PS3. They wanted a foot in the door of the market, and their next offering will be something that makes them money for each unit sold, rather than losing them money.”

What’s the real story? Who knows. But Amazon is obviously planning something big, . And if their plan was to increase the curiousity among Kindle owner — it’s working!

Kindle Fire Prices Drop on the Second-Hand Market

Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet

I’ve been shopping for a Kindle Fire tablet, and I made a startling discovery. You can save a lot of money if you buy a second-hand tablet, either in an auction on eBay, for example, or through an ad on Craigslist. Over the last four days, I’ve checked 35 different auctions on eBay. And the average winning bid for those 35 auctions was just $140!

In fact, 13 different bidders ultimately won a Kindle Fire for less than $140. Two people even won one of Amazon’s color touchscreen tablets for just $113.88, and two more paid just $121. I’ve really been amazed at some of the low prices that bidders are getting on a used Kindle Fire. People have won the eBay auctions with bids of just $126.48 or $127.00, and I saw seven different people win a Kindle Fire tablet with bids between $130 and $139!

It’s a great way to save money, since most bidders end up getting a 30% to 45% discount. In addition, at least some of the auctions include an expensive case (which would normally be sold separately). It’s one of the advantages of buying from a individual, who may just want to get rid of their Kindles and accessories at the same time. Obviously there’s also some people who are selling damaged devices, but each of the 35 auctions that I checked included a Kindle Fire tablet that was fully-functioning, and without any obvious defects (like a scratch on the screen). And they should all be under warranty anyways, since Amazon released these devices less than a year ago.

The prices seem to be even cheaper on Craigslist (though that depends on what city you’re in). And of course, there’s no “selling history” available when you’re shopping on Craigslist. But my girlfriend pointed out the biggest disadvantage of buying a second-hand Kindle now. Soon, Amazon’s expected to release a newer version of the Kindle Fire tablets. So if you buy one now, you’ll be missing out on all the new improvements which are just around the corner!

I think that might explain why the prices are so low on eBay – but I don’t want to wait. And there’s always an easy solution if you purchase a Kindle Fire now, and then decide later that you want to upgrade to the newer model. Let’s say Amazon does release an exciting new model of their color touchscreen tablets sometime in October.

Then you can always go back to eBay, and try to sell off your own Kindle Fire!

Is the Kindle Becoming Less Popular?

Is the Kindle becoming unpopular

There’s been some discouraging headlines. For example, Amazon’s facing new competition for its color Kindle Fire tablets from Google’s new Nexus 7, and there’s even a rumor that Apple will release an “iPad Mini”. “[A]nalysts are beginning to wonder how Amazon will continue to fare in the hyper-competitive market,” warns the executive editor at C|Net, citing an investment analyst who’s just downgraded Amazon’s stock. But that’s only the beginning of the bad news for Amazon…

Target stores have stopped carrying all Kindles, C|Net notes, which obviously gives Amazon fewer places to find new customers. And Amazon’s Kindle Fire may also be stealing attention away from Amazon’s black-and-white e-ink Kindles, according to a new theory from Kevin Kopelman, an analyst at the Cowen Group. According to C|Net’s article, he’s now predicting that Amazon’s Kindle sales will
grow by just 3% in 2012, where before he’d been estimating a massive 30% increase. He’s now calling that “unrealistic,” citing Amazon’s delay in releasing any new Kindles — though he still expects
16.3 million Kindles to be sold in 2012.

It’s not just Google and Apple that are threatening Amazon’s market share. There’s also some interesting statistics about the Kindle’s biggest competitor, the Nook. According to this article, it now accounts for about 25% to 30% of the ebook market. Over the last year, they’ve sold more than twice as many ebooks as the year before, reporting an increase of 119%. Sales of the Nook itself increased by 45%, and Nook-and-ebook sales together increased by even more, up 47.7%, to a total of $1.3 billion!

It’s not just one analyst who’s souring on Amazon’s growth prospects. Another analyst at Pacific Crest has studied Amazon’s supply chain, and is now estimating that Amazon will sell 3 million fewer Kindles than he’d originally expected earlier in the year. He’s still predicting that Amazon could sell up to 15 million Kindle Fires, according to this article at Forbes. And their technology reporter puts all this speculation into perspective. “[W]e will never know if his unit forecasts are right or not..

“Amazon does not report unit sales figures.”

A New Rival for Kindle Fire Tablets

Nexus 7 tablet from Google

Google just announced a new tablet-sized device to compete with the Kindle Fire tablet. Google will release it in about a week, but it’s already getting some great reviews. Amazon had enjoyed one big advantage when competing with Apple’s iPad: their Kindle Fire tablet only cost $199. But Thursday, a New York Times reporter wrote that there’s also a $200 price tag on Google’s new Nexus 7 tablets, which “pretty much blows the Kindle Fire’s value proposition into a cloud of ash.”

Both devices have the same screen size, “but this time, you don’t get any sense that its creators skimped to keep the price down,” writes the Times’ David Pogue. He’s seen the Kindle Fire, which Amazon released last winter, but seems to prefer the designs of Google’s device even better. “It’s sleek and beautiful, with rounded edges, unlike the sawed-off rectangular back of the Fire, and a ‘pleather’ back panel that feels great. And it weighs 2.6 ounces less than the Fire, which makes a world of difference. It’s slightly thinner, too…”

I’m such a Kindle loyalist, that originally I’d laughed off Google’s Nexus tablet. But Kindle owners may be the ones who benefit most, in the long run. For a while we’ve heard rumors that Amazon’s releasing a newer version of their Kindle Fire tablets very soon. But Amazon will have to make their tablets even better if they have to start competing now with a slick, low-priced new tablet from Google.

And in a way, Amazon has already done a big favor for the shoppers who buy tablet devices. The New York Times asked Google’s Nexus team “if it was playing a game of razors-and-blades here, losing money on every tablet with the intention of making money by selling books, movies, music and TV shows.” That’s Amazon’s business model — selling the devices almost at cost – and now it looks like it’s become an industry standard. The Times reports that Google isn’t earning a profit when they sell the tablet, either through their web site or in an offline store…

But what else is there to like, besides the low price, in Google’s new tablet? For starters, there’s a built-in GPS system, which makes it perfect for navigation. (You can even save a city’s worth of Google maps to its drive, so you can navigate without using an internet connection.) The Times’ reporter also liked the way Nexus had a built-in bluetooth and WiFi capabilities, plus a camera in the front of the tablet for making video phone calls.

But there’s still some things he preferred about Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets. With the Nexus 7, you can only download a song that you’ve purchased twice. In Amazon’s store (and in the Apple Store), you can re-download a song whenever you feel like it. And watch out if you want to watch TV shows. Google’s store doesn’t have anything from either CBS or Fox — or from the biggest cable networks, like WB, HBO, and MTV/Nickelodeon. I like the way the reporter ended his article, concluding that the Nexus tablet was “sweet,” with a smoothness to both its hardware and software that rivals Apple’s iPad.

“[I]ts luxury humiliates the Kindle Fire,” he writes, while noting that Google now has to hope that its cool device can attract some cool content into their store. “[I]t’s possible that this tablet may finally help solve Google’s chicken-and-egg problem.

“Maybe once it becomes popular, people will finally start writing decent apps for it, and more movie and music companies will come to the Google Play store.”

Wednesday’s Deal: Get a Kindle Fire tablet for just $139

Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet

For Wednesday only — while supplies last — you can get a refurbished Kindle Fire for just $139!

They were previously owned, but just like with past deals, they’ve all since been tested by Amazon, so they’ll still come with a full one-year warranty, just like a new Kindle Fire tablet! (And since the Kindle Fire was only released on November 15th, none of them are more than five and a half months old!) Normally the Kindle Fire tablets cost $199, so it’s a really nice way to save some money.

There’s a couple of ways to get to the page with the special offer. The easiest is just to go to point your browser to tinyurl.com/KindleFireThursday . That’s the easy-to-remember URL I made last time Amazon had a special price on Kinde Fire tablets – and even though today the sale is on Wednesday, the URL still works! Amazon is also offering the special price through their “Gold Box Deals” page. (“New Deals, Every Day.”) If you go to the same URL on Thursday, there’ll be a different deal — and another one the next day — and there’s also “Lightning Deals” on the same page which last only for an hour or two.

And right now they’re also offering a discount on a sleeve for your new Kindle Fire Tablet…

Remember, all of these deals are “While Supplies Last,” so if there’s something you’re interested in, hurry up and grab it! (That’s part of the fun…) I still haven’t bought a Kindle Fire tablet — but at prices this low, it’s going to be hard to resist!

Amazon Challenged on Prime Video Numbers

The Might Morphing Power Rangers

Since September, Amazon’s been touting the ability to watch videos on their Kindle Fire tablets. And a smaller free video library is also available, both on Kindle Fires and online, for subscribers to Amazon’s Prime shipping service, which offers faster deliveries from Amazon for just $79 a year. But on Thursday, a business magazine looked closely at Amazon’s claim that that free library included “more than 17,000 movies and TV shows.” Their conclusion?

“Only 1,745 movies are available to stream on the company’s Prime service, and just roughly 150 TV series.”

According to Fast Company magazine, Amazon’s counting each episode of a TV show as a separate show. “For example, Amazon does not count 24 as one TV show; rather, it counts every episode in all eight seasons toward its [free] library of 17,000 movies and television shows. So, according to Amazon’s logic, Kiefer Sutherland stars in 192 TV shows. Amazon counts The X-Files more than 200 times and Grey’s Anatomy 170 times.” And because so many different TV shows were based on the “Power Ranger” characters, “Power Rangers-related episodes are counted as about 715 shows in its streaming library — that is, 4.2% of the 17,000 movies and television shows Amazon says it offers. ”

It’s important to recognize that this is the smaller free library of videos available to Amazon Prime subscribers. There’s seven times as many videos available for Kindle Fire owners in Amazon’s “Instant Video” library – more than 120,000 – and all those videos can also be watched online. (And starting 10 days ago, all those videos are now even available on a PlayStation 3). Of course, you have to wonder if Amazon is also counting individual episodes in those figures as well. Even Netflix, which offers a competing service that “streams” videos for online viewing, has just 9,500 movies available online, and 3,500 different TV series, according to an industry watcher who was interviewed by Fast Company.

But its apparently been very difficult for Amazon to find free content for its Prime video library. As recently as one month ago, that library offered just 5,000 “titles”, according to one press release. Amazon was only able to add 12,000 more titles after a deal with Discovery Communications to add programs from their cable channels — like Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel — and even then, only episodes from past seasons. These non-fiction shows apparently now account for 70% of Amazon’s video library – shows like Say Yes to the Dress and Animal Planet’s Whale Wars.

It feels a little sneaky that Amazon counted individual episodes as “titles” – so I decided to see just what was available, by scanning Amazon’s list of their most popular Prime videos. After Downton Abbey, its most-popular TV shows were SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer, and there were three more children’s shows in the top 12. Four more of the top shows looked like non-fiction shows from Amazon’s “Discovery” deal – Mythbusters Deadliest Catch, Man vs. Wild, and Toddlers and Tiaras. But their “Editor’s Pick” section had some intriguing additional shows, including British classics like Dr. Who and Monty Python’s Flying Circus, plus classic American shows like NYPD Blue, Cheers, Better Off Ted, and the original Hawaii Five-O. But the #2 slot on most-popular free movie list went to Zombie Strippers, a horror comedy starring former porn actress Jenna Jameson and “Nightmare on Elm Street” star Robert Englund.

I guess the lesson here is simple. If you’re signing up for Amazon Prime just to use its video service, do some research first to make sure it’s got the videos you want to see!

Get a Kindle Fire for Only $169!

Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet

It’s true! Amazon’s selling Kindle Fire tablets today in the U.S. for just $169. Just point your browser to tinyurl.com/169KindleFire. (Click on the link in the “Save $30” section…)

They’re refurbished Kindle Fire tablets – meaning they were previously owned, but they’ve all since been tested by Amazon, so they’ll still come with a full one-year warranty, just like a new Kindle Fire tablet! And remember, the Kindle Fire was only released on November 15th, so none of them are more than four and a half months old!

Normally the Kindle Fire tablets cost $199, so it’s a nice way to save some money. And if that’s still too much money, Amazon’s giving away 10 more Kindle Fire tablets in a special contest. I normally don’t enter sweepstakes, but this one was actually a lot of fun. Amazon’s helping to pick the best magazine covers of 2011, so they’re displaying photos of the very best magazine covers, and asking us to vote on which ones we like best. There’s nearly 50 great covers each in 10 different categories, including “Technology & Business” and “Entertainment and Celebrities.” There’s even a “Most Delicious” category!

To check out the covers — and to enter yourself for a chance at a free Kindle Fire tablet — go to tinyurl.com/KindleFireSweepstakes. For every category that you vote in, Amazon will credit you with another entry in their sweepstakes. It’s all courtesy of Amazon’s magazine team, and apparently there’s even more fun ahead. On April 22nd, the best covers in each category will finally be revealed — after which there’s a final round where the very best cover “overall” will be chosen from those 10 finalists! Amazon’s promising that if you also vote in that final round, it will count as another entry in the contest.

It’s all a subtle reminder that you can read magazines on a Kindle Fire tablet — in full color, flicking the pages just like a real magazine by using your finger on their touchscreen. Of course, you can also watch movies and TV shows — or listen to music. Maybe Amazon’s that these magazines will be the last incentive customers need to rush out and buy a Kindle Fire!