I’ve long been a champion of traditional paper and ink books.  Among the benefits I always mention is the availability of cheap used book and the low risk of loss.  Ebooks (specifically Kindle) are priced competitively with other new editions of books, but more expensive than a dog-eared copy from a used bookstore (not to mention the feeling of poking around for treasures in a book store).

However, I feel myself tugged a bit in the direction of the Kindle these days.  It all really started when I published my first book of short stories for the Kindle.  Without much work, I could make Mountains, Meadows, and Chasms available to the world – at a price point ($3.49) that made it affordable for nearly anyone, while also netting me a fair commission.  Then there’s the availability of free public domain works.  Getting the classic for free would be a good deal.  Kindle users can also lend books to each other for 14 days – and interesting way to read for free.

I’m not quite convinced yet, but I’m on the fence.  We’ll see what the future holds.  Now, let’s take a look at the various version of the Kindle now available (yes, yes, there will be affiliate links at the end of the article).

Kindle DX – The most expensive Kindle has a 9.7″ screen within WiFi and 3G that works globally.  The downside is the price tag.  $379.  Are you freaking kidding me?  If I’m going to spend that sort of money for an e-reader, I’d pony up a few extra dollars for a 1st generation iPad.  Even the lowest end iPad would give you 16 GB of memory compared to the Kindle’s 4 GB, and the screen is also 9.7″.  Install the free Kindle reader application, and you can use it as a Kindle – but also have the added functionality of a full-function tablet (although you do take a hit in battery life).  So I’ll cross the DX off my list … and also ignore the possibility of an iPad.

Kindle 3G + Wi-Fi – The price tag drops to $189 and the screen size is cut down to 6″ (we’re talking diagonal, so this is half the size of the 9.7″).  Here we come across a $50 question – do I NEED 3G?  Probably not.  It’s extremely rare that I’m outside the range of a WiFi network for an extended period of time – and I could plan in advanced to have a few spare books on the kindle.  Cross this one off the list.

Kindle Wi-Fi –  At $139, this is the first model that’s within the realm of possibility.  Pricey, but worth it?  I’m going to say “no” for now, but revisit the situation if The Soap Boxers starts generating decent revenue.  I’d also like to see the price drop below $100 – which might happen at some point in the year.  I’ll keep my eye on this one.

Kindle Wi-Fi with Special Offers –  This is the newest Kindle offering.  It’s basically identical to the $139 Kindle Wi-Fi, but is priced at $114.  The catch?  It will feature advertising and special offers on the bottom of the main screen on on the screen saver (but NOT embedded within the text of a book).  I see this as an interesting option.  For customers who don’t want the ads, they can pay $139 for the standard Kindle Wi-Fi.  For those who don’t mind the ads – or even those who WANT to get the special offers Amazon will send them, it’s a good deal.  Personally, I probably wouldn’t go for this model.  You save $25, but over life of the product, this breaks down to a few pennies per day.  That’s a slam dunk deal for Amazon – an amazingly cheap captive audience.

Make the ad-supported Kindle FREE, and you might get my attention.  This might sound like a ridiculous idea, but Amazon would greatly expand the customer base for the ads – and also the customer base for the bread-and-butter product, the eBooks.  Free Kindles in 2012?  Don’t be surprised.

Kindle owners – any thoughts to share with us?


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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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