The Amazon Kindle was released today, which much fanfare, including Steven Levy’s Newsweek article on the future of reading (a great example of Jeff’s breathtaking vision and his power to impact the popular wisdom) and his review.
Having held a pre-release Kindle a few months ago and noted its flaws, the Newsweek articles still made me want to rush out and buy one. So let’s use math to justify it.
The current Kindle catalog has 91,000 books, the vast majority of which are $9.99. The Kindle page promises “all NYT Best Sellers and New Releases” and says today that it “offers 100 of 112 books currently found on the New York Times Best Seller list.”
There are at least 2400 books which are more expensive – Amazon’s sort-by-price search stopped working at 2400 – but these seem to be specialty texts. Anecdotal checking showed that Kindle versions were 10%-30% less expensive than hardcover versions.
As of today, the top 24 Hot New Releases in Books (25 was a repeat) and the top 16 NYT Hardcover Fiction average $15.90/book. (This includes three books below $9.99 – Kindle probably will match – and two books I would never buy in electronic form – a PostSecret book and a Star Wars Pop-Up Book.)
Oh, and of course, the Kindle costs $399 ($434.52 if you live in Washington). No startup costs for books just yet.
So that makes the over/under
$399 / ($15.90 – $9.99) = $399 / $5.91 = 67.5 best sellers to pay for the Kindle.
OK, that’s a lot of best sellers, especially when you have two kids and can’t even finish a book a week anymore. One per week, the Kindle pays for itself in 13 months. Let’s keep justifying it.
I don’t get the New York Times daily anymore, but let’s pretend I do, and pretend I don’t read it for free online. Well, then, the daily NYT in print is $25.60 for the first three months, then $51.20. The Kindle version is $13.99/month. So that’s a difference of $11.61 for the first three months and $37.21 after that. (Let’s assume I also don’t serially cancel every three months to restart, because that makes me a bad person.)
Then the first three months, Kindle saves us $11.61 + ($5.91 x 4) = $35.25. (I’m reading a book a week now, good for me.) Future months, $37.21 + ($5.91 x 4) = $60.85. Now the Kindle pays for itself in 8 months.
Add a few magazines and you save $10-15/year here and there (though it’s hard to match up since the prices on the Kindle page don’t match the prices on the per-magazine pages). That’s like free money you can use to get yourself ahead on a few best-sellers, and now all of a sudden you’re at 7 months. Don’t pay for blogs, because c’mon.
So that’s it: with the help of some math, buy a Kindle and pay for it in seven months. Buy me one, you’ll get priceless thank-yous and a photo of me licking the Kindle on this blog page right here. Cuz I want one.