Thanks to increased competition from other eReader companies like Barnes & Noble and Kobo, the cost of purchasing an Amazon Kindle has decreased over the past few years. From the Kindle 1’s highball debut at a whopping $399 to today’s $69 basic Kindle, this device has gradually become more accessible to the average consumer. Even Amazon’s new flagship eReader, the Kindle Paperwhite, has a very modest price tag of $119.
While the cost of owning a Kindle has dramatically decreased since the fall of 2008, one accessory produced for it has actually increased: the Amazon Kindle case.
The prices of the first three Kindle cases varied a bit, but they could always be purchased from Amazon.com for around $30. The Kindle 2 case cost $34.99 at release and eventually dropped to $29.99. The Amazon listing for their Kindle 3 case shows an original list price of $34.99, but I always remember it being discounted to $29.99 (that’s what I bought it for). It was more expensive than most third-party options but the Amazon case was always the best one for your money.
Suddenly, with the release of the Kindle Touch, things changed.
Amazon’s Kindle Touch case was easily the worst one ever created for the Kindle. On its release, the price jumped $10 higher than the previous $30 price point, and build quality took a steep plunge. The product listing said it was leather, but you could have fooled me. It looked and felt like they took a thin piece of cardboard, covered it in pleather, and called it the front cover. This was attached by a floppy pleather hinge to a rubbery-plastic back. I would estimate the genuine leather content of the materials to be around 20% (it would be interesting to see the results if someone actually tested this).
The old metal hook-in method was replaced by a snap-in design that fit the KT perfectly, but the classic folio look was gone. There was also no way to keep the front of the case from falling open in your bag, so the whole point of securing your Kindle in a cover was cancelled out.
Amazon was charging $39.99 for a case that probably cost them all of $5 to make. The Kindle Touch cost $99, but its case cost $40? That number never squared with me. It seemed like price gouging to make up for losses in other areas.
The new Kindle Paperwhite case is also being sold for $39.99, so it seems that they are sticking with this higher price point. It does look like they learned a few lessons from the Kinde Touch days, (the design has been changed and they added a clasp so you can keep the front lid closed) but I am still hesitant to shell out that kind of money for a case. When a profit margin seems insulting, I will always take a pass.
The downside is: I don’t have a case for the Paperwhite.
Traveling with my gadgets always makes me nervous. I want to keep them in the best condition possible as I often sell them on eBay when I upgrade. Since I didn’t want to buy my beloved Paperwhite a $40 case, and all of the third-party options look like a waste of money, I decided to improvise for my recent holiday travels. It worked out great, and, best of all, I didn’t have to spend a thing.
It turns out that the box that Kindle Paperwhites are shipped in makes for an excellent traveling case. It isn’t a leather folio and you can’t really read with it on, but it is otherwise quite effective. The lid securely holds the Paperwhite in place with the help of a large rubber band; I could throw it in my backpack and shove it under my airplane seat without fear of scratches or scuffs. It was easy to open and close. I didn’t have to worry about the outside of it getting beat up. It worked out so well, that I have continued to use it. The box is remarkably sturdy. So, if you want to save some money on a case, don’t throw out your old KPW shipping box. 🙂