Looking over the product page for the Kindle Paperwhite, it’s surprising how many different choices a person is required to make in order to make a simple purchase.
That’s not even taking into account having to decide which Kindle model to chose in the first place. It would be one thing if they were all different sizes and easily distinguishable from one another, but when they have a basic Kindle that offers all the same reading features and is roughly the same size as the more expensive Paperwhite, it can be hard to determine which one to get. And then there’s the Kid’s Kindle, which is exactly the same as the entry-level Kindle, so that doesn’t help any either.
After a person decides which Kindle model to choose, there’s another whole series of additional decisions to make.
First, you have to decide how much storage space you want, 8GB or 32GB. People are conditioned to think more is better, but unless you’re going to load your Kindle with audiobooks or a massive library of 10,000 ebooks, then 8GB is going to be just fine.
Then after that you have to decide if you want to save $20 by getting a Kindle with ads on the sleepscreen and homescreen. This is the one thing that can be changed after you purchase a Kindle so it’s not a big concern, but new buyers don’t know that.
The third choice a person is presented with is a choice of color. The Paperwhite comes in 4 different colors and the entry-level Kindle and Kindle Oasis come in two different colors, but the Oasis with 8GB only comes in one color, and oddly the Kids Kindle only comes in one color as well, but with it there are several cover choices.
After that there’s the option to choose if you want your new Kindle to come with a free 3-month trial for Kindle Unlimited or not. A lot of people don’t realize Amazon will automatically start charging $9.99 per month after 3 months if you don’t cancel so make sure to choose wisely or remember to cancel.
You would think the choices would end there, but if you scroll down the page a little further, you have additional options to chose various Kindle bundles that come with a cover and USB wall charger.
The choices don’t end there. With the Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Oasis you also have the option to buy them with free cellular connectivity. They are the most expensive Kindles that Amazon sells, $250 for the Paperwhite and $350 for the Oasis. The ironic thing about these two models is there are no color choices, no storage capacity choices, no additional configuration options whatsoever.
That seems like a lot of steps to take just to buy a Kindle, especially for someone new to Kindles. Trying to figure out exactly what to choose is like trying to pick the right paint color.
Why offer so many configuration choices for what amounts to the exact same reading experience in the end?
Here’s an idea: Just offer a decent amount of storage space to begin with instead of nickel-and-diming for every GB, and leave the lower capacity for the entry-level model; get rid of the stupid ads altogether and let people set their own screensavers; and make the Kindle Unlimited trial an option during initial setup.
Just offer a few color options and let people choose to bundle a cover if they want to. What’s the advantage of requiring people to make 10 different choices just to buy a simple device for reading ebooks?
I have a feeling it has developed/languished this way because the e-ink Kindles occupy an odd marketspace for Amazon. It’s a signature product, it’s the first big product line they produced themselves, it’s got a connection to their beginnings as a bookseller, and they probably make decent money from it. On the other hand, it’s a niche market. They seem to give it enough resources to be good but not enough to really shine or grow.
I’m not sure if Amazon considers Kindles a signature product anymore. They’ve been ignoring the Kindle line for years. Kindles aren’t even mentioned at their hardware events anymore. They make a big deal about a new $29 Fire TV stick, but Kindles don’t even get a cursory mention.
That is sad, considering the Fire Sticks are in a market that is both crowded and, you’d think, dying off. TVs have been coming with the functionality in Fire sticks for years now, but bedside tables do not come with e-ink ereaders.
lol what? Amazon has 40% marketshare with their fire sticks/fire tvs/tvs running fire. And those sticks are cheap, still faster than smart tvs, and you can disable data collection (i.e. spying on you) on it (which you can’t on most smart tvs).
On the other hand, most people read ebooks on their phones or they went back to paper books.
Fire sticks are not niche, Kindles are.
I said the Kindle was in a niche, but sticks specifically are both big business (especially considered next to something that reads books) but there was a lot of hubbub earlier this year about the slowing of their growth, largely chalked up to smart TVs becoming more ubiquitous. I apologize for bringing it up, you’ll certainly still be able to find customers for them.
That’s a good question, I don’t know. Their process is as complicated and congested as their website is. Their website is absolutely terrible. It’s clutter galore! Compare Amazons website to a beautiful one like Sweetwater.
Sweetwater does have a nice website, and what I really like is how they send a pack of candy with orders. Funny how that’s a deciding factor for me sometimes.
Csaba Kelemen says
It loós like an overcompensation.
I was thinking that too. Like they’re trying to compensate for a lack of choices with actual Kindle models. Offering there 6-inch models, with 2 of them being the exact same, is pretty lame. The Oasis is the only interesting idea they’ve had in the past 5 years.
Any chances of the release of a new model soon?
Probably not. But there’s a slim chance a new Paperwhite could come along before the end of the year. The entry-level model and Oasis were both released last year so there’s virtually no chance of those getting replaced this soon.
Thank you. But if we are waiting for USB-C or warm light for the Paperwhite, should we wait for Black Friday, next year or never?
I don’t have a kindle and I was thinking to get the paperwhite on prime day or Black Friday to save with the bundle. But since I’ve been waiting 2 years for the USB-C and nothing and I’m still spending a lot on books, Idk if to wait “a bit more” or just get what they sell now.
Thank you in advance.
You might be waiting for a long time. I don’t see Amazon adding USB-C to the Paperwhite before the higher-end Oasis. If so you could just return the old one. Their extended return period is now active for the holiday shopping season. From their returns page: “For the 2020 holiday season, most of the items shipped between October 1 and December 31 can be returned until January 31, 2021.”
FWIW, you can buy small usb-c to micro-usb adaptors, about the size of a pinkie joint, pack of 4 from Amazon for small change.
If you’re a techie like me who typically creates little spreadsheets of stuff like this (kindles, phones, cpus) before buying anything then it seems like a crazy mess – trying to keep your classic kindle separate from the new 3rd edition classic kindle 2 or whatever. But I don’t think most consumers look at it that way. They’ve heard about kindles from a friend, seen an ad, maybe they used to have one and want an update. They’re probably just going to spend a short while looking at the range with a rough price point in mind then get one. Whether it’s got 8gigs or 32gigs etc is of little importance. They’re probably more interested in the colour.
BTW: i’ve never heard of a single person getting any agro from contacting amazon support and asking nicely for them to disable ads for free.
Tina Hamaker says
I’ve rarely had any issues with Amazon support ever, but I hardly notice the ads. I guess they might bug some folks, but I see no need to spend time on a Chat or phone call for it. Good to know, though.
In the case of the cellular version – do you know who the carrier is and is it 4g or 3g and what happens to your device when 3g coverage is dropped? I am probably just missing it but I couldn’t find out the information on Amazon.
The current devices use 4G. I have no idea what’s going to happen to their 3G models when service gets shut down—Amazon has been mum on the subject.
Manu CL says
Should we wait for a newer version?
Not if you want a good deal. The Paperwhite is going to be marked down to $79 for Prime Day.
I don’t think we’ll have a new Paperwhite this year. Could be wrong, but doubtful. They release new fires and regular kindles (cheapest option) more frequently.
History (Just re-checked, its’ interesting and can help with trends)
Paperwhite 1 – October 2012
Paperwhite 2 – September 2013
Voyage – 2014
Paperwhite 3 – June 2015
Oasis 1 – April 2016
Oasis 2 – October 2017 (Waterproof 1st time)
Paperwhite 4 – November 2018
Oasis – July 2019
Based on the timeline above, it’s possible, but I think they may slow down the releases for the Paperwhite, the last two had three years in between. The Oasis quicker, same for the generic Kindles and Fires. But you never know. Almost everything is released between Oct-November so if you don’t see news by December, it’s doubtful
I understand why wanting a USB-C port would save time in charging and having different cables to keep around but for me it’s not a game changer or feature I need. I have plenty of micro USB cables and charge my kindle overnight so a faster charge speed isn’t necessary.
I’m very tempted into getting a PW4 on Prime day but my trusty PW3 that I got on Prime day July 2018 still works like a champ is Bluetooth and water resistance enough to justify $80? I’m not sure.
Tina Hamaker says
If it’s working like a champ, I wouldn’t. I don’t think I’ve ever used the Bluetooth, and as far as being waterproof… I’m spending much less time poolside at the FL condo due to Covid. I’ve had it since July 2019. Iopted for new then, because my PW2 stopped holding a charge.
Phillip Cohenour says
It is not that hard to choose as this article makes it seem. The real issue is which reading platform you want to get your books from i.e. Amazon, Kobo, or Barnes and Nobles.
I don’t see that as a difficult decision at all for most people. Nobody trusts B&N anymore when it comes to ebooks and Nooks, and at least 90% of people in the US have no idea Kobo exists. Meanwhile most people already shop at Amazon and they have over 100 million Prime subscribers.
Kobo all the way for me! They are the first one to come out with the over six inch reader and they have my exclusive business. I buy a few Amazon books that my sister and aunt read but basically Kobo has me hooked. The only way Amazon will get me back 100% in ebooks is if they bring out a 7.8 or larger straight format with page turn buttons on both sides (like Nook) but more streamlined. I like the Kobo Libra but just cannot get into the Kindle Oasis. The Paperwhite does not offer the color adjustment so that is out. I had ordered the Onyx Boox Nova 2 but returned it when I received the Poke 2. It was easier to return to Amazon than to Onyx. I like the Poke but really wish Amazon would come out with the Nova 2 or larger device. I like Amazon’s unlimited program and just wish Kobo would bring theirs to the US.
You have no idea how often I hear people like you wishing for a larger Kindle, and every year Amazon continues to disappoint. It really makes no sense at this point.
It is strange. I know that they see so many have wanted another Voyage since 2014 as well but they continue to ignore that. It tooks years to respond to warm light when it was available for years with other companies. They are sure not fast to respond to e-reader spec wishlists.
Chad-Michael SImon says
It’s crazy. I searched for Kindle — on Amazon — and it treats it like it’s a third-tier product from some other vendor. I put a new Paperwhite in my cart, confident with my choice, but the delivery window is December 13-January 3rd. Estimated Delivery? December 24-Jan 3. Amazon can get a Zimbabwean pocket dongle to my house by tomorrow noon, but they can’t deliver better on their own product?