Forget about getting a Kindle for Christmas

Forget about getting a Kindle for Christmas, unless your special gift giver happens to be an early shopper -- a very early shopper.

Forget about it, that is, unless your special gift giver happens to be an early shopper -- a very early shopper.

A colleague was recently raving about her Kindle -- Amazon's much-hyped and Oprah-endorsed e-book reader -- so, out of curiosity, I asked what a Santa's helper might expect to spend on one of those bad boys.

Her e-mail reply: "$359, but I think you've already missed Christmas (the estimated ship date is 11 to13 weeks)."

Say what? Eleven to 13 weeks? Christmas was precisely a month away the day of that exchange, so the fact that a hot toy would be out of stock shouldn't have been a shocker; but a three-month wait for a gadget that's been on virtual shelves for a year already?

Here's what Amazon says on its main Kindle page: "Usually ships within 11 to 13 weeks. . . . Due to heavy customer demand, Kindle is sold out. Please ORDER KINDLE NOW to reserve your place in line. We prioritize orders on a first come, first served basis. This item will arrive after December 24."

Quite a bit after Dec. 24. And does that "usually" open the door to even longer waits?

As might be expected, would-be buyers were not happy. Here's one reaction culled from Amazon's legendary "customer reviews" section: "You have to be kidding me: an 11- to 13-week back order just before Xmas. Amazon sure screwed up here. I wanted a Kindle for Xmas but I will instruct my wife not to purchase one. Why should she pay a premium for a product that has been out for so long? Amazon has had plenty of time to build up inventory and now the week of Thanksgiving the Kindle is on back order. Very disappointing. . . . I am so angry!"

That seemed an unassailable point of view, yet the reviewer was assailed by several of those who already have (and clearly cherish) their Kindles. It was off-topic and unfair of Mr. Angry to spout off, alleged The Lucky Ones, given that he had not actually caressed a Kindle in his own hands. Off topic? I don't know. It seems to me that a three-month wait is pretty darn on topic for Amazon visitors doing their Christmas shopping.I suppose it's worth noting that there was a "used -- like new" Kindle for sale at Amazon … one … for $800. And you can have your pick of them if you're willing to compete and pay a hefty premium at eBay.

The easy explanation for Kindle demand outstripping Kindle supply is the vaunted Oprah Effect -- she did make a fuss about it on her television program and even had Jeff Bezos on the show. That still doesn't cut it as an excuse in my book. Given that Amazon was pulling out all the marketing stops to create exactly the kind of buzz Kindle created, having enough inventory on hand for the holidays seems elementary.

I have a request in with Amazon public relations for comment about all of this. Hope they get back to me in less than 11 to 13 weeks.

I'm twittering . . . finally

Yes, I've been a skeptic. Yes, I am generally averse to just about anything that adds additional disruption to my day. No, I cannot say yet whether this move will be a good thing, a bad thing, or just a thing.

But I am now on Twitter.

You can start following my tweets with a click of your mouse -- although be advised that I am on vacation until Dec. 15.

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