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Will Kindles Be Free By Next Christmas?

If you've been debating whether to buy a Kindle for yourself or for a loved one, you may just want to hold off until November.

That's because by then, just in time for the holiday sales push, the price of a Kindle, according to a number of technology experts, will be...zero.

That's right. Though it now goes for $139, it appears that Amazon's industry-leading book-reading device may soon be free.

First, to the evidence. We all know that you can make a lot of projections based on data trends, and that a good proportion of them come true. For example, think of Moore's Law, which holds that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.

This projection has held true for the past 40 years or so.

Recently, local author and former Wired magazine's executive editor, Kevin Kelly, published on his blog a graph showing that the rate at which Kindle's price was falling has been consistent for several years now, a trend first noticed by technology consultant John Walkenbach in 2009.

The graph bottoms out at zero on the auspicious date of 11/11/11. Or about eight months from now.

Kelly says that in August, 2010 he had an opportunity to ask Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, about this possibility.  "He merely smiled and said, 'Oh, you noticed that!'"  Kelley notes. "And then smiled again."

Meanwhile, TechCrunch has reported that Amazon has developed a plan to give away a free Kindle to its "Amazon Prime" customers, who makes lots of purchases and receive free two-day shipping on everything they buy for a fee of $79 a year.

If true (the company has not confirmed this report), although these Kindles would technically be free, but you'd have to plunk down $79 (unless you are already a member in order to get one.

Still, falling prices for every better and more powerful technologies is something we've come to expect, and there's no reason to think that eReader devices will be any different.

Studies indicate that some 40% of the people who acquire the most popular eReaders -- Kindles, Sony Readers, or iPads -- report that they now read more books than they did in the past with print books. Only 2% of these owners say they read fewer books.

With the prices of all eReader devices destined to fall, this too is a trend that should become only more pronounced in the future.