oasisIt seems that the embargo on official news of the Kindle Oasis was 9 a.m this morning. The Verge has a detailed story, which beat the official Amazon press release by several minutes.

The biggest surprise is the hefty $290 price tag on the basic WiFi/special offers version of the e-reader. (3G costs $70 more, and disabling the special offers costs $20 more.) Apart from that, it amply confirms what we already knew: the Oasis is a wedge-shaped, reversible, non-waterproof device with physical page-turn buttons and the same 6” 300 DPI screen as the Paperwhite. The device is sold with the leather external battery cover included. It’s available for pre-order today, and will be available April 27.

The Verge makes a big deal of how strange and new the shape is, seemingly unaware that it’s strongly reminiscent of the old Rocket and eBookwise readers. The point of the new design seems to be to move beyond the utilitarian plastic slabs that have characterized all models of the Kindle thus far, and make something sleeker and more desirable to own in and of itself.

But the question is, is it $170 more desirable than the $120 Paperwhite? Is it $90 more desirable than the $200 Voyage? I’m not so sure. Aside from the “wow” factor, what’s the appeal? It has the physical page-turn buttons a lot of people have been asking for, and a lot longer battery life. But it’s not waterproof, there’s no Bluetooth, and apparently Amazon has given up on text-to-speech reading books aloud (in anything that isn’t an LCD tablet or stand-alone speaker, at least) for good and all. Effectively, it’s just another Kindle Voyage—only almost 50% more expensive. (GeekWire has a piece comparing it to the Voyage side-by-side.)

Maybe this is the future of e-ink readers—while the plain utilitarian versions get ever-cheaper, the fancy ones evolve into fancy boutique editions that people buy as luxury goods. I’m sure that this device would feel great in my hands and be frontlit to a fare-thee-well—but I don’t ever see being willing to pay almost $300 for it.


  1. I with you, Chris. I have a several years old Paperwhite, and I have been using it a lot lately. It’s still in perfect condition. It is a fantastic little device. I don’t see anything about this new one which screams ‘must update’ to me, and certainly not at that price!

  2. Yesterday, I suggest that Amazon aims their ebook readers at the market whose ebook purchases they find most desirable—affluent women from 30 and up who have ample time to read. For them, this $290 price is of no importance. As that Amazon ad from a few years ago noted, they pay more than that for sunglasses.

    Having seen what the Oasis looks like, I’d add to those remarks and suggest that Amazon is doing its best to make this pricey Kindle a fashion statement. You see that in the unique shape and the required leather cover. For a parallel, think of the Italian design firm Gucci.


    That’s where you will find sunglasses priced at hundreds of dollars. And needless to say these are not people who think about technology or worry about their Kindle falling into the pool. After all, it only costs $290, a mere pittance. They pay more than twice that to have their hair cut.


    Adapting an old saying, if you have to ask how much this high-end Kindle costs, you can’t afford it. It’s not for you.


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