Amazon.com is hoping to announce in the next few weeks that its popular Kindle e-book reader is back in stock, according to a company spokeswoman.
Amazon sold out of the Kindle in five-and-a-half hours on November 19, the day it first went on sale, said Amazon spokeswoman Heather Huntoon. It's been back-ordered since then.
"We've scrambled to increase our manufacturing capacity," she said. "We have been receiving preorders from customers, and we've continued to ship Kindles on a weekly basis. However, demand has outpaced supply at this point so we're hoping in the next few weeks to announce we are back in stock, so customers can order a Kindle and it will ship the same day."
The Kindle allows users to wirelessly download books, newspapers, magazines and blogs. The reader, which costs US$399, is the size of a paperback book and weighs 10.3 ounces. The device uses electronic paper, a high-resolution display technology, that provides a sharp black and white screen that's as easy to read as printed paper, the company said. Kindle uses Sprint's high-speed data network (EV-DO)for its wireless broadband connection.
Huntoon said that although Amazon expected a positive consumer reaction when the device was released, user demand has "absolutely blown us away."
"We looked at our consumer electronics store and projected supply and demand off that," she said. "We had a high expectation for Kindle, and we're very pleased with the high demand for it."
Customers are continuing to preorder the Kindle, and once it's back in stock, Huntoon said the company hopes it will be able to keep up with the demand. She declined to say how many Kindles have been shipped or how many are on back order.
Richard Shim, an analyst at IDC, said he also was surprised by the response to the Kindle.
"E-books were kind of a dormant market, and there wasn't a tremendous amount of demand for this type of product, mainly because previous products had been pretty much duds," he said. "But whenever you can marry a device with a wireless service, particularly with carriers, it's a real coup, and the Kindle made a lot of sense in terms of integrating hardware with wireless service."
Shim said one of the reasons the Kindle took off in the marketplace is because Amazon did a good job of generating buzz around it. Amazon also did a good job with its pricing structure for the books, with book downloads at predominantly US$9.99. However, to continue selling the Kindle in the long term, he said Amazon needs to make the device more affordable for those who would like one but think the US$399 price tag is too expensive.