Q: I drew my niece in our family Christmas grab, and I’m looking for a gift for her that’s $50 or less. She’s kind of a bookworm but she also likes gadgets. I would love to get her a Kindle but they’re too expensive. Are there cheaper e-readers or other book-related gifts I should check out? I need to be the cool aunt this year.
A: Ho-ho-hold it right there: Don’t give up on the Kindle! There’s a good chance it’ll dip ever so slightly below $50 between now and Christmas. You’re taking a gamble by waiting, for sure, but Amazon’s standard shipping is generally pretty quick — and if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can get it within two days.
The base-level 6-inch Kindle e-reader is currently priced at $80, but it recently dipped down to $50 on November 22. You can — and should — use the site CamelCamelCamel to track the Kindle’s price and set up a price alert for $50.
You’ll get an email alert if it dips below $50, but be prepared to pull the trigger the same day, as it’ll probably be a one-day deal.
Side note: CamelCamelCamel is a great site for price-checking Amazon items to see if the ones that are currently listed as on sale are truly good deals. It’s also good for checking before you buy something so you can see how often (if ever) it goes on sale. And finally, as mentioned above, it’s great for setting up price alerts for items you know you eventually want to buy.
Keep an eye on refurbished Kindles as well, as they carry the same warranty as new ones and are always priced relatively well.
If you can’t manage to grab a discounted Kindle, consider giving the gift of digital books instead. You can gift a three-month Audible.com audiobook membership for $45, for instance. If you’re okay with breaking your gift grab rules, you can cool-aunt your way to glory by spending $60 on a six-month Kindle e-book subscription, which includes Audible spoken narration for various books at no extra charge.
Another e-book subscription service to check out is Scribd, which offers a six-month gift subscription for $50 on the nose. It sports a mish-mash of more than a million e-books, audiobooks, comics, and even sheet music to choose from.
If your niece is an aspiring writer, take a look at the $50 Logitech K480 keyboard. She can use it for tapping out her tomes on a computer, smartphone, or tablet, with a handy little dial in the upper left corner of the keyboard that lets her quickly switch between devices instead of having to deal with cumbersome Bluetooth un-pairing and re-pairing each time. It’s a great little keyboard that’s comfortable to type on for long periods of time and is small enough to stick in a backpack while she’s out and about, but large enough that her hands won’t feel too cramped while she’s using it.
Doug Aamoth lives in Boston and has spent more than two decades in the technology industry, working for consumer electronics retailers, support centers, startups, cybersecurity providers, and media companies.