Four Reasons Books Beat Kindles

Kindle 2We’re now two posts into an epic email Victoria wrote me about the Kindle and to the point where she shares some thoughts only a Kindle enthusiast, someone who has used on extensively, can share… the reasons why she sometimes still longs for a bound book. The first part of this series was fourteen reasons I should buy a Kindle and seven ideas she had to improve the Kindle.

Things they will never be able to recreate in a Kindle:

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Seven Ideas to Improve the Kindle

Kindle 2This morning I posted part of an email by Victoria, one of the winners of the Quicken/Turbo Tax Giveaway, and a big-time Kindle enthusiast. It was her list of fourteen reasons why I should get a Kindle. This is the second part of her email trying to convince me that I should buy my wife a Kindle and these are seven things they’d have to change about the Kindle to get her to buy another one.

Top seven things I wish they would change so that I would be enticed to buy a new one:

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14 Reasons Why I Should Buy A Kindle

Kindle 2One of the Quicken/Turbo Tax Giveaway winners, Victoria, and I have been emailing back and forth on a variety of topics the last week or so and she put together a very comprehensive case as to why I should buy (my wife) a Kindle. She spent so much time on the email that I thought it was worth sharing in case you were considering a Kindle for yourself or a loved one. (and this is just the first part of the email!)

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Amazon No Longer Offers Price Drop Guarantee!

That’s right, according to The Consumerist, who received an email from a reader, the Amazon Price Drop guarantee is gone for items purchased after September 1st, 2008. Booo!

Here’s the email:
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$10 Amazon Prime Promotion

Amazon is running an Amazon Prime promotion where they will give you a one month free trial of Amazon Prime and a $10 credit towards products sold by This offer is for new Amazon Prime members only and expires July 28th.

Amazon Prime is their fast shipping program that offers free two-day shipping on any order and $3.99 expedited next-day shipping. The program normally costs $79 a year.

It’s likely that signing up will have you automatically renewing. To change that setting, read these instructions from the last Amazon Prime promotion.

Continue to Free Trial Signup

 Personal Finance 

Best Site To Sell Your Stuff

Recently I’ve been doing some cleaning around the house and thinking about how to unload some of the stuff we’ve acquired over the years. I have a ton of junk that’s just taking up space in closets, on bookshelves, in basement rooms, etc. Fortunately, with the power of the Internets, it’s actually quite easy to sell the stuff you don’t need. Here are my favorites:


Everyone knows the school store is the worst place to sell a textbook but there are easier and better alternatives. First, I’d check the bulletin boards of your school, both online and offline. By selling it through the bulletin boards you save on shipping and selling fees. My online favorites are and because you can list in minutes once you setup a Marketplace account. Then, you can enter the ISBN number (the numbers underneath the bar code), product quality, sale price and Amazon will set up the rest for you. For the convenience you do pay a price, takes a 15% commission on the sale price, so try offline first.

“Commodity” Goods

I’ve always said that eBay is the prime place for anything that can be considered a commodity. A commodity is a DVD, watches, a car part, or any number of items in which one of them is is essentially interchangeable with another. What you get with one particular I Am Legend DVD is going to essentially be the same as any other, minus different scratches and the like. For items like that, eBay is king. eBay is king because they have useful tools to help in the listing process of commodity goods and because you get access to a huge buying community. Commodity goods also ship well, which means that geography isn’t a liability as it is with furniture.


Used clothes are always difficult to sell but if it’s a particularly unique piece then you can always try local consignment shops. If it’s a suit, consider snapping a few photos, getting the dimensions, and listing it on eBay. In college my friend used to buy suits from Goodwills in affluent neighborhoods and sell them on eBay for a tidy profit, so it’s certainly possible. In general though you’ll probably get a better return donating them and taking the tax deduction.

Furniture & Other Large Items

Craigslist baby. Furniture (and other large items) is often big, difficult to ship and transport, so you’ll want to keep the buyer in the same geographic area. eBay isn’t a good option since shipping will make something too expensive. You can often find a major city Craigslist site near you but expect a lot of false positives. I recently gave away a dishwasher and had many false positives (and it was for free!). If you do have a weaker piece of furniture or a larger item that you don’t think you can sell and you don’t think Goodwill/Salvation Army will accept as a donation, giving it away on Craigslist is a good alternative to the dump or recycling facility. (large items can include basically anything heavy like tools, appliances, etc.)

There you go, four major clutter categories and the places you can unload the loot you’ve acquired all those years.


My Microsoft Points Buying Strategy

I’ve owned an XBox 360 for nearly a year and I’ve never once purchased anything in the XBox Live Marketplace because there was never anything I really wanted – until I bought Rock Band. With the music games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, the producers are releasing new songs via the XBox Live Marketplace and, if my memory serves me right, Rock Band songs cost 160 Microsoft Points a piece (they also bundle them in packs of 3 for 440 MS Points).

The math on how much a Microsoft Point is worth in the retail market works out to be 1.25 cents per point in the US, with prices slightly higher abroad (not on purpose there, it’s just exchange rates). You can get them slightly cheaper elsewhere and so you never want to pay retail price for points. There is always a cheaper alternative, unless you absolutely have to have points right now.

My goal is to pay, at most, a penny per point, and often times you can get them for even less if you’re willing to look.

Amazon sells two point valued cards, a 1600 and a 4000 point card. The 1600 Microsoft Points Card is currently going for $18.99, making it 1.1869 cents/point, and the 4000 Microsoft Points Card is going for $47.99, making it 1.1998 cents/point. Yes, right now the 1600 point card is better than the 4000 point card (go figure). However, with a penny per point being our benchmark, doesn’t cut it in this case. Also, has to mail you the card so there’s a shipping delay between when you buy and when you can use the points. The card itself is meaningless, all you need is the code on the back… therein lies options #2.


I love eBay for these types of commodity goods and eBay has a ton of listings of Microsoft Points. You have your typical 1600 pointers for $17.99, 1.124 cents/point, and the 4000 price varies in the high $40 range, which puts it in line with prices. However, if you’re willing to do a little extra work, look for the 200 point cards that come bundled with some random game. Specifically, look the for the 200 pointer bundled with Robotron 2084 and you’ll see a whole bunch of them for 99 cents – that’s a whopping half cent per point (plus Robotron 2084). The downside is that you have to enter all those codes, not a big deal if you have a keyboard but infuriating if you’re typing them in by hand (plus the downside of buying from a stranger on eBay, so do your due diligence). The upside is that the seller will often email you the code and you can get it immediately.

Stores (with Coupons)

Lastly, your final option is to go to a store like Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. armed with a coupon that lets you take dollars off your purchase. If you happen to be buying something else, throwing on some Microsoft Points at retail value so you are eligible to use a coupon might be a good idea. Short of that, going to a retail store without a coupon is the absolute worst thing you can do because you pay for gas, pay for tax, and you pay full price. Yuck.

There you have it, my brief guide on where to get the best prices on points. I’m not a seasoned point buyer so if anyone else has some good tips, please let me know so I can feed my Rock Band addiction on the cheap! Thanks!


Coinstar Promo: $10 Amazon GC with $30 Count

Coinstar is a coin counting vending machine that usually takes a nice fat cut of the count but from 01 October until 04 November, when you count over $30 in coins and convert it into an Amazon gift certificate they will send you an additional $10 Amazon gift certificate via email.

You will need to keep the receipt of the count and mail it by 08 November to:

Coinstar GC Offer
PO Box 91258
Bellevue, WA 98009

If you don’t provide an email, the certificate will be sent via postal mail but I recommend providing an email because electronic is better (less opportunity for it to be lost). Also, if you aren’t sure if you have $30 in coins, head over to a bank and ask for thirty bucks in quarters or something.

I’ll probably be doing this sometime later tonight or tomorrow as I’ve been itching to trade in some coins so I can report back on what the form asks for. Incidentally, if you want to avoid the Coinstar fee you can always take it to a Chevy Chase bank to convert them for free (other banks offer this as well).

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