Forget about getting a Kindle for Christmas

Forget about it, that is, unless your special gift giver happens to be an early shopper -- a very early shopper.

A colleague was recently raving about her Kindle -- 's much-hyped and Oprah-endorsed e-book reader -- so, out of curiosity, I asked what a Santa's helper might expect to spend on one of those bad boys.

Her e-mail reply: "[US]$359, but I think you've already missed Christmas (the estimated ship date is 11 to 13 weeks)."

Say what? Eleven to 13 weeks? Christmas was precisely a month away the day of that exchange, so the fact that a hot toy would be out of stock shouldn't have been a shocker; but a three-month wait for a gadget that's been on virtual shelves for a year already?

Here's what Amazon says on its main Kindle page: "Usually ships within 11 to 13 weeks. . . . Due to heavy customer demand, Kindle is sold out. Please ORDER KINDLE NOW to reserve your place in line. We prioritize orders on a first come, first served basis. This item will arrive after December 24."

Quite a bit after Dec. 24. And does that "usually" open the door to even longer waits?