As previously reported, here and practically everywhere on the internet, Amazon's Kindle is sold out until February of next year, if you want a new one. When I posted about the refurbished Kindles over the weekend, a number of people were able to get one (several have them already in hand) and the stock on those sold out on Monday morning. But, don't give up. First, go ahead and place and order for a new Kindle - you can always cancel it if you manage to either win a Kindle in a contest or luck into one of the refurbished units. And here is where you must play the game to win: there have been several "new" refurbished units sold at Amazon after they "sold out" on Monday. As new refurbished Kindles are released end for sale (cleaned, tested and repackaged to look identical to new stock, at least as reported by those who have received theirs this week), they are added back to the web site. But they don't stay there for very long.
To "win" one of these refurbished Kindles, you must frequently check the status on the web site. To jump directly to the listing for the refurbished units and skip the long download times for the entire Kindle description page, bookmark this blog and use the [Check Availability of Refurbished Kindles at Amazon] at the top of the page (or use this address: http://www.tinyurl.com/RefurbKindle), then quickly order when one is in stock. The best way to do this is to set up one-click buying, as that way your order goes through immediately upon clicking the button - no need to log in, select a method of shipping, pick a credit card, etc. Of course, that may lead to a few inadvertent orders, so use this setting with care and consider turning it back off once you have secured your Kindle.
When's the best time to play? That remains unclear -- Amazon is on the west coast and those who've lucked into a unit so far have posted during the day or late in the evening, at least as far as east coast time. Checking first thing in the morning on the east coast is a good idea, but new stock may be posted at any time during the day (which at this time of year, is practically until midnight on the west cost). It's unlikely many will pop up on the weekends, but Saturday see have some stock now and then.
What if you don't want to play Kindle Lotto, but still want to surprise someone with a Kindle this year? Consider ordering a new Kindle and then putting a copy of the order and a printout of the Kindle description page inside an envelope for Christmas. Then buy a couple of paper books, to tide the lucky recipient over until it arrives, along with an Amazon gift certificate so that he or she can start shopping for bargains and favorites (this can be done anytime after your account recognizes that you have a Kindle, even if it isn't registered yet). You could do all this and throw in a nice evening out for dinner and still spend less than the used Kindles being sold in the Amazon Marketplace or on eBay (even if never opened, if you don't buy it direct from Amazon, I would not expect to receive the same warranty or return policy). Good luck!