Home Amazon Introduces an Ad-Supported Kindle (Proving an E-Reader Is Just an Ad for a Bookstore)

Amazon Introduces an Ad-Supported Kindle (Proving an E-Reader Is Just an Ad for a Bookstore)

Amazon has just announced that it’s releasing a new Kindle: “Kindle with Special Offers.” This version is $25 off the regularly priced e-reader (that is, for $114 instead of $139), because those “special offers” include advertising.

The e-books themselves won’t have ads in them, but the home screen and the screensaver will. Sponsors for the first series of screensavers include Buick, Proctor & Gamble, and Visa.

Ads themselves hardly qualify as “special” and neither does the rather paltry discounted price. But to sweeten the deal, Amazon says there will be “special offers” available to these Kindle owners, including half-off Amazon Gift cards, discounted Audible books and Amazon mp3 albums, and a $10 credit when you buy one of 30 Kindle bestsellers with your Visa card.

Amazon is also introducing “AdMash,” a new free Kindle app and website where “customers choose the most attractive and engaging display advertisements that will become Kindle sponsored screensavers,” which the press release notes will be presented on the Kindle’s high-contrast, no-glare electronic-ink display. Special.

The $25 discount doesn’t really feel like a good trade-off for customers who are willing to tolerate advertising on their Kindle. (Are folks willing to tolerate ads in their e-readers? It seems like more publishers are toying with the idea that they are.)

Granted, I frown at this as someone who goes out of her way to block ads on websites and as someone who’s willing to spend the extra money to buy an app rather than use a free, ad-supported version. But those apps typically mean the difference between free and a couple of bucks. I’m not sure the behavior or the price-point is comparable to a piece of hardware.

My initial reaction to the new Kindle might be much ado about nothing. After all, the Kindle isn’t much more than a piece of hardware that advertises the Amazon bookstore itself.

Earlier this year, Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly speculated that the continual decline in Kindle pricing suggested that the device would be offered for free by Amazon this fall. But free isn’t the same as ad-supported. And a $25 discount to have an ad-supported device seems even less special.

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