Kindle becomes billboard in cut-price offer

When you buy a printed book, you usually don’t expect to see advertisements, aside from those for other books. (Well, except in a famous episode of sitcom Hancock’s Half Hour.) But that’s exactly what you’ll find in the cheapest Kindle to date.

Amazon’s latest twist on the e-Reader is the Kindle with Special Offers. It’s the same hardware as the standard Kindle, but with the addition of screensavers promoting special offers from commercial partners. The screensavers will be specially designed to suit the electronic ink display. The details of all the offers can also be accessed through a link on the homescreen.

In return for choosing a model that allows this advertising, the buyer only pays $114 for the device, a $25 discount on the standard price. Normally I’d say that’s not really enough of an incentive, but things may be different with a device such as the Kindle where there’s no price competition among retailers.

Among the initial details will be a $20 Amazon gift card for $10 or a full-length album from the Amazon MP3 store for a dollar. But there will also be plenty of external advertisers, with Olay and Visa already on board.

In an attempt to make the promotions more tolerable to users and more effective for advertisements, Amazon is launching a Kindle app (mirrored on a website) allowing users to look at a series of pairs of potential advertisers and vote for the one they prefer. Companies will have to “win” a set proportion of such comparisons to be allowed to appear on a screensaver. The system is titled AdMash, which may be a nod to FaceMash, the forerunner to Facebook which ran a similar system comparing female students at Harvard.

Users will also be allowed to set personal preferences for the screensavers that appear on their device. However, they won’t be allowed to pick particular companies, but to rather decide on the themes of the screensavers, for example favoring ads that contain pictures of landscapes over those depicting people.

Even though the advertising concept has potential, I suspect it will be some time before it’s clear if it can work in practice. Firstly, the take-up is inevitably going to start off slowly as potential buyers usually wait until enough people have bought the new model and reported back on how disruptive or inconspicuous the promotional material is.

Secondly, the pricing suggests this may be an initial experiment to see if the concept takes with users. If it does, I would be amazed if Amazon doesn’t follow up by making the ad-supported version drop to the $99 price point.

11 Responses to Kindle becomes billboard in cut-price offer

  1. At that price I would buy one, crack it, and then load my own screensavers. It's just way too easy on a Kindle.

  2. At that price I would buy one, crack it, and then load my own screensavers. It’s just way too easy on a Kindle.

  3. At that price I would buy one, crack it, and then load my own screensavers. It’s just way too easy on a Kindle.

    • Books can be free if you want them to be. All you have to do is visit a library! lol. you can also get books in torrents. audio and e-books. though i'm not sure if they're completely accurate, mostly the text ones since thats not all that hard to alter.

  4. Eh… I don't want a monthly premium either. I'd rather pay for the item up front and not deal with monthly anythings afterward.

    However, I do think they ought to have lowered the price to $99 with this ad-supported model. There IS a eBook competition and a Kindle (which is an excellent eBook) at that price would knock all the others out of the water.

  5. I can understand why – considering you can pick up a kindle and fill it with free mobi or pdf format books Amazon are just looking for ways to milk some extra cash from the platform – after all I can't see many people buying kindle books when the price is only a couple of $ cheaper than the hardback versions.

    Damn that publishers net price agreement – the markup on eBooks must be HUGE compared to the dead -tree version, they SHOULD be a fraction of the price and still have enough room to pay authors the royalties they deserve.

  6. Putting ads n it should bring the price down much more than $25. If I am already paying over $100 for a product then another $25 isn't going to make that much of a difference to me.

    Like others have said here, maybe dropping to $99 would make more sense.

  7. I might've gotten this if I didn't already have a Kindle. As it is, the screensavers are already ugly for the most part. I doubt the ads would be much worse.

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