Amazon Drives Kindle Price Down with Special Offers

Amazon is clearly the leader in the e-reader market. Their Kindle was first usable e-book reader with a massive library full of popular titles and wireless delivery. Now, Amazon’s groundbreaking device comes in a couple of sizes, and users can choose wifi-only or 3G data options. Although the device has seen significant improvement in form factor and features since its inception, the Kindle has also come up against some fierce competition from Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Sony’s eReaders, and tablet computers like the iPad and Galaxy Tab. It seems like Amazon is now responding by attempting to drive the price down on their device even lower for the already-affordable $139 wifi-only model.

Amazon is now offering the wifi-only Kindle for $114 “with special offers.” What does this mean for the user? Basically, it means that the screensavers that pop up on the device when not in use will now include advertisements. Ads will also appear on the home screen.

So, the user will save $25, but get advertisements on their brand new reading device? At first blush, this sounds horrible. But when I checked out some of the details, I began to rethink my initial reaction. First of all, ads never interrupt or appear on reading screens. This this good, because if they had, I wouldn’t have given it a second look. Second, some the deals Amazon is promising through these special offers are quite good: $6 for six Audible audio books for example. That’s really nice! Spending $10 for a $20 Amazon gift card doesn’t sound too bad either, or $1 for any Amazon Mp3 album. As someone who both reads a lot and tends to spend a lot of money at Amazon, this arrangement is starting to sound mighty appealing.

Amazon also says they will be working to crowdsource selections for the screensavers; they will build a website and application that will allow users to vote on the ads they would actually like to see. Moreover, there will be an option in the Kindle settings to specify what style of screensaver you’d prefer. Examples Amazon gives are things like Photography, Landscapes, and Architecture. I took the time to check out some of the sample ads, and I have to admit that they really aren’t all that intrusive compared to say, Facebook ads. They are quite tastefully done.

Although Amazon seems to be very focused on creating a win-win situation for both the customer and sponsors, I can’t help but remain a little uneasy about buying a device, just to see advertisements. Yet, I admit that the offers that are being promoted are compelling, and it’s really inspiring to see that magical $100 price point in reach for a mainstream e-book reader.

What do you think? Is the $25 subsidy worth looking at ads on your ebook reader? Do the special offers make it worth the decreased purchase price?