Amazon has announced it will begin selling an ad-supported version of its Kindle e-reader starting May 3. The "Kindle With Special Offers" will sell for $114, an 18 percent discount from the current $139 sticker price. Big whoop to that I say; a $25 savings to put up with advertisements for the lifetime of the device. But that's just the first of my laundry list of reasons why this is not a good thing.
A $25 discount is hardly enough to make the Kindle more affordable to the masses, contrary to what Amazon claims.
"This is about making sure anyone who wants a Kindle can afford one."
—Jay Marine, Director of Kindle Products, as quoted by BusinessWeek
Make no mistake, this is about creating a new revenue stream for Amazon.
Make no mistake, its just the beginning. Other e-readers will eventually follow suit. It's sort of like the airlines charging for bags. Once one gets away with it, they all jump on board. Literature shouldn't be ad-supported any more than there should be corporate sponsorships branded on the frame of the Mona Lisa.
Amazon says the ads will be unobtrusive, limited to the screen saver and banners at the bottom of the menu pages only.
This is the proverbial camel's nose under the tent. Humps and all will be in our sleeping bags before we know it.
Consider this, as well:
You write an eBook to promote your expertise and your competitor's ad inadvertantly runs along with it since it matches up with the content.
The Kindle With Special Offers will be available at Best Buy and Target and, of course, through Amazon.
Last updated: Apr 12, 2011
RENEE ORICCHIO is a technology writer and former supervising news producer for CNN Financial News. She has been covering the computer industry since 1987. @oricchio