Ad-supported Kindle to ship May 3rd: saves $25, includes lot of enticement

Here's a scenario: what if we told you that your next Kindle could be had for $25 less than retail? What if we told you it came from the rear of a nondescript white van? Or what if we told you that you'd first need to sign up for 842 email marketing scams? Thankfully, none of those scenarios are ones we're looking to tell you about. Instead, we're here to introduce you to the world's first ad-supported Kindle, going on sale within Target and Best Buy locations for $114. That represents a gentle $25 savings compared to the price of today's cheapest Kindle, but those 2500 pennies don't come free -- you'll be asked to endure "advertisements on the bottom of the device's home page and on its screen savers." Furthermore, it sets a new precedent in the gadget arena that could very well carry over to ad-discounted tablets, netbooks, PMPs, and who knows what else. At this point, Buick, Olay and Visa will be advertising, and we get the impression that said list will bloom in due time. It's hard to say just how intrusive they'll be, but Kindle director Jay Marine seems to think that "customers are going to love it."

We aren't so sure. While it's crystal clear that the general populace adores coupon cutting, it seems problematic to us to ship a pair of identical products that cost within $25 of one another and expect Joe Sixpack to grok the difference. In fact, we're guessing that this will inevitably lead to consumer complaints from those who can't figure out why their "on sale Kindle" isn't nearly as enjoyable to read as "Bob's Kindle... that he found during a sale." At any rate, a demo of the new device displayed a screen saver deal "where customers would pay $10 for a $20 gift card to Amazon," and while no ads will appear in e-books, there's still "a clear advertisement" along the bottom of the home screen. All that said, here's the key feature that Amazon's seemingly overlooking: an option in the software to pay back the $25 a customer skimped on to do away with the ads on their ad-supported e-reader. Solves the buyer's remorse problem, at least.

Update: And it's official -- PR's after the break!

Show full PR text


$25 less for the same #1 bestselling latest-generation Kindle plus special offers and sponsored screensavers

Special offers in the initial weeks include $10 for $20 Gift Card, $1 for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store, and a $100 Gift Card with a new Amazon Rewards Visa Card

Amazon also introduces "AdMash" – the new free Kindle app and website where customers vote for the most attractive sponsored screensavers

SEATTLE-April 11, 2011-(NASDAQ: AMZN)-Millions of people are reading on Kindle, Kindle has more 5-star reviews than any other product on Amazon, and in just five months the latest-generation Kindle became the bestselling product in the 16-year history of Today, Amazon introduced a new member of the Kindle family – Kindle with Special Offers for only $114. Kindle with Special Offers is the same #1 bestselling Kindle, plus special offers and sponsored screensavers. Kindle special offers and sponsored screensavers display on the Kindle screensaver and on the bottom of the home screen. Learn more about all three latest-generation Kindle family members-$114 Kindle with Special Offers, $139 Kindle, and $189 Kindle 3G-at Kindle with Special Offers is now available for pre-order to customers in the U.S. and will ship on May 3.

"We're working hard to make sure that anyone who wants a Kindle can afford one," said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO. "Kindle with Special Offers is the same #1 bestselling Kindle – and it's only $114. Kindle is the best deal in consumer electronics anywhere in the world."

Buick, Olay (Procter & Gamble), Visa, and Reward Visa Card (Chase) are sponsoring the first series of screensavers specially-designed for Kindle's high-contrast, no glare electronic ink display (for screensaver examples, visit Examples of deals that will be delivered directly to Kindle with Special Offers devices in the initial weeks include:

* $10 for $20 Gift Card
* $6 for 6 Audible Books (normally $68)
* $1 for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store (choose from over 1 million albums)
* $10 for $30 of products in the Amazon Denim Shop or Amazon Swim Shop
* Free $100 Gift Card when you get an Amazon Rewards Visa Card (normally $30)
* Buy one of 30 Kindle bestsellers with your Visa card and get $10 credit
* 50% off Roku Streaming Player (normally $99)

To make sure customers don't miss any of the offers, a full list of active offers will be available from the menu of Kindle with Special Offers at any time.

Amazon is also introducing "AdMash" – the free Kindle app and website where customers choose the most attractive and engaging display advertisements that will become Kindle sponsored screensavers. Kindle's sponsored screensavers are specially-designed display advertisements that take advantage of Kindle's high-contrast, no-glare electronic-ink display. Before these advertisements can be presented to Kindle customers, they are first previewed by customers using AdMash. Users are presented with pairs of sponsored screensaver candidates and asked to select which one they prefer. Screensavers with the most preferred votes qualify to become sponsored screensavers. The AdMash Kindle app will launch in the coming weeks – for a preview, visit

In addition, Kindle with Special Offers customers can give Amazon hints on the style and types of sponsored screensavers they would like to see. From the Manage Your Kindle page on, customers can use Kindle Screensaver Preferences to indicate whether they like to see more or less screensavers that include elements such as landscapes and scenery, architecture, travel images, photography, and illustrations. Together, AdMash voting and Kindle Screensaver Preferences help Amazon present sponsored screensavers that customers find attractive and engaging. For screenshots of Kindle screensavers, AdMash and Kindle Screensaver Preferences, visit

"The opportunity to offer custom-designed Kindle screensavers was a natural fit for Buick because Kindle is such a unique device surrounded by a community of intelligent, passionate people," said Craig Bierley, Director of Advertising and Promotions, Buick. "Kindle's high contrast e-ink display eliminates glare and is perfect for emotionally engaging and impactful brand imagery, allowing us to connect with Kindle readers wherever and whenever."

Kindle with Special Offers includes all the same features that helped make the third-generation Kindle the #1 bestselling product in the history of

* Paper-like Pearl electronic-ink display, no glare even in bright sunlight
* 8.5 ounce body for hours of comfortable reading with one hand
* Up to one month of battery life with wireless off eliminates battery anxiety
* Kindle Store with over 900,000 books – largest selection of the most popular books
* Seamless integration with free "Buy Once, Read Everywhere" Kindle apps for iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Android-based devices

Learn more about all three latest-generation Kindle family members-$114 Kindle with Special Offers, $139 Kindle, and $189 Kindle 3G-at Advertisers and agencies interested in learning more about Kindle sponsorship opportunities can contact