The Amazon Kindle 3 is the most popular e-book reader on the market right now, by some way, and it looks like Amazon's latest initiative will boost the popularity of the Kindle even further. Starting on May 3, customers will be able to get a $ 25 discount on a Wi-Fi only Kindle by choosing an advert supported model. The "Kindle with special offers", as it is referred to on the Amazon site, replaces photos of famous authors with adverts on the screen saver and at the bottom of the home page.
The Kindle reader with Special Offers retails for $ 114 and, with the exception of the sponsored screen savers, is identical in all aspects to the standard Wi-Fi only Kindle which is on sale for $ 139. The adverts appear only on screen saver pages and at the bottom of the home screen, so they shouldn't detract from the reading experience. Of course, anybody who dislikes the idea of adverts on their Kindle can opt for the standard model without ads.
At the end of the day, it's a matter of personal choice. Some people will gladly accept the ads in return for a price reduction; whereas others will prefer to pay a little bit more for a Kindle without ads. Where that split appears will, in all probability, be defined by the level of discount offered. Whether or not a $ 25 discount is quite enough to encourage a large number of customers to accept ads on their Kindle readers is debatable.
Which prompts the question; how large a discount would be necessary to make a sponsored Kindle attractive to most people? As a matter of fact, should an advert supported Kindle be completely free? The answer may well depend upon how much additional business the sponsored screen savers generate.
A good deal of the adverts will probably be for products on the Amazon website. However, there are a number of other companies lining up to sponsor Kindle screen savers, including General Motors, Visa and Procter and Gamble. It seems probable that, with the correct product, the Kindle could prove to be a happy hunting ground for advertisers - especially if their product can be bought straight from the Amazon website.
It's not entirely unthinkable that, were the return on investment to be high enough, advertising might well lead to a larger discount than $ 25. Could we see a free Kindle in future? It will be purely dependent upon the success of the special offers strategy.
And, of course, other e-book reader manufacturers would be free to adopt a similar strategy in future. Amazon definitely enjoys an advantage over a lot of other e-book reader manufacturers thanks to the fact that the Kindle can be used to purchase special offers directly. Companies such as Barnes and Noble could probably implement something similar, and they may well find such an arrangement profitable.
Given how popular e-books and e-book readers are today, it's easy to forget just what a recent development the market is. There are numerous alternatives for the pricing of both e-book readers and e-books, and there's certainly no reason to believe that the pricing plans which we are seeing today will continue in in the long term. It will be very interesting to see just where Amazon will go with their special offer Kindle, and also how the various other e-book reader manufacturers will react to this latest development.