The Tech-pert: Is the Amazon Kindle Special Offers Worth the Price?
I'm not sure how to feel right now.
Yesterday, Amazon took the wraps off the Kindle with Special Offers
, an updated version of the $139 Wi-Fi-only Kindle. What's so "special" about it? In a word: ads.
Priced at $114, the Kindle with Special Offers (KSO for short
) displays ads instead of the author illustrations that normally appear when the device is in standby mode. It also shows ad banners along the bottom of the home screen.
Ads don't appear in books--for now.
Like I said, I'm not sure how to feel about this. As a card-carrying cheapskate, I'm certainly in favor of saving $25 on a Kindle. What's more, many of the Special Offers planned for the KSO rollout look pretty attractive: a $20 Amazon gift card for $10, $6 for six audiobooks, 50 percent off a Roku box, and so on. What's not to like?
Apart from the obvious--books have always offered an escape from advertising, arguably the last one left on the planet--I think Amazon made a crucial mistake with the KSO: $114 is not that great a deal.
For starters, if you have an eBay account, you can buy a Barnes & Noble Nook for $119 shipped
. (And watch for deals; I've seen that price as low as $79 in recent weeks
.) As I noted in my recent post on what to look for when comparing eReaders
, the Nook has the enviable ability to borrow e-books from your local library.
So does the Kobo, available from Borders
for $99.99. In other words for five bucks more--or 15 bucks less than the KSO--you can get a similar reader that's free of advertising, and compatible with free library e-books. (Kindle doesn't support the all-important EPUB format
I'm truly puzzled by Amazon's decision to price the KSO at $114. Any first-year marketing student will tell you that the $99 price point is infinitely more attractive to buyers. No doubt the KSO will get there eventually; I just don't understand why it didn't start there. (And don't get me started on the name. "Kindle with Special Offers"? That may just be one of the worst product names ever, and I've seen a few
Ultimately, I wouldn't buy the KSO just to save $25, as I don't think the savings are deep enough--and I really don't want ads intruding on my reading experience, however unobtrusively. There are better eReader options out there, all of them ad-free--for now, anyway.
Okay, your turn: think you'll order a KSO? (It's available for pre-order now, with delivery expected around May 3
.) Do you think it's okay for ads to join e-books, or do you agree they have no place together? How low would Amazon need to price the KSO for you to pull the trigger? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Self-proclaimed cheapskate Rick Broida has been a technology writer for
over 20 years. He has authored over a dozen books, including, most recently,
"How to Do Everything: Palm Pre." Currently he writes the Cheapskate blog.