Would You Like Some Ads With Your Kindle E-Books?

BlogHer Original Post

Kindle 3Amazon recently announced it is launching a new special ads-supported Kindle. Ads and special offers will appear as full-page screensavers and as small banner ads at the bottom of the home screen. The ads will not appear in the e-books themselves. For this new version of the Kindle, Amazon has reduced the price of the device to $114 -- $25 less than the price of a regular Kindle.

We all new this day was coming, didn't we? We have ads in our smartphone apps. We have ads in our webpages. There are even ads in public toilet stalls. If I have to look at ads while using the bathroom, it was really only a matter of time before ads infiltrated the e-book market. I'm not even surprised that Amazon is the first to putting out a price-reduced Kindle that will show ads. The only thing that surprises me is that the price wasn't reduced more.

I don't think that a $25 price reduction to compensate for the ad views would be enough to tempt me if I was on the fence about purchasing a Kindle. Now if they had priced it at $99 I think we'd be having a different conversation and I'm not alone. TechCrunch is with me on this one.

Imagine a Kindle for $99. There would be a frenzy. Amazon would sell so many of them.

Even though the $15 price difference may not seem like much on paper, the psychological importance of losing that third digit cannot be downplayed. It’s the very reason why many items are often sold for $9.99 instead of $10.00. And $0.99 instead of $1.00. And so on…

I don't have a Kindle (my e-reader is a different brand), but I was curious about what someone who loved their Kindle thought about it. Robin loves her Kindle but even she's not sure what she thinks about the new Kindle.

Like most articles I’ve read on the topic, I certainly don’t think it’s worth a measly $25 off the regular Kindle edition. Sure it won’t interrupt the actual reading experience (yet), but it just seems off. And if people are paying to put their message on the device can’t Amazon afford to lower the price even more?

One of the things I've loved about books, no matter their format, is that they are largely an ad-free space. Yes, there are often ads at the back of books for other books. I've also read novels that dropped brand names so much that the author probably would have been paid some kind of promotional bonus. But I choose whether or not to read those back pages and whether or not to read those brand-heavy books. I consider the advertising in them to be opt-in because it's pretty easy for me to avoid it if I want.

But I also don't think that the ad-supported Kindle is a horrible idea. I tend to see ads and e-books as a sort of inevitability. While I don't think that Amazon got the price right, I do think they did make some good choices. First, they didn't just start sending ads to all the Kindle users. The consumers who buy this version of the Kindle know that they will be receiving ads. I can also live with their ad placement. I'm used to small banner ads in many of the free apps I downloaded for my iPhone.

The big thing that Amazon got right is they didn't put ads in the e-books themselves. If you are reading a book on this version of the Kindle you won't see ads inside your book. One of the things I dread seeing, and I'm fairly certain will appear at some point, is opening an e-book and finding a bunch of underlined text that links out to websites. Or pop-up ads when you turn the page. Or ad or commercial placements between chapters. If that day ever comes, I'm going to what Isobel Carr said in the Dear Author comments -- I'm going back to paper.

What do you think about the new ads-supported Kindle? How do you feel about the possibility of ads in your e-books?

Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

Photo Credit: kodomut.

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