Amazon just unveiled its latest addition to the Kindle family: a $114 Kindle with “Special Offers and Sponsored Screensavers.” With its six-inch screen and Wi-Fi, this model is virtually the same as the $139 Kindle with Wi-Fi — the difference being those “sponsored screensavers,” which is to say: ads. For a $25 reduction in price, the new model will contain text ads on the images that appear onscreen in the device’s “off” mode, and small text ads at the bottom of the home screen. There won’t be any ads inside the books you download.
This sounds pretty fair to me. If I were going to buy another Kindle for, say, my teenaged daughter or my husband, this new $114 model — which has a release date of May 3 — would be mighty tempting. Admittedly, one of the things I adore most about my Kindle (I have the $189 version with 3G) is its lack of distractions and clickable links; it feels much more like reading a bound book than reading on a computer, and the cumbersomeness of web-browsing on the Kindle entirely removes, for me, the temptation to surf away from the story I’m reading.
The only time I ever use my Kindle’s wireless connection is when I am downloading a new book. This way, the battery lasts for weeks and weeks. (Weeks! This amazes me. I’m mighty fond of my smartphone, but that doggone thing can hardly get through a full day without needing more juice.) If I’m correctly understanding the way the ads work on the $114 model, turning off Wi-Fi will turn off the ads.
That means the difference between the $114 and $139 models is a $25 savings for occasional advertisements — and coupons for special offers. Now this is the bit that makes me grumpy. Amazon’s examples of the new model’s special offers include:
• $10 for $20 Amazon.com Gift Card
• $6 for 6 Audible Books (normally $68)
• $1 for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store
• Buy one of 30 Kindle bestsellers with your Visa card and get $10 Amazon.com credit
To which I say: now wait a second. As the owner of an $189 Kindle, I’d sure like a coupon for a half-price gift card to pop up on my screen! I get that the “special offers” are another form of advertisement, but these are ads I’d be glad to opt-in for. I mean, $6 for six Audible books? A couple of deals like that, and the new Kindle pays for itself.