Monday, April 11, 2011

'Lower Kindle 3 pricing with...' deals being offered... Ads. My thoughts. Update

Amazon's press-release is being distributed by many online newspapers and blogs of course, and at this point I can't say it's that much lower (!) for the ads you will agree to see. I'll show below what the press releases say so you can find out about this sooner than later, and I'm adding a few thoughts here.

  First, they are essentially Kindle display advertisements that are being offered, and for that you spend a bit less for your Kindle.  I wish it were a better deal, but some will want to see special deals on their Kindles, I guess.

"Amazon Introduces New Kindle Family Member: Kindle with Special Offers for $114"
' $25 less for the same #1 bestselling latest-generation Kindle plus special offers and sponsored screensavers '

  What about our own personal screensavers???  Is this why we have not been offered that BASIC feature that other e-readers have ?   Why are personal screensavers not at all encouraged (as an Amazon feature rather than making loyal Kindle users search for workarounds that they have to redo with each software update) to go along with the screensaver (screensleeper) ads?

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

There is more in the larger quote below from the body of the press release.

NOTE: There is no corresponding $25 lower price for the Kindle 3G model that is $189.  I guess they're not encouraging use of the 3G wireless that way so now the difference between the lowest-priced Kindle and the 3G model will be $75 rather than $50.

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

  I repeat:  What about our own personal screensavers???  Will those EVER be addressed?  Here's the rest of the press release, although I omit marketing paragraphs that most have seen on all the marketing and product pages
' SEATTLE, Apr 11, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) --

(NASDAQ:AMZN)-- ... 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.

  Note that this Kindle with special-deals advertising is a new "device" being marketed for the lower pricing.
' 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
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,
  $189 Kindle 3G --
at  Advertisers and agencies interested in learning more about Kindle sponsorship opportunities can contact '

I couldn't help adding a bit of editorial stuff in there and omitting a paragraph that actually says that the deal is a good fit for Buick because of the "unique device surrounded by a community of intelligent, passionate people" - Whaaat?  Amazon, yes we are..therefore, that sentence is not ideal, shall we say, in the press release.

I understand you're there to make a profit and not a loss for your shareholders, but I do wish you had not made the lower price only $25 less for the advertising, even if the advertising of deals is something probably many won't mind, I think, and some always want to know about when they're available.  Will it stop there?  With the Buick ads, I would guess no. Then the price should be lower.

I love my Kindle as a quiet refuge away from the advertising that surrounds me. But people will still have the choice of paying the usual $139 while the price remains at that level.

Update - After thinking on it more, I'll add that
  1. at least it is not (at this point) going into our Kindle books, and
  2. some who want a 'magazine' feel might like the ads :-)

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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  1. How long will it be before we see an ad that reads something like?

    "Buy a 2 year subscription to Kindle edition of The New York Times for just $xxx.xx and receive a free Kindle to read it on. ..."

    The free Kindle will of course be an ad sponsored version, but unlike the current Amazon version the advertisement feed and revenue stream derived from it would flow through the New York Times.

  2. Couldn't care less about the screen saver. At times, I thought it would be nice to have a custom screen saver that just said "This Kindle Belongs to Peter, please call (xxx-xxx-xxxx) or email ( if found." Aside from that, when I'm not reading, my Kindle is either on my bedside table or I'm carrying it in its case. First thing I do when I pick it up is slide the power key. $25 bucks for ads seems like pretty easy money. Not much, but easy.

    With this program, I'd say the odds of Amazon offering a $99 Kindle for Christmas 2011 just went up.

  3. Wow Andrys, when I saw a newsflash about this new Kindle offer, I had to say that, while not surprised, i'm still a bit sad to see advertising invading yet another area of our lives.

    I'm sure the sleep screen ads are just the tip of the spear, so to speak. Looks like $99 Kindles for Christmas are coming...

  4. Don't care about special offers. My thoughts after getting a Kindle 3 wireless only to test my creation of a book for Kindle. I went on to load books for my personal reading, so got some experience. Next time I would get the 3G version, just for the sometimes use of the browser. I very much miss the touch screen of my IPOD. I'm assuming the next model of Kindle will have touch screen, and I will probably upgrade.

  5. The downside from an advertiser's perspective is that someone's who has waited these many months and now decided to save $25 by buying this Kindle isn't likely to be the sort of rich impulse buyer that advertisers prefer. They'd probably get more of those sorts of people they want if this $25 savings applied to the more pricey cellular model.

    Also, I suspect the best advertising through this medium will be Amazon ads based on known customer preferences. Some who loves woodworking will come home to discover that the Kindle by his bed is displaying an ad for a woodworking tool or book. A quick click might allow him to purchase it on his Kindle or it might let him say "prompt me about this when I next visit the Amazon store." Only Amazon is properly positioned to turn these ads into a quick sell.

  6. I hope Amazon realises that once they start putting ads in eBooks, they're going to alienate the majority of their most loyal customers (yes, they've not done so yet, but with radio and television ads also started out as just in between the programs, and now they often are the programs).

    My guess is this is a trial for having branded Kindles where the customer (the one paying for the branding) can determine the content of the device on the fly, certainly as far as the screensaver is affected but possibly in other ways as well.
    It might not in this version get many impulse buyers, but it will attract more buyers anyway (and would have done so even more had they offered it at "a price too good to be true" of "just $99.99 (plus shipping)". Guess someone's been asleep at the wheel in Amazon's marketing department here.

  7. Is the new ad model at risk of becoming a relatively poorly-supported orphan like the DX?

    Regards, Don Lloyd

  8. This new version of the Kindle, by the way, won't be available on international markets "at this time", says Amazon.

  9. Are the ads ONLY on the screensleeper, or are there also ads on the main (library) screen? If it is only on the screensleeper, that's okay. But it does set precedent to insert ads on the library screen and within books. That would be a very bad thing.

    I would very much like to have more choice in screensleeper images. If not being able to use my own images, Amazon could make a little extra money offering screensleeper subscriptions. Maybe different categories of images, updated occasionally so we don't have to see the same ones over and over again.

  10. It seems like a good move by Amazon. Imagine Amazon now tie up the advertising with daily offers from Living Social - which I think Amazon partially owns.

  11. The ads are only supposed to be on the screensaver and home/library screen. I suspect it will be the publishers who push ads IN books, not Amazon.

    I ordered one. I have a Kindle 2 and Amazon isn't yet committing to pushing all software updates down to the 2 (I've asked). And frankly if the special offers are anything like the examples and focused on my purchasing habits, Amazon will make me happy by giving me a discount on things I would buy anyway.

    I figure I can always send it back if the ads are lame and seem intrusive. Or give it to ebooks for troops.

    I also suspect, but having nothing to back it up, that if this proves wildly unpopular and results in a lot of returns Amazon will stop the program.

    I think this is potentially a very smart move for Amazon and any forward thinking advertisers who use this. However, as it is not on the 3G model, I'm not sure maximum potential will be reached as the ads may not be targeted enough based on locale.

  12. Hi, all
    Thanks for all the (varied) feedback. I'm a bit behind! But wanted to reply some.

    A free Kindle w/ a subscription to the NYTimes for 2 yrs would probably be popular, now that the NYT website gives only limited access.

    Very pragmatic point of view, and I'm sure you and maclifer are right about the $99 come Christmas.

    I'm just hoping heavily that they keep the ad-free Kindles. And those who don't mind the "special offers" that resemble GroupOn deals would probably find them the creme on the tip of that spear :-) And, some people LIKE to look at images of fancy new cars.

    How brilliant is it to have 'voting' on which ad they should use. That way they get the eyes for each ad not only during but before and in more versions than you would see if it were just one ad. Participatory ad presentations are quite the method.

    But that's so far only on a voluntary basis, which makes it tenable, so if they can take the money and keep improving the BASIC Kindle and bring us a worthy Android tablet so we can get Amazon support on what SHOULD be a good tablet, it's worth a try.

    It's a business, and that's best-case, but it'll be interesting to monitor how it works for people.

    Cost is a defining factor in reactions. I think if they had gone straight to $99 for the ad-showing Kindle it would have grabbed a lot more people in a positive way and made a big splash and right away would be more convincing to advertisers. Those things tend to mushroom.

    $40 is what most would consider a minimal good 'deal' and of course $99 is the magic number for a device as good as the Kindle. That it wasn't lower tells me there is uncertainty on the advertisers' part on the amount of payoff from it and therefore Amazon's being very cautious here -- there are the stockholders to think of too.

  13. I have to say I'm excited about this. The price is just more palatable as I've been waiting a bit before taking the plunge. Where I draw the line is ads IN the text. But a screensaver ad is okay if it saves me $25.

  14. I updated to Firefox v4 and it wiped out my 2nd group note when I merely hit the Enter key at the end of a sentence. Refreshed the whole screen, so I'll try again.

    First, thanks to all who are giving feedback, as it's really interesting to see how this new development is affecting readers whether pro or con.

    The 3G capability is important to me also, and it was the ability to download no matter where you are (almost) that set the Kindle apart from the other e-readers. In my case I have a NookColor for magazines and easy portable web-browsing in color but the touch screen is way oversensitive and unpredictable, so I actually like the non-touch screen. I think they'll eventually do an Android Tablet and that would have the touch screen.

    Mike (Perry),
    Good point that those who opt for the lowest-cost model with $25 saving to have no ads may not be the most likely to do impulse buying that the advertisers hope for - unless they just want branding from this.

    Re the customer-preferences thing, advertising based on that might pay off for everyone, includ'g those who voluntarily get this in the partially ad-supported Kindle.

    Anonymous (1),
    Re the slippery-slope thing... true that it would have been palatable to more if they had just been able/willing to go to the $99 price now, and I think it would have had better effect where there is more clearly an upside on pricing (long term), better PR, and most people jumping on it right away.

    Don Lloyd,
    The DX's are supported as far as action if something goes wrong but I do agree that the DXG should have an upgrade for some of the features given to the Kindle 3, which uses the same newer screen. I think they'll be supporting the ad-focused Kindle a bit more.

    David Cuen,
    Hi. Yes, all Kindle models have been late in being available overseas. I think it's the same thing as if I bought a device from a company headquartered in, say, Australia -- I'd imagine that they would releas them first to those who live in that country and then to the rest of the world. But it doesn't feel good to be the ones who are needing to wait, particularly as long as some have waited for some of the newer offerings, such as Kindle apps.
    Thanks for pointing it out.

    The big ads are on the screensleeper :-) and smaller-type "deals," I think, would be at the bottom of the Main screen (where I like seeing the dictionary and then the search-bar that pops up when I start typing).

    I personally prefer the Kindle that won't have anything but book titles on the Main screen, but others will like to receive the type of 'offers' they describe in the marketing.

    Going into books? From what I remember, Amazon did file patents for the ability to do that. At the time people hoped they'd never try it on anything but at the END of books.

    As for choice in screensleepers, here's how they describe "customer preferences": -- "give us hints on the style and types of -sponsored- screensavers you prefer. For example, you can indicate that you'd like to see more or fewer screensavers that include elements such as landscapes and scenery, architecture, travel images, photography, and illustrations.
    Together, AdMash voting and Kindle Screensaver Preferences help us select the most attractive and engaging sponsored screensavers to display on your Kindle."

    So, new ones will always be ads. They'll want to display these enough to give advertisers incentive to buy advertising.

  15. Anonymous (3),
    It's true - Amazon invested about $175 million in LivingSocial. In this case, instead of making local offers, these would be Amazon-wide deals. I suspect this type of ad, viewed in more positive ways than Buick and Olay style ads, might be something some with other Kindles will want as a voluntary-only software extra. But the special-Amazon-deals would be used as the honey for the larger other-company ads...

    Yes, it's worth a try and if the ads are not what you like, you can return it or donate it, as you say.

    I do think a certain segment who've not sprung for the Kindle 3 before will see this as either a plus or something that's okay. It makes gift-giving easier in that the price may be more justifiable for some.

    Good point that without 3G involved, they won't have the benefits of targeting ads to locale (so popular right now).

    Again, thanks to all who are taking the time to give us their thoughts on this.

  16. Bonnie,
    Thanks for adding your input. I missed yours in the last group mail when I was catching up. Glad this does help you justify getting a Kindle 3. You know what you're getting, so that's good, and any livingsocial-type deals will probably go over well with many who watch for Amazon deals on a regular basis.

  17. It seems to me that if you can use the gift card? specials that are promised, this may indeed be a free Kindle fairly quickly. The thing that will probably hold me back is the 5 unit registration limit. With 2 Windows 7 computers, 2 DX's, 2 iPads and and a K3 (out of state), I seem to have taken up provisioning an ark.

    IF the $114 unit is really the same hardware as the K3, then shouldn't we expect to see voluntary ($, ??) conversions of K3's in the field to special offer units? (Assuming a successful trial)

    Regards, Don Lloyd

  18. Don,
    Yes, you're right. Felix Torres pointed that same thing out at yesterday. A few specials can save you the cost of the device. (My own belief is that these are not ad-Kindle specific offers, just that this Kindle can receive the alerts w/o a person having to look for them. But I could be wrong on that, as I've said.)

    You can register as may devices as you like, but an e-book can be on only as many devices that the publisher allows. (Average is 6, some allow 4 and some allow only 2!)

  19. Jeff Bezos is fond of quoting his vision to make Amazon the most customer-centric company on earth. Amazon customer service is legendary and I have personally benefitted from it on more than one occasion.

    However, many people treat their Kindles with a special fondness. They name it. They buy special skins and covers for it. It becomes a very special and personal device. They want to put their own photos on it as screensavers. Some resort to hacks risking their warranty to get this. Other e-readers provide this and it can't be any secret to Amazon that its customers want this.

    Now we know why we never got personal screensavers. Amazon had this other use for screensavers up their sleeve.

    Now perhaps (after the passage of some time so as not to undermine the launch of its advertising model) Amazon could offer Kindle owners and buyers the choice of personalized screensavers for just a few dollars more than the advertising supported model.

    If personalized screensavers are not offered some time this year I have to doubt the sincerity of Mr. Bezo's customer-centric credo.

  20. Andrys,

    "You can register as may devices as you like, but an e-book can be on only as many devices that the publisher allows. (Average is 6, some allow 4 and some allow only 2!)"

    Thank you. I checked with support, and they said exactly what you did.

    That brings up a question :

    Let's say you have a book with only 2 licenses, one installed on a K3 and one on a Windows 7 computer.

    Since a book cannot be removed from the W7 computer from 'Manage Your Kindle", but must be removed using the W7 computer itself locally with the app, how do you avoid losing one license if the W7 computer is no longer available for any of a million reasons?

    Thanks, Don Lloyd

  21. Don,
    First, it's -extremely- rare to see only 2 devices allowed at one time for a book. But, if you run into trouble like the type you've described, you can call Kindle Customer Svc Team and they would be able to do this for you though you might have to ask for next level up to get someone who knows how to do it...

  22. Hi Andrys,

    I recently got a kindle with special offers and when I tried to claim the $100.00 gift card when applying for an reward visa card, is telling me that they never had such an offer? They also don't have the 50% off on Roku and streaming player. Can you find out for me what is going on? I bought my kindle with special offers based on your review on these special offers and one of them being that $100.00 gift card. I called customer service a couple of times and they all said that they don't know what I was talking about and where did I see these offers. I even gave them the URL that took me to the kindle with special offers that included the $100.00 gift card. They said that they typed in the URL I gave them, but they don 't see the page that I was seeing. I'm so frustrated and feel that Amazon should be responsible for this. Thanks.


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