Amazon’s Kindle Price Punking

All you’ll hear is “$79 Kindle!” “$99 Kindle!”

I believed it too. Jeff Bezos punked all of us. Here’s a key slide from the announcement:


What’s missing in that list?

When you go to look at the “$79 Kindle” and “$99 Kindle,” you find out those are with ads.

Kindle without ads: $109.00.

Kindle Touch without ads: $139.00.

That’s a $30 difference.

Stop to think about that for a minute.

If Amazon is giving you a $30 break like that, how much more are they making over that $30?

You’re no longer a reader.

You’re a product they’re selling to others!

Look around you on the Internet.

There was a huge outcry over the introduction of banner ads.

And look at where we are today, with popunders, popovers, rolldowns, rollovers, crawls, and more. Not to mention all those goddammed animated ads in boxes off to the side. Go to any mainstream media news site — especially one for TV or radio — and you’ll see what the endgame of advertising has become.

I’m not even going to mention evercookies, OK?

By agreeing to a measly $30 discount to sell yourself out, your Kindle basically becomes its own damn evercookie.

This is not going to stop with screensaver ads.

Jeff Bezos will give away books for free.

The books will have ads in them.

You’ll get what you think is a “free” book and advertisers will get to drop a cookie in your head for their product, Amazon will get to track what you respond to like Pavlov’s dog, and every little scummy wannabe who crawls out of the woodwork for NaNoWriMo will dominate books because they won’t give a shit about art or integrity — they’ll be making money, just like any hoor on a street corner or filthy back alley.

Among illiterates money is regarded as the measuring rod for all things: for friendship, goodness, education, power, love.

Auto-da-Fé by Elias Canetti

And Amazon’s X-ray feature? That’s not to enhance your reading experience. That’s to figure out where the future ads can go!

This is much bigger than getting a cheaper Kindle.

Jeff Bezos has thought steps ahead of everyone else.

Now I’ve caught up to what he’s planned — only because he’s made it so blatantly obvious to an eejit like me.

I don’t know where the hell real writers go from here.

I don’t know where the hell public libraries go from here.

But none of it looks good to me at all.

And to all of you who are skeptical: eInk won’t be here forever. There will be color, like Mirasol. Which can do animations. How much are you going to like having to watch an animated ad before you’re allowed to read the next chapter “for free”?

It’s not just print that’s dead now.

So is the entire idea of what we’ve known as books and book culture.


  1. K H Acton28 September, 2011

    I think Amazon has stated they would never put ads in books. Currently it just replaces the awful screen-savers they have. The special offers, though, are added value–$20 Amazon gift card for $10. Special offer Kindles have been around now for a while and I don’t think people have found them intrusive (I kinda wish I’d waited to get one).

    1. K H Acton28 September, 2011

      I know, I know, never NEVER means never, but you’re being a little too paranoid, I hope.

  2. Laura28 September, 2011

    Yup, the Nook Touch and the comparable Kindle Touch are actually the same price.

  3. Gary Smith28 September, 2011

    Well, now, hold on there before you declare an end to Western Civ… I’ll start panicking when there is no option without the ads. I mean, there are still movies, 50 years after commercialized TV.

    I think the next frontier is product placement in books.

    “Lucky Strike, Scarlett?”
    “Don’t mind if I do, Rhett – they’re toasted!”

  4. Common Sense29 September, 2011

    Wow! Amazon is selling a product and wants to make a profit, who would have thought?

    Look, it was clear from the product pages and the comparison chart that the Kindles with Special Offers were a lower price and if that offends you so much, you can still get one WITHOUT special offers for a bit more.

    Some people enjoy the offers and for others, the $30 may make the difference between having a Kindle or not having Kindle at all.

    Oh, and here’s news, you can still buy paper books with no ads.

  5. Richard Adin29 September, 2011

    Just remember that “Amazon is your friend” and unlike Mark Zuckerburg, Jeff Bezos will grease the shaft first. You should have no fear that Bezos will sell all your data to unscrupulous phishers; it will require more than 5 pieces of silver (probably 6 will do).

    One missing worry is what will happen to ebook pricing if Amazon forces B&N to fold. Once those tentacles are around your neck, it becomes easy to squeeze.

  6. Laura29 September, 2011

    It’s almost a bait and switch. When all of you at the conference were reporting the lower prices, I thought, “Wow, no one’s telling them those are ‘with special offers’ prices”. On the Amazon website, the lower prices are prominently displayed everywhere. It’s only when you get to each individual product page that ad-free price is shown in smaller type. In most cases, they’re $40 more. The base model is $30 more, and the Kindle Keyboard 3G costs $50 more.

    1. Nate Hoffelder29 September, 2011


  7. the rodent29 September, 2011

    > I don’t know where the hell real writers go from here.
    Uh, yeah. They will become their own publishers and sell their stuff without ads for no profit to the 3 people besides their mothers that will buy it… Making money from actually writing good stuff without ads will become a thing of the past.


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