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.



Filed under Amazon Kindle

29 responses to “Amazon’s Kindle Price Punking

  1. “Real” writers, that is, professional, competent scribes with impeccable syntax and a proven devotion to the printed word, will cease to exist. We’re heading for a “post-literate” future, Mike…that’s what some of the wannabes out there are insisting when they’re taken to task for their juvenile, inept scribbling. Phooey on stuff like good spelling, graceful sentence structure and all that muck (they say). Fan fiction rules the day, knock-offs of popular franchises, erotic fantasies of non-penetrative sex with a vampire. Celebrity tell-alls and their hack ghost writers outsell the latest DeLillo by the gazillions and comic book movies top the box office.

    Welcome to the New Age, populated by morons with only a superficial knowledge of anything outside their favorite vanity mirror. I tremble when I ponder what the future will bring next, on a silver tray leaking blood, a cloth draped tastefully over something that might have once been a person…

    • mikecane

      I was going to email you the link. Glad to see you got it anyway.

      I suggest reading “Paris in the 20th Century” by Jules Verne. A more frighteningly prescient book I have never read. Tops all the rest.

  2. Here’s the big question: Is the Fire ad-supported? Bezos and co. didn’t say it was, but they didn’t say that about the other low-priced Kindles either. Seems like ad-support might be their new default setting.

    • mikecane

      The Fire isn’t something I’m interested in, which is why you’ve seen a post only about the privacy-bending aspects of its Silk feature.

  3. Shock Me

    I read Paris in the 20th Century a number of years ago now.

    If only he had added joke-telling robots and half-naked women with guns it would have sold millions and long-dead Jules would have dead by the Enquirer on a mountain of coke.

    And Amazon will sell millions. Yikes.

  4. Unfortunately, I agree with you. This is terrible. I wonder now if I was subconsciously avoiding upgrading my Amazon account to add Kindle because of the subtle signs of where it was going. In any case, I will not consider owning and using one of these devices.

    While it seems to me that ads in books are not new, I seem to remember trade paperbacks in the US had them at least back when I lived in the States, the types of ads we can expect in the digital world are nothing like the print ones I remember, and you’re right to be worried about them and about what ad-subsidized books will do for the market. Don’t even get me started on the tracking either.

    I haven’t read “Paris in the 20th Century” so I’ll put it on my list. I was however thinking how much this seemed to me like the world M.T. Anderson described in “Feed.” Sobering.

  5. stasoline

    Really disagree with this, you can make the exact same case for TV/movies (Hulu), apps (free-to-try versions with ads) and music (Spotify, etc).

    People get access to more, and it’s free – that’s a good thing. For those who want the premium of not having ads there is a paid option.

    We need to embrace change instead of resist it on grounds of self-pride. More information is a good thing.

  6. This is terrible! Next thing you know, there will be ads in magazines and newspapers!

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  9. jdt

    I like your analysis. My question though, is if I buy the Kindle with ads, can’t I root it because it’s Android and add the non-ad layer of the Kindle? Can’t we get a hack that disables all the tracking and evercookies and even the ads because it does sit on Android?

    • mikecane

      The Kindle has never been based on Android. It remains to be seen if these new ones are. If they are, it’d be an even bigger win for Amazon, because people would buy them as cheap eInk pseudo-tablets — just as people have bought the Nook Touch for that.

  10. It’s the same model we’ve lived with our entire lives: “Free” television has ads. “Premium” television does not. Pay the $30.

  11. Yawn. This argument is tired and irrelevant. Magazines have ads, and I know of many extraordinary writers who publish in that medium. Why so elitist? Good golly. This will allow more people to read more good stuff. Instead of seeing this as “selling out” and the end of some supposed high-minded intellectualism of the good old days(when exactly was that again??), see it for what it is: cost shifting. Bravo for new business models!!! Bravo for choice!!! You go, Amazon. Don’t let the folks who don’t understand how capitalism funds democracy daunt you!

    • mikecane

      >>>Don’t let the folks who don’t understand how capitalism funds democracy daunt you!

      And you don’t know the difference between “free enterprise” and “capitalism.” NEXT!

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  13. Euro2cent

    I find that “among illiterates” Canetti quotation particularly vicious, and bearing little relation to reality.

    It’s the kind of thing a boot-licking intellectual would use to put down people who, for all their foibles, are generally more sincere.

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