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Amazon Finally Convinced Me to Buy a Kindle – But Only Because it Was Free

by Ryan Guina

I finally bit the bullet and bought an Amazon Kindle, even though I didn’t particularly want one. I know that sounds odd, especially for someone who advocates saving money as much as I do. But that is the exact reason I bought the Amazon Kindle – buying the Kindle actually saved me more money than the cost of the Kindle, making it essentially free!

Amazon Kindle with Special Offers

Amazon Kindle 3

Amazon Kindle with Special Offers

By now you’ve probably read or heard about the Amazon Kindle with Special Offers, the Amazon Kindle that sells for a $25 discount from the standard model, which is ad-free. I remember reading about it when it first came out and I thought it was an awful idea. The discount wasn’t enough for me – in my opinion, if Amazon wanted to place ads on their Kindle, they should give them away for free.

Fast forward a few months, and I bought the Amazon Kindle with Special offers. I know, it seems I’m not doing well here… I didn’t really want a Kindle, and I especially didn’t want the Kindle that has ads. But like I said, it was essentially free, so I couldn’t pass it up.

Free Amazon Kindle? No Way!

You’re right. I paid face value for the Kindle – $114, plus tax at a local Wal-Mart (I would have purchased it online, but time was of the essence).

So how was it free?

I was under the impression that Amazon created the Kindle with Special Offers as a means to place 3rd party ads and subsidize the discount. But Amazon also puts their own ads on there. In addition to heavily promoting the Amazon credit card, they also run deals at Amazon.com from time to time.

The deal that netted me a free Amazon Kindle. After living without a TV for the last 6 months, my wife and I decided it was time to buy a new one. When I research a major purchase I read a variety of professional and independent reviews, look at the item in person if possible, and compare prices. During this last step I found a thread at Slick Deals which lists Plasma HDTV prices and deals. This was the key.

The thread at Slick Deals listed an Amazon discount for 20% off an HDTV at Amazon (expired), but it was only available to owners of the Kindle with Special Offers, and it was only available for a few days (hence the need to buy the Kindle at Wal-Mart instead of directly from Amazon). Amazon was smart about it too – the Kindle had to be registered in the buyer’s name for the discount to work… the only way to take advantage of the deal was to own the Kindle with Special Offers.

Since I had already decided on which TV I would buy, simple math told me that I could buy the Kindle, get the discount on the TV, and still come out ahead by $40 in the end. At that point it was a no brainer – I was already prepared to spend the money, so the free Kindle was a bonus. Net result: TV + Kindle + date money. Not a bad deal!

Thoughts on the Kindle with Special Offers

I honestly didn’t think the Kindle with Special Offers was right for me. I was planning on waiting for the eReader market to mature a little more because I don’t like paying the early adopter’s tax and I didn’t like the idea of ads on the eReader. But the net effect of getting it for free plus saving a few bucks made it right for me in the end. Additionally, the ads only show when you are on the home page (menu) or when it it turned off; they don’t otherwise interfere with your reading experience. So it isn’t that bad, and it’s a nice way to save $25 if you don’t mind the ads – and if you’re lucky, you might even be able to save a lot more!


Published or updated December 29, 2011.
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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 krantcents

My wife received a Kindle for the holidays. Her books are cheaper than if she went out and bought them, however she reads more so it balances out. The bottom line is it is more convenient!

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2 Ryan

The Kindle is certainly more convenient – it’s lighter than the average paperback and stores thousands of books. I also like that the books are less expensive on average than buying a hard cover book, and some paperback books.

So far I have a few dozen books that I downloaded for free (mostly books in which the copyrights have expired, primarily old classics). I believe I read that many libraries will offer books on the Kindle, so I’m looking forward to seeing which books our library has available. Right now I have enough material to last a long time before I need to start buying many books. So for now, the added cost of having a Kindle is nil.

I don’t know if your wife likes the classics – but there are dozens of them available. Just search Kindle books by price from low to high and you can find hundreds of free books. I highly recommend it!

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3 Craig

Sounds like a great deal you made out with. I’ve been deciding whether or not to buy the Kindle for some time. I enjoy reading, and actually enjoy the shopping experience of going to the store. But the price and more importantly lack of space is getting tough. I may wait for the new Kindle to come out over the summer before buying one.

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4 Ryan

I was planning on waiting too – I think there is still a lot of room for growth in the eReader market, and I was planning on waiting for both increased specs and lower prices, and both will come sooner rather than later. But in this case, it didn’t make sense for me to wait for the new version. I definitely would have waited if I didn’t need to buy it to save the money on our new TV.

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5 Mike Piper

I bought the wifi-only version without ads about a week before the ad-supported version was announced. Frankly, I’d have bought the ad-supported version for the same price. My understanding is that the ads aren’t intrusive, and all you lose are the silly little pictures of authors that normally show up when you power off the device.

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6 Ryan

That’s a good way to put it – just on the screensaver and a small banner at the bottom of the menu pages – very much like the small ads you see on a smartphone. The savings have already made up for the inconvenience in my book. ;)

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7 Ryan

Joe, that was my original thought as well, but now that I have the Kindle with Special offers, it doesn’t bother me. The ads only show at three times: 1) as a screen saver when the unit is turned off, 2) as a small banner at the bottom of the screen when you are in a menu page, and 3) when you click on an ad and it brings you to a full screen landing page.

The first is basically irrelevant, since it doesn’t really matter when the unit is turned off. The second is unobtrusive and reminiscent of the mobile ads on a smartphone, and the third only occurs when you actively choose to view an ad (it’s not easy to accidentally click an ad like it is on a smartphone).

I wouldn’t have bought this model without the deal already in place and if I wasn’t planning on already buying a TV that weekend, but now that I know more about it, I would probably choose to get this model because Amazon has frequent good offers for purchases through Amazon.com (for example a $20 gift card for $$10). If it is a purchase you were already planning, then it is worth it for some people. But I also understand those who don’t want ads at all.

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8 20 and Engaged

Welcome to the Kindle club! I’m glad to know the ads don’t affect the reading experience, which is what I was concerned with, but it looks like it’s going to be a great gift for people again this year come Christmas time.

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9 Ryan

I think prices will drop again before Christmas, and there will probably be another model too. I have actually been waiting for a newer model and lower prices, but I couldn’t pass on this deal! :)

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10 Jeremiah

how in the world can you equate a TV purchased on a discount to a free kindle? you paid for the TV, and you paid for the kindle.

you paid less for the TV than you would have, because of the kindle, yes, but that doesn’t mean you got a free kindle, it just means you paid less for the TV. the offset paid for the kindle, but it could have paid for a lot of other things you didn’t say you got for free.

My point is, if you spent money, you didn’t get anything for free. you got a discounted kindle and a discounted TV.

And, if you ever get anything for free, truly free: you’re the product being sold.

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11 Ryan

Jeremiah, of course I paid for the Kindle. The reason I wrote that it was “free” was because I was able to get a coupon code from the Kindle that was worth much more than the price of the Kindle. I had already decided on buying that TV for price X, but with the Kindle, I was able to buy the TV and the Kindle for price x – $40. So I got the TV I wanted, the Kindle, and saved $40 more than the price I was already willing to pay (which was the lowest price I could find anywhere else on the Internet). It didn’t make financial sense not to buy the Kindle, since the TV would have cost me more had I not purchased the Kindle. And I didn’t get a discounted Kindle. I paid full price.

No, it wasn’t free. But it would have cost me more if I didn’t get it. So I bought it, and I still have an extra $40 to use for a bunch of other “free things.”

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