In April of 2010, Target began selling the Amazon Kindle e-reader–the first brick and mortar store to carry the device–and this April, the store began selling the updated version of the device for a lower cost.
Target has priced the new Kindle in-store at $114 and there’s also a five percent discount if you purchase it with your Target RedCard. However, the catch for this low price is that this is the Kindle with Special Offers.
That means it’s the Kindle that comes pre-loaded with advertising.
Curious as to how the advertising was integrated into the Kindle, I asked for and was sent a review copy. I most wanted to see how intrusive the advertising might be to users. Would it be worth the extra $25-$30 to buy the Kindle without advertising?
I was also intrigued at the new ways companies are using to advertise in the rapidly changing digital world. Amazon is hardly the first to think of using their device for advertising. Over a year ago, Google announced that it was offering ads targeted to iPad users. All Things Digital featured a story about Three Cool iPad Ads last October.
After reading how Penny Arcade felt about these Target-basked Kindles with advertising (or spam, as you might call it), I was leery that the ads would interfere with my reading experience.
The answer for me is that the ads weren’t a bother.
In fact, the advertisements seemed far more on the level of coupons than spam. I already receive email notices from Barnes & Noble and Borders and a number of my favorite stories every day with special offers. The Kindle ads fall into the same category for me, meaning they’re potentially useful and yet easy to ignore, if necessary.
On the Kindle, you can see the ads in three places. If you press the “Menu” button on the home page, “Special offers” will show as a category you can click for more information. The second place is a small banner across the bottom of the home page. That one stays so long as you stay on the home page but doesn’t appear anywhere as you’re reading or shopping the Kindle store.
The third method has the ads popping up as screensavers when the Kindle is in sleep mode. If you’re interested what the screensaver ad is offering you can click and they’ll send the full offer via email.
I suspect Amazon and Target are soon not going to be the only ones targeting potential customers this way. The old methods of reaching people are dying out and advertising is regrouping to follow the crowd.
So here’s my question: Would you buy this Kindle or would you bypass it to buy the Kindle elsewhere for a potentially higher price?
Everyone who answers in the comments to this post will be entered to win a Kindle with Special Offers. I’ll announce the winner next Friday.
And for those who don’t want the advertising at the lower cost, Target still does carry the 3G Kindle for $189 and the regular Kindle WiFi for $139.