You decide: Jane Austen with appendicitis or an Oil of Olay offer


On May 3, Amazon will start shipping the “Kindle with Special Features,” a $114 wifi-enabled Kindle ebook reader. The device costs $25 less than the technically-identical $139 Kindle model, the “special features” being money-saving coupon offers that show up as screensavers.

Let me stop and repeat that: You must pay $25 more for the “Kindle with NO Special Features,” the one that has standard screensavers that appear to be etchings dipicting famous authors in great pain.

So, here’s the decision you need to make: Pay extra for Edgar Allan Poe with hemorrhoids or save $25 and have screensavers with offers like: a $10 for $20 gift card, $1 for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store, $10 for $30 of products from the Amazon Swim Shop.


Let me explain this once more: The offers show up when you stop reading the Kindle and it sits there for five minutes or so and the screensaver comes on — these aren’t animated banner ads or email day spa offers. And (in theory at least) since Amazon knows more about what you purchase online that you do, the offer should anticipate that you’d probably respond to that half-off offer for a case of deodorant.

I know, I know, a screensaver depicting Harriet Beecher Stowe with lumbago is worth $25 more than half-off shoes from Zappos, but still.