Kindle On Fire

Amazon released its new line of Kindle Fires recently, and a mob of pitchfork-wielding villagers are furious that the least costly model features ads on the unlock and home screens.

This move had been rumored for a while, so it really wasn’t a shock to me. In fact, if done properly, this could have been a really great thing: a way to reduce the price of tablets to make them more affordable for younger customers, students, or lower-income families (or school boards). This is a particularly important move if tablets are, in fact, the way the textbook market will eventually shift.

In practice, I’m not sure that was how things actually worked out. Apparently the convenience of not having ads on your device is only worth $15—not enough to make much difference for low-income families, but maybe enough for a significant difference if purchased in bulk by a school district or university department. At this point, the textbook market has a long way to go in improving digital availability before academic distribution is a legitimate argument for the ads.

And, perhaps, the ads aren’t such a big deal anyway and this is all just much ado about nothing.