Had I been posting this over the weekend, I would have been stomping my feet about Amazon requiring the display of advertising on the new Kindle Fire devices that are coming out later this fall. But apparently there was such a huge backlash against them, that less than 24 hours after the news of the required ads went public, they changed their mind and decided to offer an opt-out for $15. I almost wonder if the whole thing wasn’t part of a nefarious free advertising scheme.
I’m torn on this issue. Because I must verify book functionality on a number of devices, I own several different eReaders from various manufacturers, including a low-end black-and-white Kindle with the ads enabled (I was feeling cheap the day I bought it!), and I must say that they are relatively inoffensive. They are displayed at full-screen when the Kindle is off (currently the ad is for the new Kindle Fire HD), and take up maybe three-quarters of an inch at the bottom of the menu screen, and never display while reading a book.
I tend to think that, over time, Amazon would make a ton of money from selling advertising—significantly more than the opt-out fee for each device. On the other hand, I feel a bit of mild outrage that they would sell a product and then force buyers to view advertising on it. It’s like Hulu Plus—I have a subscription to it because my 8-year-old likes to watch cartoons on it, but even though I pay for it, I am still forced to watch their commercials, and, what’s worse, they have a terrible throughput rate—there is constant lag that I never experience from Netflix, which doesn’t show any commercials. My TV, laptop, and desktop computer don’t come with forced advertising from the device vendor (I expect commercials on free TV stations and even ads on free-access websites, but am similarly annoyed by commercials on paid channels); why should my eReader/tablet come with vendor-supplied ads that I am forced to view?
So yes, display all the ads you want on my ad-enabled Kindle that I bought at a discount specifically with the intent of allowing such ads; I ignore them the same way I ignore banner ads on web pages—they don’t even register in my peripheral vision—but to force ads on the reader who has already paid you hundreds of dollars for the device and continues to shell out cash on a regular basis for new books, apps, and perhaps an overpriced 4G subscription? That’s just an unacceptable business practice. Bad Amazon, no doughnut!