burningmoneyAh, the good old days of plain-text e-book readers side-loaded with content from now-defunct Fictionwise! Now, even the most basic readers out there are borderline mini-computers these days. Amazon’s Fire Tablet is a full Android tablet and costs less than an e-ink reader.

One of the side effects of today’s always-connected devices, though? Data charges. And they can burn through your money in surprising ways. This Techdirt story, for instance, offers an intriguing hypothesis that links the rise of ad blockers to data charges. I would have guessed that people use these tools primarily because they simply don’t care to see ads. But a new survey suggests that it may be because media-rich ads can consume a ton of mobile data. And that can get expensive.

So, could an e-book reader cost you money if it advertises to you? My e-ink Kindle does try to push content suggestions at me from the home screen, but that device is not hooked up to a data plan and only uses WiFi. It’s not the villain, if there is one.

A more likely “bad guy” would my phone, which does use data. If the Kindle app started embedding advertising into that, I’d have to reconsider my mobile app choices. I don’t mind paying for my books, but I don’t want to pay every time I read them too with unwanted data uses.

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. Of course, the only circumstance where these bandwidth-soaked ads could actually cost extra money is if you’re browsing via a smartphone or some other device using a cellular-linked hotspot. If you’re on WiFi, it’s usually free.

  2. Lots wrong with this story:

    1) “even the most basic readers out there are borderline mini-computers these days.” Not for the user. Compare a rooted Nook ST to the Voyage. The Voyage could do as much as much as the rooted Nook ST, but it doesn’t because Amazon hobbles the OS.

    2) re: adblock. Until recently I had adblock turned off on this site. It’s back on. Why? Not because of data-charges. It’s because I opened a page and the fan whirred on my computer and the page took twice as long to load. Because of an ad. When I’m connected to a power outlet, that’s irritating. When I’m running on battery, that’s a show-stopper.

    I will try once again turning off adblock again on this site. But ads take up too much of my ram, battery and time. Be warned…

  3. @RandolfT: Big thanks for the feedback, but the Playster ad at the top is pretty slim at 32KB. We have only one other ad—smaller—on TeleRead’s home page. I’m baffled how you could our blame the ads. As for e-readers as data hogs or nonhogs, this is subjective, but keep in mind the bottom line, Joanna concluded that phones were far greater risks than dedicated readers. David

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