Last week I pointed out that Amazon has put a number of its Kindles on sale at 20% off in the run-up to Mother’s Day. (You still have time to get your Mom a nice e-reading gift, by the way!) Lately, Paul Ausick of 24/7 Wall St. has pondered the question of why Amazon might have done this. It isn’t exactly hard to guess that Amazon wants to sell more Kindles, but it’s interesting to consider some of the details behind the move.

Ausick cites research showing that Kindle owners spent an average of $226 on e-books and $99 on paper books in 2015, so it’s pretty clear that getting Kindles into people’s hands is a sure way to move more e-books. But another point is that 41% of new Kindles in the last six months were sold to repeat buyers. So every basic Kindle Amazon gets into a new user’s hands cheaply represents several potential new Kindle sales down the road as they upgrade to better models.

I’m a little more skeptical of another point Ausick makes—that women have been shown to read more books and more e-books than men. Nonetheless, it is true that none of the images on the Amazon page for the Kindle shows men reading. It’s all girls and women, all the way down to the bottom. But then, the sale is a promotion for Mother’s Day, so perhaps that emphasis on women is to be expected.

Although Ausick doesn’t bring this up, one other thing worth considering is that even the least expensive e-ink Kindle costs considerably more than the 7” Fire tablet that does more, but doesn’t have as good a display for reading (and has more inherent distractions besides). (Especially since that tablet has also just had a $10-off sale tacked onto it.) Chopping that price down by $20 could help make these Kindles more attractive, which in turn means the owner is likely to read more rather than spending all their time social networking or playing Sudoku—which, again, means more e-book sales for Amazon.

Of course, if that graphene-based e-paper technology I just mentioned comes in, that price differential could be less of an issue in the future.


The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail