Amazon's Kindle: Now Brought To You By Buick?

If $140 for an Amazon Kindle e-reader is still too rich for your blood, the online book-seller is starting to take pre-orders for a new $113 “Kindle with Special Offers.” What makes it cheaper (and “special”)? The new e-reader will display advertisements on the Kindle’s screensaver and at the bottom of the home page.

Initially, the new Kindle will hawk Amazon discounts: 50-percent off $20 Amazon gift cards, $1 MP3 albums and the like. But Amazon’s also lined up heavy hitters–Buick, Olay (Procter & Gamble), Visa, and Chase–for its first-round of screen-saver ads.

A Forrester Research analyst quoted by USAToday speculates that the ads, which, when clicked, email details of the offer to users, could “have the potential to turn Amazon into a mini-Groupon.”

A spokesperson from Buick explained that his brand was willing to experiment with Kindle ads as part of a larger attempt to be seen as cool.

“Consumer perception of our brand is still an old and dated perception and we need to force a reappraisal. Partnering with other progressive brands helps us to do that,” he told the paper.

“We’re working hard to make sure that anyone who wants a Kindle can afford one,” says Amazon’s web site today. “We want to thank our launch sponsors…for helping us make Kindle more affordable than ever for our customers.”

When the new Kindle becomes available on May 3, owners will be able to indicate the types of ads they wish to see. But the only way to opt out of the online ads? Buy the $140 WiFi-only Kindle or the $189 3G Kindle, which will remain ad-free. For now.

Amazon introduces cheaper Wi-Fi Kindle with ads [USAToday]