What would happen to print and e-book sales if the Kindle e-reader were distributed for free? The idea that e-readers could come with no cost in the near future isn’t out of the question, given that Kindle prices are dropping precipitously – today, the cheapest (ad-supported) Kindle costs only $79 in the U.S., down from $359 in 2009.
Bloggers and tech sites have speculated about free Kindles from the beginning, some pegging the date for the change as early as next month. This week, San Francisco Web 2.0 blog GigaOM suggested that free Kindles could be a good thing for writers.
For example, content like Kindle Singles – “not-quite-books [that] can be written and uploaded by anyone” – could get greater exposure if more people owned a Kindle. From GigaOM:
Offering a free – or ad-supported – Kindle would presumably just provide even more of an avenue for these kinds of books to reach readers, and that in turn could (theoretically at least) make it possible for more writers to make a living from their writing.
There’s also the argument that free Kindles could boost the use of new apps and services – for a price. GigaOM writes:
A free Kindle could be just the beginning of an explosion of book-like content from Amazon and others: The company is already talking about a “Netflix for books” that would offer content for a monthly fee. Why not offer a subscription to an author, so I can automatically get whatever he or she writes, regardless of length or format? … I’d be willing to bet more people would read more as a result.