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For many months there has been speculation that might ultimately give away its Kindle e-reader as a way of cementing its position in the market and selling more digital books. Yesterday’s announcement of an ad-supported Kindle for $114 might have seemed like more evidence supporting that theory.

But it turns out that’s not the case.

“The economics don’t work” to give the Kindle away, Amazon’s Jay Marine tells’s Tricia Duryee in an interview. Pressed on whether the device might still be offered free to a special segment of Amazon customers, such as Amazon Prime members, Marine is less absolute but says people shouldn’t get their hopes up.

So much for that, at least for now.

In the meantime, many people in the industry are left wondering about that $114 price for the ad-supported version. Why couldn’t the company get it down to $99, that “magical” price that makes something a no-brainer of a purchase for many consumers.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like the manufacturing costs of the Kindle are still too high for Amazon to justify the $99 price. But it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see an ad-supported $99 Kindle in the future, maybe even sometime this year.

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