When the Kindle was first launched, you could subscribe to the Kindle edition of the Times for $13.99 a month.
Then, a year ago this week, the Times announced it was raising its Kindle price to $19.99. Kindle owners could be excused for feeling just a week bit picked on, since the announcement came at roughly the same time that the Times began making a special iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch edition available absolutely free.
That wasn’t very nice, but reading the Times on the Kindle is pretty convenient, and sufficient numbers of Kindle owners paid the higher price that the Times was able to hold on to its position as #1 bestselling newspaper in the Kindle Store.
Then, last Fall, Amazon and the Times worked out a confusing deal that made the Times available free to new Kindle subscribers for two months. Old Kindle subscribers got nothing. Except the price increase.
That wasn’t very nice, or even particularly logical. (Meanwhile, the Times app for the iPad says it will remain free until early 2011. We’re not sure what “early” means, but it is still free.)
Now, today, we have an announcement from Amazon that the Times will make its website free to its Kindle subscribers. That’s the Times website that has always been free, but for which the Times announced recently it will soon begin charging. So, I guess you’d have to say that this is nicer than some of the Times’ treatment of Kindle owners over the past few years. But it does strike me as a strange benefit, because after all, if you are paying $20 a month to read the Times on your Kindle, doesn’t that indicate that the Kindle edition is working pretty well for you, so that you might find yet another online edition sort of redundant?
It’s entirely possible I am missing something here. And I guess I will be pretty surprised if the Times doesn’t announce very soon that there will be a charge for its iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch apps. But far be it from me to predict what the Times might do next, when I can’t see the shaping force of reason or reasonableness behind anything it has done in the past.
In any case, here’s today’s press release from Amazon on the subject: