This could be a smart move. I've often thought about a Kindle, but never really wanted one bad enough to shell out for it (although I'm pretty sure I'll get the iPad). Dropping one in my lap, knowing that I spend a lot of money on Amazon, could be a very smart move for Amazon to make. Maybe I'll love the Kindle, use it a ton, buy a ton of books, and show all my friends.
I also love the fact that the 2-day shipping often comes in 1 day b/c of the efficiency of Amazon's warehouse/distribution network.
I already read quite a few books on my iPhone(Kindle app, and Stanza) so I would probably end up paying for a Kindle in book purchases over the life of the device. Seems like a win-win.
Yes. I invented three step-brothers with whom I share my membership. Effective cost is $20/household/year.
 Note for other post: you don't have to share actual accounts - you can invite people to share prime membership; they will use their own account to do their own shopping but still get the same perks.
I have never considered paying for Prime beyond the free trials they sometimes run. But if they gave me a free Kindle, I'd sign up for it. I also know that I'd end up dropping ten bucks a pop for book-after-book-after-book.
I've been on the fence about readers for a while now. I'm a programmer, but I have a degree in American literature. Most of the books I own were written over a century ago. Unfortunately, these books simply don't come in a Kindle edition often enough to justify the purchase of the reader. But if Amazon gave me the reader, it probably would lead me to buy more new titles and magazine subscriptions. And, of course, eventually the titles I want will be available in Kindle editions.
I guess the real question is how many additional sales would Amazon gain from someone like me + my likelihood of upgrading to the next version of the Kindle vs. the production cost of the Kindle. I bet the math makes sense over the long haul. It's not that different a calculus than I use when I buy Amazon Prime every year.
The same's to be said for Arrington. It's a problem that all journalism has: the facts and what's popular usually don't mix.
Free Kindle -> eBay/Craigslist -> cheaper iPad
For a book-delivery platform like the Kindle, this strikes me as a natural model -- a user is likely to buy a large number of books over his lifetime, and the margin of profit on a $10 e-book makes the margin of profit on a music CD look humble.
There's also the point that the Kindle is not an obviously useful sort of device. Making it widely available will overcome customer reluctance to try it out it, ensuring that it either proves its worth and spreads quickly, or proves its worthlessness and fails quickly, and minimizes the amount of time that Amazon spends in new-product limbo either way.
I guess their strategy must be more like Microsoft's: establish market power early and milk it for the big bux0rz later.
This would be a good move by Amazon. The only way they are going to keep the iPad as the 2nd place e-reader is to either give away the kindle or at least drop the price to $99. Then when they release their color touch screen kindle they could charge $199 while still giving away the older model.
Edit: also, why the pic of the old Kindle? Are they giving away leftovers of the first edition?
I buy books for a few hours of enjoyment. After I've read them, they just sit on a shelf and collect dust. Because most people are like this, the Kindle is not a poor value proposition. Even if you were only allowed to read the book exactly once, it would still be a better value (in terms of hours of time spent per dollar spent) than many things, like seeing a movie.
Everyone hates DRM, but everyone knows that DRM only lasts a few years for a given industry. Eventually the publishers realize that DRM is being used to lock them into a distributor, and they hate that more than "piracy". It happened with music, and it's starting to happen to books.
When people start getting arrested for sharing books with their lovers, then you can link to "The Right To Read" and say "I told you so". In the mean time, consider DRM as a bootstrap that will eventually go away.
Fixed that for you.
As an avid library goer, I'm tempted by the Kindle, but I don't actually want one. I get 95% of my books from the library, so for people like me, a Kindle is just a way to spend money more easily and more often.
That's not even close to true. The actual case is just that the costs of library books are (almost) completely externalized.
Sorry, it was too easy.