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U.K. Customers Are Getting Free Kindles. Will the U.S. Get Them, Too?

free kindleTwo weeks ago, the Amazon announced that the Kindle would be sold in AT&T stores; it's already available at Best Buy, Staples and Target here in the U.S. Now the e-reader device will be popping up in Best Buy and Carphone Warehouse locations across the U.K.

Both retailers will be offering the e-reader with an interesting twist: In addition to being able to purchase a Kindle at the regular price, the Wi-Fi only version will be offered for free when customers sign up for two years of mobile phone service with select handsets. Customers can even upgrade to the 3G Kindle for a lowly £15 (about $24).

Free Kindles aren't a complete shock to everyone, though. There has been speculation that the company would start offering the e-reading devices for free, perhaps to Prime subscribers, subsidized by sales of e-books. Although the Kindle is still the leading e-reading device, it faces increased competition from the Nook, Sony Readers and tablets like the iPad. Offering the Kindle for free would not only prove almost irresistible to consumers and strengthen its position as the most popular e-reader, but could also be used to attract consumers to other Amazon services. The $80-per-year Prime subscription, which already includes free two-day shipping and unlimited streaming movies, could go from compelling to must-have, if it also included a free Kindle.

Tags: amazon, best buy, BestBuy, Carphone Warehouse, CarphoneWarehouse, e-readers, ereaders, kindle, top