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Bibliophiles who have straddled the fence over buying an (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) Kindle now have a $40 incentive to give the electronic book reader a shot. The online retailer is slashing the price of its proprietary device from $299 to $259. Amazon is also rolling out a $279 international version, with access to digital downloads in 100 countries and territories.

This is about to become a competitive market, so it's refreshing to see Amazon attack the upcoming holiday shopping season proactively. Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) is hitting the market with a $399 e-book reader that raises the bar with a touchscreen. It's also virtually official that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) will grace the market with a tablet sooner rather than later.

This is the third price cut for Kindle since its introduction less than two years ago. The problem with the serial slashing is that consumers quickly learn to wait. If we go by the Kindle's price-point history -- $399, $359, $299, and now $259 -- patient watchers may just wait to see whether they can pick up a $199 Kindle next year.

Amazon's still waiting for the killer app that makes its Kindle readers indispensable. Hardcovers and paperbacks discounted in digital form are neat, but are they enough to justify the initial investment for avid readers?

The real catalyst could be whether newspapers begin scaling back their print circulation, as Kindle already has digital newspaper deals in place with daily media giants including New York Times (NYSE: NYT  ) , Washington Post (NYSE: WPO  ) , and News Corp. (NYSE: NWS  ) . Even then, Amazon will still have to set its Kindle apart, because no newspaper company is going to settle for e-reader exclusivity.

In any event, daily papers aren't enough to justify the ideal catalyst: newspaper companies that offer fully subsidized Kindles in exchange for long-term subscriptions. Even an aggressive "book of the month" concept would have to lock a publisher into a multiyear commitment to pay off. However, as Kindle prices get cheaper, the subsidized math will get easier to swallow.

If your local newspaper offered you a Kindle for $159 in exchange for a two-year subscription, would you bite? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Apple and are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.   

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a Kindle owner since last year. He owns no shares in any of the companies in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 07, 2009, at 11:29 AM, pondee619 wrote:

    Lets see: you can buy Dan Brown's book, the lost symbol, @ amazon for $16/17. You can down load that same book on your Kindle for $9.99 ($10.00) after you spend $259 for the kindle.259 divided by the 6 dollar savings on the book is 43 books +/- to break even. How many people will break/lose their Kindle before breaking even? for the ten bucks you can't give the read book to a friend. always liked the book swap rack at the Surf Club in Aruba for some different reading.

  • Report this Comment On October 07, 2009, at 12:06 PM, Richard233 wrote:

    I don't really care for electronic books. You can't loan, borrow, share, or trade them (legally). I also find the prices on the downloads to be a bit too high given that the publisher does not need to print/transport/store the books, nor do they have to share the same amount of money with book resellers.

    I see a use for the Kindle and its ilk, and that's for the

    ability to store many reference books. Then again, if I have web access I don't exactly need the local copy do I? Also, I can likely buy a full fledged laptop for just a bit more and have a lot more functionality.

    Pass for now.

  • Report this Comment On October 07, 2009, at 12:55 PM, booksontape wrote:

    I would rush to buy this if it came with a web browser. It already can connect and download, so why not?

  • Report this Comment On October 07, 2009, at 6:32 PM, dhanley15 wrote:

    I don't understand why no one is talking about the e-reader apps available for free on the Iphone. You can download this app and then buy digital books that go to the Iphone, and not have to pay anything for the Kindle. There is also a Kindle app that is free.

  • Report this Comment On October 07, 2009, at 11:06 PM, tbird619 wrote:

    As a teacher I look forward to the day when my students can shed their bulky and heavy backpacks and carry only an ebook reader instead of a stack of expensive textbooks. The kindle seems to be the closest thing right now to bringing that day. The publishers are going to have to figure out a way to work with this concept. They are already going to great lengths to keep the students from trading in and buying used text books. Like newspapers, printed textbooks are on their way out. One Kindle costs about as much as two textbooks. As for the price of a downloaded book, compare it to the cost of a music CD. The authors have to make a buck somehow.

  • Report this Comment On October 08, 2009, at 11:58 AM, pipebender wrote:

    I don't know. A lot of times for a total of around $5, one of Amazon's market place seller would send a printed out version of the same book found on Kindle, to your door, with better user interface and readability then Kindle. Sounds pretty good to me. Oh that's called a used book btw. Either way wins.

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