Buying a Computer to Save on More Computers

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The lowest-priced and most-maligned Kindle e-reader comes with ads. But if you time it right, you can buy one for $114 and save nearly twice that on something else. For me, it was a new Mac laptop.

Last weekend, I bought a Kindle from Amazon.com even though I already own a Kindle. Why did I make this redundant purchase? Because spending $114 on the Kindle saved me 20 percent on buying a new Apple MacBook Air – a savings of $200.

Let me explain, then tell you how to do the same.

The Kindle is the world’s best-selling e-reader, allowing you to buy books from Amazon and read them on either a 6-inch or 9.7-inch screen. Prices range from $139 to $379, depending on screen size and whether you want 3G access.

But the lowest-priced Kindle is called the “Kindle Special Offer.” For $114, you get a 6-inch Kindle with only a Wi-Fi connection. But the “KSO,” as it’s sometimes called in the bargain-shopping community, is also ad-supported. So like a website, you’ll see ads pop up on your e-reader.

Because the lowest-priced ad-free Kindle costs only $25 more, some folks have questioned why anyone would subject themselves to a lifetime of ads for what’s essentially the cost of dinner for two at a chain restaurant. But the KSO also comes with coupons – valuable ones.

The short history of the KSO suggests that one good coupon can more than make it worthwhile. In July 2011, for example, KSO users received 20 percent off of LCD TVs made by Samsung and Sony, among others. Some KSO buyers saved hundreds of dollars on their new TVs.

Deals on the KSO are available on a special screen accessed after you register the device. And they’re available for a limited time only. The Mac deal that made my Kindle purchase worthwhile ended on Aug. 8, and whether it or something similar will ever come back, no one knows.

For me, deciding to buy a KSO was a no-brainer because I needed a new Mac anyway. And as any Mac fan knows, getting 20 percent off of a Mac laptop is rare. I wasn’t alone in jumping on the deal. Many users on the online forum Slickdeals.net also cashed in this KSO coupon. This wasn’t the first significant special offer on the Kindle, either. And it likely won’t be the last.

Even if I didn’t make that big purchase, I still believe the KSO will more than pay for itself over time, even if I only make small purchases. For example, other recent deals included $5 off of a $10 Amazon purchase, $15 off of a $30 school-supply purchase, and $25 off of a $100 textbook order from Amazon.com.

So the KSO’s ads might be a benefit, not a curse.

If you’re now considering a KSO, my advice is to wait until Amazon offers a deal you are interested in. Websites like Slickdeals have threads dedicated to letting users know when new KSO offers come out. So you might want to start saving up $114 to save even more down the road.

Stacy Johnson

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