Interesting, inevitable: buy the content and get the e-reader for free

I spotted this little nugget yesterday:

Barnes & Noble said Monday that it will offer discounts on its Nook devices to customers who buy a digital subscription to People magazine and The New York Times.

For New York Times subscribers, it’ll offer a free Nook Simple Touch, a 6-inch e-reader that is priced at $99, or take $100 off on Nook Color, normally priced at $199.

It won’t be the last time an e-reader comes bundled with a digital subscription, especially as the devices are getting cheaper and cheaper. Tablets will inevitably follow – the Nook Color mentioned above is similar to the Kindle Fire tablet. I’m surprised Amazon isn’t giving free devices to its Amazon Prime members already.

The business model already exists: if you subscribe to cable or satellite TV, you essentially get the hardware for free; many mobile phones are free on contract, and so on. It isn’t hard to imagine somebody such as News International giving away a “free” Kindle Fire if you subscribe to the full-fat version of its digital service.