Frequent online book purchasers: Amazon has a proposition for you. If you purchase an Amazon Kindle in the next five days, you can get it, try it and potentially keep it for free.

If that offer sounds too good to be true, there’s one thing to keep in mind — Amazon’s one time offer ends just one day before the Apple Tablet drops.

Competition is heating up in the e-reader market. And when Apple releases the Tablet on January 27, the market will look a whole lot different. Amazon has already announced that it will open up the Kindle e-reader to third party
developers
, allowing applications to run on the device. This offer looks like another way that Amazon can get people excited about their product.

It might not be enough to stave off competition from Apple, but Amazon is definitely serious about getting people using their device. While this limited time offer is only available to select Amazon customers for the next five days, it is pitched at exactly the consumer segment that Amazon wants to capture — heavy readers and Amazon customers. TechCrunch notes that one person given the option has been ordering a few books per month since 1997, while another has only ordered about 20 books in the last three years.

That’s not to say that it will be easy for them to get a free Kindle.

To get the refund, customers have to call and personally speak to an Amazon customer service rep. And it’s still
unclear if there are any catches. Will Amazon give up the refund easily? Furthermore, will the owner still be able purchase new books on the device if he or she doesn’t “love the Kindle”?

That’s the key here. The idea is that few people will actually return the device. But
even if they ask for their money back, Amazon still stands to profit. Amazon makes money off of these handsets, but the company also gets revenue every time an online book is purchased. And in the longterm, Amazon wants to make sure that e-book readers are using its products and downloading its books.

While high volume readers are exactly the clientele that Amazon hopes will purchase their e-reader, it also makes sense to get the device in their hands in any way possible so that going forward they remain loyal to the Amazon brand.
With Apple set to launch its tablet in the new few days, Amazon wants to make sure that frequent book readers are in its corner. If that means the company has to give away a few Kindles, that’s a whole lot better than simply conceding the reader market to Apple a few months from now — not that an offer like this provides any guarantee that that won’t happen anyway.