Yeah I wish I had a better solution. When I had the ads downloaded, I did manage to replace the ads with my own images, but that only worked once when I put the kindle in standby. After that it popped up the message about needing to connect to the internet to download the ads even though all of the folders were technically there. There must be some code that checks the created/modified date of the image files or something...it looked really cool that one time it worked though.
I'm honestly not much of a book reader. The only types of books I read regularly are reference books when I can't find an answer online (which is rare). I got this Kindle so that I could make a conscious effort to read more for entertainment. I've been using my DROID and that just hurts my eyes after a while (my DROID is a good example of getting something cheaper because it was outdated by the DROID 2).
I called the store to see if I could exchange this for the $139 version and they're all sold out of the $139 version now. Go figure.
Hopefully they'll allow me to pay to upgrade out of the ads via amazon, but I'll honestly only do that if they allow users to use their own images for the "screensaver". Otherwise, it's no different than how I'm using it now. I can't see myself really using whisperNet when I have my DROID available. Maybe if I really get into reading and start actually buying books. Right now I'm starting with the classics (Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde...etc etc). The creepiness of the dead authors is actually more up my alley than Oil of Olay.