In what could signal the start of a technology-fueled turnaround for the failing newspaper industry, Amazon today unveiled a larger version of its popular Kindle-brand e-book tablet.
Confirming rumors that have been circulating all week, the Seattle-based e-retail leader is adding the so-called “Kindle DX” (pictured below) to its family of wireless devices. The Kindle DX costs $489.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com’s (News - Alert) founder and chief executive officer, personal and professional documents look so good on the larger Kindle DX display that users will find themselves “changing ink-toner cartridges less often.”
“Cookbooks, computer books, and textbooks – anything highly formatted – also shine on the Kindle DX,” Bezos said. “Carry all your documents and your whole library in one slender package.”
It’s not quite a broadsheet, but Kindle DX’s display has 2.5 times the surface area of the Kindle’s 6-inch display. The display has 16 shades of gray, more area for graphic-rich content – such as professional and personal documents, newspapers and magazines, and textbooks – and, Amazon says, its content reads like printed words on paper because the screen works using real ink and doesn’t use a backlight.
As TMCnet reported, much of the hype surrounding the larger-size Kindle is that it may bolster the flagging newspaper industry, long hamstrung by a loss of ad revenue to the Internet.
The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post are launching pilots with Kindle DX this summer, offering the device at a reduced price to readers who live in areas where home-delivery is not available and who sign up for a long-term subscription to the Kindle edition of the newspapers.
(The offer comes as The Boston Globe, New England’s largest paper, narrowly avoids a shut-down, and federal officials reject the idea of a Big Three-like bailout of the industry).
Soldiering on, New York Times Company Chairman and Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. said his group is “always seeking new ways for our millions of readers to have full and continuing access to our high-quality news and information.”
“The wireless delivery and new value-added features of the Kindle DX will provide our large, loyal audience, no matter where they live, with an exciting new way to interact with The New York Times and The Boston Globe,” he said.
The 3.3 GB device can hold up to 3,500 books, compared with 1,500 with Kindle. It also has large 9.7-inch electronic paper display, built-in PDF reader and auto-rotate capability.
Kindle DX is just over a third of an inch thin – “which is thinner than most magazines,” Amazon says – and syncs with the “Kindle for iPhone (News - Alert)” app and other Kindle-compatible devices.
The Kindle Store itself now holds more than 275,000 books (not nearly as many as the half-million offered on the Sony Reader). In addition to newspapers, BusinessWeek and The New England Journal of Medicine are available in the Kindle Store starting today, and The Economist will be available soon, Amazon says.
“Subscriptions are auto-delivered wirelessly to Kindle overnight so that the latest edition is waiting for customers when they wake up,” the company says. “Over 1,500 blogs are available on Kindle and updated and downloaded wirelessly throughout the day.”
That sounds pretty cool. We’ll have to wait and see whether the device sells at its $489 or sits on shelves the way those “Legends Suite” seats at the new Yankee Stadium remained empty until the team lowered their prices.
Amazon appears to be doing all it can to market the device. It’s brought in a bunch of textbook publishers and plans to launch trial programs to make the Kindle DX available at a bunch of universities, too, such as: Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University, Princeton University, Reed College, and Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.
Those schools will distribute hundreds of Kindle DX devices to students spread across a broad range of academic disciplines.
And it sounds like the device is very student-friendly.
Reading aside, they’ll be able to take notes and highlight, search across their library, look up words in a built-in dictionary, and carry all of their books in a lightweight device.
“The Kindle DX holds enormous potential to influence the way students learn,” said Barbara R. Snyder, president of Case Western Reserve University. “We look forward to seeing how the device affects the participation of both students and faculty in the educational experience.”
Other features include a built-in 250,000 word New Oxford American Dictionary; six text sizes; ability to add bookmarks, notes, and highlights; text-to-speech technology that converts words on a page to spoken word; Web searches and plug-and-play readiness.
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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan