Oprah's endorsement: a coup for Kindle

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It's a retailer's dream come true. On her show today, Oprah Winfrey endorsed the Kindle, Amazon.com's electronic reader, proclaiming it her "favorite new gadget." (And just in time for Christmas, too.)

Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos joined Oprah on her show.

At $359, the Kindle is not cheap, which Oprah acknowledged, saying, "I know it's expensive in these times, but it's not frivolous because it will pay for itself. The books are much cheaper, and you're saving paper."

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On Kindle, books can be ordered directly from Amazon and most titles cost $9.99 or less.

The Oprah endorsement could give the Kindle a boost over competitor the Sony Reader. The Kindle is already $40 cheaper and has the advantage of allowing readers to order books directly. The Sony Reader must be plugged into a PC in order to access new titles.

But some readers prefer what they say is the more elegant design of the Sony product.

The real question to be answered, however, may simply be a matter of price. Even with the Oprah endorsement, is $359 still simply too high for mass market consumption?

Perhaps Christmas sales totals will give us the answer.

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