A bigger Kindle about to debut?

These days, when Amazon holds a press conference, publishers sit perched on the edge of their seats waiting to hear the news. But this time around, it's newspaper and magazine publishers who seem to have the most at stake.

Amazon has announced that it will be holding a press conference in New York this Wednesday. Rumor has it that the company will be announcing the launch of larger version of its Kindle e-reader, one designed to facilitate the reading of magazines and newspapers.

Some news organizations, including The New York Times, "are expected to be involved in the introduction of the device," according to the Times, although a spokesperson for the Times company declined to comment on the company’s relationship with Amazon.

The last time Amazon held a press conference in New York was in February, when it introduced the Kindle 2.0, a somewhat upgraded version of its popular Kindle e-reader.

The Kindle, according to the Times, has given "beleaguered book publishers a reason for optimism. Now the recession-ravaged newspaper and magazine industries are hoping for their own knight in shining digital armor, in the form of portable reading devices with big screens."

Not all the pundits agree that e-readers – at least not in their current state – have the power to stop the downward spiral of newspaper and magazine circulation. Any new version of the Kindle – particularly a larger one – is likely to cost more than the Kindle 2.0, which carries a price tag of $359.

Even if a new device were to provide a good reading service and an excellent delivery system, some industry commentators argue that so pricey an item would be too little too late to reverse the decline in readership.

Perhaps the more realistic way of looking at it is to say, as the Wall Street Journal's  Media Memo blog notes, that "if Kindle-like devices really do take off, they will be a natural platform for whatever version of the publishing industry survives."

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