Two new Kindles: why e-readers just got easier to buy

Amazon announces two new Kindle models, both offering lower prices and new features.
The Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi e-book reader is shown in this July 28 photo. The Kindle DX and Kindle 2 are now joined by two new Kindle models.

If you were on the fence about buying an e-reader, the latest news from Amazon may be enough to knock you off. Today, the company announced two new additions to the Kindle family: the "new" Kindle and Kindle Wi-Fi. Both come with dramatic price reductions and advanced features not found in the older models.

According to the Amazon Kindle Blog, “the all-new Kindle has a new electronic-ink screen with 50 percent better contrast than any other e-reader, a new sleek design with a 21 percent smaller body while still keeping the same 6-inch-size reading area, and a 15 percent lighter weight at just 8.7 ounces. The new Kindle also offers 20 percent faster page turns, up to one month of battery life, double the storage to 3,500 books, built-in Wi-Fi, a graphite color option and more.”

And for what price, you ask? Only $189, and that includes free 3G coverage without monthly bills or contracts. That’s slightly less than the Barnes & Noble Nook, which sells for $199 and includes a wi-fi connection.

Amazon also announced a wi-fi only Kindle to compete with its counterpart. The Wi-Fi Nook retails for $149, where as the Kindle Wi-Fi goes for $139. Tack on all the bells and whistles of the new generation Kindle and Amazon has created a great competitor for the Nook, which has recently seen an increase in the e-reader market share. (According to Digitimes “the Nook accounted for 53% of e-book readers shipped to US vendors” in March.)

Even with the rise of the tablet PC, e-readers will continue to attract audiences that cannot afford the higher price tags associated with items like Apple’s iPad. Also, most insiders are expecting more touch screen type e-reader devices to break into the market by the end of 2010, which could help some common usability issues. If Amazon and Barnes & Noble could figure out how to break into the university textbook market, we could see an explosion in the use of e-readers.

Kindle’s announcement is surely the first of many this year as the e-reader platforms figure how to survive next to a big competitor like the Apple iPad.

Kevin Curley is a senior web marketing associate at the Monitor.

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