Amazon today unveiled the Kindle's big brother, a new e-reader that boasts a larger screen and features that are tuned for newspapers and textbooks.
Just a few months ago, CEO Jeff Bezos was onstage debuting the second edition of Amazon's main line of e-readers. But if the original Kindle competes with paperback novels, this new Kindle DX goes after 8.5-by-11-inch documents, which seemed a little cramped on the e-ink screen before.
“You never have to zoom, you never have to scroll, you just read the documents,” says Mr. Bezos, showing off the new 9.7-inch display. Turning the device on its side automatically triggers a horizontal display, designed for wide pages, images, and websites.
The DX comes with the same 3G wireless support that allows the older model to download books in seconds. And its larger hard drive – 3.3 gigabytes, compared with 2 gigabytes on the Kindle 2 – can hold up to 3,500 books or store PDF documents that are transferred via e-mail or a USB connection.
Kindles on campus
Many hoped that the original Kindle heralded a major shift in the college textbook market, with its hefty prices and heavier tomes. Little has changed in the past couple of years, but Bezos says that the DX has its sights set on campuses.
“We’re going to get students with smaller backpacks, less load,” he says. The company has signed deals with three major textbook publishers, which together represent about two-thirds of the market. Amazon even arranged for five universities to test out the new model. Students at Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University, Princeton University, the University of Virginia, and Reed College will receive trial copies of the DX.
The future of newspapers?
Today's announcement also included an interesting twist for newspapers.
"The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post will offer the Kindle DX 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," says Amazon's press release.
A e-book boom
Bezos admits that he still has a long way to go before fulfilling his dream of "every book ever printed in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds.” But Kindle has opened up a blossoming market for Amazon. The NYTimes notes that: "Today there are 275,000 books available for the device. On Amazon.com, 35 percent of sales of books that have a Kindle edition are sold in that format."
And yesterday the Monitor reported that "The Association of American Publishers (AAP), the industry’s primary trade group, has tracked digital book sales since 2003, when wholesale revenues amounted to $20 million. By 2007, that number had ambled up to $67 million. But in 2008, the figure nearly doubled to some $113 million. This year is off to an equally heady start, says Ed McCoyd, director of digital policy for AAP, pointing to the whopping 173 percent jump in sales from January 2008."