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Amazon launches new Kindle reader

By Iain Mackenzie
Newsbeat US reporter

 Online retailer Amazon has launched the new version of its electronic book reader, Kindle.

Kindle 2 is thinner, slightly lighter and has a longer battery life than the original version that went on sale in November 2007.

The company says its new model has seven times more memory, enabling it to hold up to 1,500 titles.

The increased storage capacity brings Kindle closer to the idea of being an iPod for books.

Amazon also announced plans to make all books available for download in electronic form.

Amazon Founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos said: “Our vision is every book, ever printed in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds.”

He revealed that, where a Kindle version of a book is available, it accounts for 10% of Amazon sales.

UK availability

However, there was no news from Amazon regarding Kindle availability outside the United States.

Steven Kessel, Amazon’s Senior Vice President of Digital Media at Amazon told BBC News: “We have lots of inbound requests from customers around the world.

“We have no announcements for them today, but we continue to get those requests.”

In the US, Kindle users can download e-books over the wireless 3G network, without paying data charges or monthly subscriptions.

Amazon insists that Kindle has proved highly popular during the 14 months that it has been available.

Devices sold out soon after the launch of Kindle 1 and again before Christmas 2008.

The company refuses to provide exact figures, however some analysts put the number sold at around 250,000.

The re-vamped Kindle 2 adds a five-way joypad for navigating around pages.

Battery life is said to be 25% better than the previous version, giving two weeks reading between charges.

Kindle 2’s display is upgraded from four shades of grey to 16, making pictures look more realistic.

Critics of Kindle point to its high price of $359 (£244), claiming it is an expensive luxury compared to the price of paper books.

E-book downloads are cheaper than their physical counterparts, with most best-sellers retailing for around $9.99 (£6.70).

Many new e-books are copy-protected using Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology.

Similar systems are used by music retailers, such as Apple’s iTunes, to prevent customers playing their songs on other manufacturers’ devices.

Amazon’s .AZW file format can currently only be viewed on Kindle devices.

Several other electronics companies have launched portable e-book readers, including the Sony and iRex.


Kindle rival Plastic Logic signs up content partners

February 9, 2009 1:04 PM PST
(Credit: Plastic Logic)

It’s a day for e-reader news. Along with’s Kindle 2 announcement, competitor Plastic Logic revealed the first partners to distribute content on its eReader when the device becomes commercially available sometime in 2010.

The partners include Ingram Digital, LibreDigital, and Zinio, which has more than 1,000 digital magazine titles currently in its stable. USA Today and the Financial Times have also signed on.

The eReader–which is designed to store dozens or hundreds of business documents on a very thin digital reader–is about the size of an 8.5 inch by 11 inch pad of paper and weighs less than most print magazines, according to Plastic Logic.

As the name of the company might suggest, it’s made with plastic, not glass, meaning that it is designed to be strong and to be able to stand up to being hit with objects or, presumably, even dropped. Furthermore, the eReader is an open platform that allows content creators to offer their digital content in their own way.

As my colleague Erica Ogg points out, price remains a looming question.

Together with the release of the eReader, Plastic Logic will also launch a content store where users can download digital content from newspapers, magazines, trade journals, blogs, e-books, and so on.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based start-up has been working with a wide range publishers and content creators to ensure a broad variety of content. The company’s first partnership in this matter is Fictionwise, an independent e-content retailer.

Plastic Logic plans to make its eReader available in trials and pilots in the second half of 2009, and expects to release the product commercially in 2010.

Dong Ngo is a CNET editor who covers networking and network storage, and writes about anything else he finds interesting. You can also listen to his podcast at E-mail Dong.

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