Amazon Kindle coming Monday: digital books takeaway

November 19, 2007

Kung Pao Kindle: Amazon's digital books takeaway E-books: they’re either the next big thing or the next to die out if you go by the numerous articles written about them. While the rest of us wait for a consensus from the tech pundits, Amazon is betting on their new e-book reader to capture dollars and make buying and reading e-books as easy as ordering a burger to go.

Amazon’s launching its device, called the Kindle, come Monday in New York and it’s expected to be priced at $399, according to CNET. Not exactly cheap for a machine to read e-books.

In a rather effusive interview with Newsweek, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos called books “the last bastion of analog”, going so far as to describe the Kindle as not a device, but a service. The Kindle has one feature similar devices don’t – wireless connectivity thanks to what Amazon calls its Whispernet system.

You can connect to the Web, download e-books through your e-mail, surf web pages, subscribe to digital editions of your favorite newspapers and of course, read e-books. Basically you no longer need a computer to buy or load your ebooks; just connect to the service, choose and pay for your book and you’re all set.

To help fire up book lovers’ enthusiasm for the Kindle, e-books are being priced at $9.99 per download. That might sound cheap to some but for regular e-book buyers (like yours truly) know that e-book prices can vary on the Web. $9.99 isn’t the cheapest amount you’d pay for an e-book though it isn’t necessarily a bad deal.

Besides blazing fast connections (thanks to EVDO data that will be provided by Sprint in the US), the Kindle comes with a 6-inch 800×600 display, 256MB internal storage, SC slot, thumb keyboard cursor bar with scroll wheel, mini-USB and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Not a bad feature list, but with the Sony Reader’s rather dismal sales numbers, can the Kindle fare much better? We’ll just have to see if taking the fast-food approach to e-book selling works.

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