Kindle 2 rumors closing in on reality

February 7, 2009

The Kindle 2 rumors appear to be getting much warmer as the anticipated release date approaches. New photos and descriptions surfaced yesterday.

The new Amazon electronic book is almost certainly set to be announced on Monday. Likewise, it is almost certain to carry the same price tag as the original: $359. This is despite numerous improvements in the newer model. There were a number of shortfalls in the design of the original, in the minds of many people, which will not be present in the newer model. Even with these problems, Amazon could not keep the Kindle in stock. The newer model, if it lives up to expectations, could be a runaway best seller for Amazon.

The “spy” photographs show a much sleeker book reader, with pleasing lines and a clearly more thoughtful design. The new model would appear to be very thin, perhaps as thin as a cell phone, certainly no thicker than a MacBook Air. It would appear to have about 80 percent of the surface area of a typical conventional hardback book, with the actual reading surface about 60 percent of the total available space.

The keyboard at the bottom has been retained and the new unit features flush last page, next page, home and end controls at the edges of the reading area. It looks both much easier to handle and much easier to use. It is hard to tell from the photos whether the “feel” of the device is better than the original, which was too slick and plastic-feeling for many. As an overall package, the Kindle seems much improved, judging from the leaked photos.

The convenience and capacity of electronic books make them very popular with early adopters of technology, though many other readers cite the comforting and familiar feel of a conventional book as a reason not to make the switch. It seems somewhat barbaric to keep cutting down trees to produce books, which are often read once and then relegated to a shelf. If the new Kindle gets the “feel” right, it may be able to gain many new converts to the side of the electronic book.

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