Amazon's Kindle DX promises to save the print media, but can the industry afford $500?

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At 9:30 this morning at Pace University, in the New York Times' former headquarters, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced the Kindle reader we've been waiting for.

No. Really. It's pretty sweet.

• 9.7-inch E-Ink screen (1200 x 824 with 16 shades of gray)

• 1/3 of an inch thick (10.4" x 7.2" x 0.38")

• 4GB Storage for 3,500 books (a bump from 1,500)

• Unspecified but "long" battery life

• Native PDF support through built-in reader

• Automatic landscape/portrait text rotation

• Navigation buttons moved to right side of screen only

• EVDO (of course) for 60-second book transfers

You may know it as the Kindle DX moment - the time when print publishing as we know it may have changed for good, though you'll have to wait for a summer release date to find out for yourself.

The always-fun Gizmodo crew liveblogged the event.

What's the big deal about a new $489 Kindle, anyway? It's literally in the word "big." The real highlight is that this is a reader made for the print media industry.

In fact, the New York Times was on hand to help make the announcement, according to PC World:

The Times, in an oddly vague sentence about itself, notes that it is "expected to be involved in the introduction of the device." Some rumors suggest the paper's current Kindle subscription fee of $13.99 a month will drop down to $9.99 a month on the new device. A number of other publishers are thought to be on-board as well.


The current Kindle 2 (left)

Why is the Gray Lady all geeked up over a new Kindle? If the speculation is right, the DX will have a 9.7-inch screen, up from the current Kindle 2's 6-inch model. You can read the Times on the current Kindle in a type-heavy format that looks fine.

But the extra space allows for the display of other content - including advertising - to play out in crystal clear grayscale glory. And, of course, the now built-in PDF support and 3G speed make downloading just about anything a publication would deliver a snap.

There's been a groundswell of belief that a wireless Internet-enabled device like the Kindle could be the solution to expensive print media production and delivery paradigm's, but issues with truncated content delivery among others made those strategies somewhat premature in nature. But with a larger screen and more publication-like size, another sizable step in e-delivery has been taken for at least some print outlets.

This summer the Times, along with the embattled Boston Globe and the Washington Post will play Guinea pig for the DX as the industry watches to see how it works and what the public thinks.

But it doesn't stop with the Fourth Estate. Can you imagine every college textbook in production, for instance, being available on a book-sized tablet that can receive instant updates wirelessly and offers a nearly limitless library of education materials? Well, you're not alone, as is evidenced by the location of the announcement and the involvement of Case Western Reserve University's president, Barbara Snyder, to help Bezos chat about his new toy. Case is just one of a few schools that will take part in a textbook Kindle DX test program, which also includes Pace, Princeton, Reed, Darden School at the University of Virginia, and Arizona State.

Of course we're still some time away from having this technology available to the masses, which would make it a true solution to many modern print industry problems. But still, it's an undeniable step forward.

Of course this comes just 3 months after the introduction of the Kindle 2, an updated version of the original that sells for $359. It's one thing to be screwed over as a bleeding-edge liver, but this might be hard to swallow for a bunch of people who probably think they got swindled buying an update that lasted less time than summer vacation.

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    This page contains a single entry by Craig Newman published on May 5, 2009 10:55 PM.

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