updated 06:30 pm EST, Sun November 18, 2007
NewsWeek today provided the first look at the Amazon Kindle (link to be active soon), the company's first eBook reader and self-made electronics of any kind. As suggested by numerous leaks, the reader is designed as the first eBook reader to be in constant contact with the Internet. A new network service, dubbed Whispernet, will let the device reach a new Amazon eBook store to buy books as well as subscribe to digital versions of the New York Times and other newspapers as well as magazines; unlike past readers, this will be accessible not just from a local hotspot over Wi-Fi but a special connection through Sprint's EVDO cellular access in the US. This will let readers keep track of the latest books even on vacation and is intended by Amazon to be the "iPod of reading," according to NewsWeek.
The Kindle is designed to approach the thickness and size of slimmer paperback novels with a 6-inch "digital paper" screen and includes a keyboard for users to both search a book or the Amazon store, add notes to books, or visit websites both independently or linked from within content. Text and audiobooks are stored on built-in flash memory that holds about 200 titles and is expandable with an unspecified removable memory card format. The nature of the display, which only draws power when updating pages, allows it to work for up to 30 hours on a small battery and charge in less than two hours.
Amazon says it is already shipping the Kindle and will make the reader available this week for a price of $399. It should be accompanied on launch by about 88,000 books as well as subscription publications; new books and bestsellers will be offered for $10 each but can reach as low as $2 for classics and other back catalog titles, the company notes. Magazine and newspaper rates are unknown but are expected to equal or undercut traditional paper copies in price. No indication has been given of the cost of Whispernet access or of operating system support for directly transferring content from a computer.