updated 10:45 pm EDT, Mon May 4, 2009
Following a leak on Monday, a new report confirms that Amazon.com unveil a new larger-screen version of its Kindle e-book reader with an improved web-browser later this week at an abruptly announced press conference for May 6th, while Engadget has posted new alleged photos and specs of the new device, claiming that it has an 9.7-inch display -- compared with the current 6-inch screen -- along with a built-in PDF reader the ability to add annotations in addition to notes and highlights.
Citing sources familiar with the project, The Wall Street Journal claims that the new newspaper-friendly version of the Kindle will also deliver features for periodical and academic textbook publishers. Engadget reports that the New York Times will be offering a $9.95 / month subscription (compared with the current $13.99/mo rate).
According to the WSJ report, Amazon along with Universities will conduct studies to further understand whether student experiences will differ while using the device in various academic environments.
According to the report, some students at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland will be given large-screen Kindles with pre-installed textbooks for chemistry, computer science and a freshman seminars and the university plans to compare the experiences of students who get the Kindles and those who use traditional textbooks.
"Amazon has worked out a deal with several textbook publishers to make their materials available for the device," the school's chief information officer told the publication.
In addition, the device will also feature a more fully functional Web browser -- upgraded from the "experimental" browser that shipped with the recently updated Kindle in February. (Last week the company also updated its Personal Document Service with new features.)
The report notes that five other universities are involved in the Kindle project, including Pace, Princeton, Reed, Darden School at the University of Virginia, and Arizona State; however, Amazon declined to comment.
Because Amazon controls the experience and the kindle doesn't display graphics well (including advertising), major international publishers are already spreading their bets, accessing a rival e-book reader from Sony -- which unlike Kindle is not tied to any specific download service.
The WSJ report confirms that Hearst Corp. is investing in a start-up that's developing an e-reading device: some rumors already indicate that Foxconn Electronics, the manufacturer of Amazon's Kindle e-book reader, may be planning to develop its own e-book reader. In addition, News Corp., owner of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co., is mulling a possible investment in a Kindle competitor, while Plastic Logic Ltd. has also said that it will conduct a trial launch of its 8.5x11-inch reading device this summer with the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News--both of which recently stopped delivery of their print versions most days of the week. Barnes & Noble is also rumored to be working on its own eBook reader.
Photos courtesy of Engadget