Page last updated at 08:32 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 09:32 UK

Amazon unveils Kindle DX e-reader

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

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Rachel Metz said it could appeal to students, but Lauren Gale said she would not want to carry it around with her

Amazon has unveiled a new version of its Kindle e-reader, aimed at reading newspapers, magazines and documents.

The device is 250% bigger than the recently-announced Kindle 2 gadget.

"You never have to pan, you never have to zoom, you never have to scroll. You just read," Amazon's chief executive Jeff Bezos said at the New York launch.

The device has a built-in PDF document reader and the company announced deals with three leading textbook publishers to put their content on the reader.

Amazon announced deals with the New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe to put their editorial on the device.

Despite the excitement surrounding the release of the new Kindle electronic book reader, reaction has been mixed.

Even though the Kindle DX screen is over double the size of previous models, the main criticism is the higher asking price

At $489 (£340) the difference represents an increase of $130 (£87).

"There is an initial sticker shock over the price you have to pay just to get more stuff," Joshua Benton of Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab told the BBC.

VentureBeat's Anthony Ha also agreed that the cost of the new deluxe device is a drawback.

"I love to read and all, and I love newspapers, but there's no way I'm spending that kind of money just so I can see the New York Times on a big screen."

Other negatives about the new version of the Kindle included the fact it had 16 different colours of grey but no colour and no video capability.

"It isn't as revolutionary as its promoters might like us to think," said Alexandria Sage at Reuters Blogs.

Lance Ulanoff, editor of PCmag.com agreed, saying: "It's cool but lacks surprises. All Amazon did was announce a bunch of good and important upgrades."

"Paperless society"

Mr Bezos said the Kindle was "a step in the direction of a paperless society" and a new way to read newspapers.

But industry analysts do not believe it will save a business that has been battered by a faltering economy and falling readership.

Kindle 2
Kindle 2 allows users to download from a virtual book shop

"I can't see how an industry that's haemorrhaging money can subsidise a new-fangled tech product in order to lure people back to subscribing for something they are forced to publish for free online anyway," said Gizmodo's Wilson Rothman.

Taking part in the New York event were executives from the New York Times.

It, along with the Washington Post and the Boston Globe, will offer consumers a steep discount on the Kindle if they buy a long term subscription and there is no home delivery in their area.

"We knew for more than a decade that one day an e-reader would be a significant platform for distribution for our content," Arthur Sulzberger Jr, chairman of the New York Times told the audience of journalists and analysts.

But Mr Benton at Nieman Journalism Lab suggested the newspaper industry is fooling itself.

"I think a lot of folks in the newspaper industry think the Kindle is an opportunity to gain control over the channel in the way the web eliminated the benefit of owning a distribution network.

"The web is an open network and so I think there are some people who think this is a closed network and they can have a position of authority in it."

Mr Benton also said that as these devices improve and become more web enabled, newspapers will be back to square one.

"The Kindle is going to be a success when it becomes a really useful web surfing machine," he said.

"When that happens then the newspaper model of Kindle falls apart as people say 'Why pay for a subscription when you can go to NYTimes.com for free?'."

"Replacement"

Amazon has not revealed how many Kindles it has sold, but the publishing industry has said e-books account for less than 1% of all books sales.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on how e-reader Kindle 2 has adapted technology

What might surprise many is that during the New York event, Mr Bezos revealed that when a Kindle version of a book is available it makes up 35% of sales.

"If that's even close to accurate, it's hard to overstate the importance of it," said Henry Blodget of the Business Insider.

The new device can hold 3,500 books and has access to over 225,000 titles.

But Amazon is not the only business in the e-reader market. Sony is there and so too is the iPhone with a Kindle app (although that is only available in the US for now). Plastic Logic will unveil its version later in the year.

"The launch of the Kindle DX is further proof of the strength of the market for e-readers," said Neil Jones, the head of Interead, an English based company releasing Kindle-competitor in a few weeks.

"The fact is e-readers don't have many detractors left. Everyone agrees that people will continue to read books, and the time for an "iPod moment" for e-readers is now," Mr Jones told the BBC.

A trial of the new Kindle DX service will begin in the US this summer.



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