NEW YORK-Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos launched a new Kindle eReader device, the Kindle DX, during a May 6 presentation at Pace University’s Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, a building constructed on the site of the 19th-century headquarters of The New York Times.
That particular detail turned out to be especially notable given that Amazon has signed a deal with The New York Times and two other newspapers, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, to distribute a lower-cost version of the Kindle DX to users who sign up for long-term subscriptions.
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of The New York Times Company, was present at the event and cited the Kindle’s potential to help with the “convergence between print and digital.” He mentioned that his company’s deal with Amazon was a sign of the former’s “commitment to reinvention” as newspapers nationwide steadily lose their traditional readership.
The Kindle DX features a larger screen, at 9.7 inches, than the 6-inch Kindle 2 that made its debut in February 2009. As with the previous iteration, the Kindle DX’s display is 16-shade grayscale; the new device, however, comes with auto-rotation-tilt it sideways and the displayed page pivots from vertically to horizontally oriented. The five-way controller is still in place from the Kindle 2.
Once it rolls out on an undisclosed date this summer, the Kindle DX will retail for $489, versus $359 for the Kindle 2. Bezos said during the presentation that Kindle sales now accounted for 35 percent of book sales on Amazon.com.
In addition to the larger display, the Kindle DX will have 3G wireless access, opening access to Amazon’s 275,000 e-book library. The 3.3GB of storage can hold approximately 3,500 books, and the active PDF support means that enterprise documents will display on the screen without the need to pan, zoom or scroll.
“Paperless society never came; we print more paper now than we ever did before,” Bezos said at the beginning of his presentation. “Why do we print so much? Because computer displays are a worse display device than paper.”
The Kindle DX, he continued, overcomes that issue with a “big display.” He then proceeded to demonstrate the versatility of a large-screened eReader, showing how the Kindle DX more completely displays everything from legal and business documents to ship navigation charts.
In addition to signing deals with major newspapers, Amazon also announced that three of the top five textbook publishers-Cengage Learning, Pearson, and Wiley-and more than 75 University press publishers would be making their products available to the Kindle Store starting in autumn 2009. Such a move, Bezos claimed, would make some 60 percent of textbooks available through the device.
Five universities, including Arizona State University, Princeton University and the University of Virginia, will test-pilot the device on campuses in the fall. The schools will distribute the Kindle DX for students to test. As with its previous iterations, the Kindle DX allows the user to take notes, highlight text, and look up the definitions of words.
In February, Bezos debuted the Kindle 2 electronic reader at the Morgan Library and Museum, with best-selling author Stephen King making an appearance to read from the device.
“Our vision is every book ever printed in any language in under 60 seconds,” Bezos said at the time, demonstrating his long-term vision for the project.