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Amazon unveils new Kindle DX in New York

May 6, 2009 |  9:41 am

Kindledx

If you thought the Kindle 2.0 was nice but too small, and have $489 you want to spend, then the just-announced Kindle DX is for you.

At a news conference today in New York, Jeff Bezos unveiled the next generation of the Kindle, which has an 8.5-by-11-inch screen. It's a significant size upgrade, as you can see from Amazon's comparison, above. The larger screen means less scrolling and zooming, but it's the only significant technological change from the Kindle 2.0, which was announced just 93 days ago.

The Kindle DX will be available this summer, although Amazon is taking pre-orders now.

A major development was telegraphed by the location of the news conference — Pace University in New York. Amazon has partnered with three major textbook publishers — Pearson, Cengage Learning and Wiley — that have 60% of the textbook market. Although the New York Times points out that this "pretty prominently" omits McGraw-Hill Education, Amazon is clearly moving to put the Kindle DX in college students' hands.

Engadget, which live-blogged the news conference, quoted Bezos as saying, "This is a dream to have textbooks on a device this small. Students with smaller backpacks, less load, easier access."

This fall, the Kindle DX will be tested by students at Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University, Princeton University, Reed College and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. At the news conference, Barbara R. Snyder, president of Case Western Reserve, said, "We look forward to seeing how the device affects the participation of both students and faculty in the educational experience.”

There are about 18 million students enrolled in college now, and providing a textbook-friendly ebook reader to them would seem to be a smart move. Is it one that Apple might also be making? In March, rumors flew that Apple might be working on a Kindle competitor. Could that be the reason Amazon announced the Kindle DX now, even though it won't be available for months?

Maybe the motive for the announcement was the new partnership with three newspapers — the New York Times, the Boston Globe and the Washington Post — that will provide Kindle DX discounts to long-term subscribers. Exactly how much, and exactly how long the Boston Globe will remain available, was not announced.

As a recent textbook-lugger, I can see the utility of having lots of books on one device, but I'm not sure a standalone Kindle is any better than a laptop. And you certainly can't write a paper on it. And I would worry that the nice, light, delicate Kindle DX would get crunched by one of the old-style books I was carrying around.

The bigger screen is lovely, but I'm not sure it's the perfect fit — it isn't right for newspapers, really. And it just makes me want something more: full color.

— Carolyn Kellogg

Image: Amazon.com

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