Amazon Introduces New Widescreen Kindle for Newspapers, Textbooks

Amazon Introduces New Widescreen Kindle for Newspapers, Textbooks

The flagging newspaper industry may receive an unexpected boost from the new widescreen Kindle, the e-book reader that sold an estimated 500,000 devices in 2008. Unlike its smaller predecessors, the bigger Kindle DX, with a 9.7” display (the original Kindle had a 6” display), is being touted as ideal for newspapers and textbooks. According to Forbes, this summer both The New York Times and The Washington Post will be offered to Kindle users at reduced rates to try to boost sales. Amazon has also created partnerships with textbook publishers such as Pearson, Cengage Learning, and John Wiley & Sons.

Of the upcoming partnership, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of The New York Times Company, said, “This experiment will combine the immediacy of the Web with the readability of the Kindle experience.”

Not everyone is as optimistic, however. Some publishers have voiced concerns about lack of control over pricing and the Amazon proprietary format. Others have suggested that Amazon should consider offering greater incentives for publishers to offer their content on the Kindle.

Moreover, the textbook industry isn’t limping to the extent that the newspaper industry is. And thrifty college students may not be enticed to shell out nearly $500 for a Kindle when they can purchase used textbooks for far less. Still, Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University, Princeton University, the University of Virginia, and Reed College all plan to test the Kindle on their campuses soon, says Forbes.

The issue of the Kindle’s price tag—and added fees for individual content—is perhaps the biggest obstacle to its adoption. Nonetheless, analysts have estimated that Amazon could see Kindle revenues in the $1.2 billion range by next year, which would put Kindle at four percent of Amazon’s overall revenue.

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