Amazon's Kindle aims for ebook market

Amazon's Kindle aims for ebook market

Company formally unveils new ebook reader

Amazon has unveiled a new handheld device to wirelessly download and read books, magazines, and blogs.

Dubbed 'Kindle,' the device usaes wireless to allow users to download content from Amazon directly. The $399 reader weighs in at 10.3 ounces and features a 6-inch screen.

Users can purchase content via Amazon's 'Whispernet' EVDO network. The devices will connect to the Kindle Store service - where books, magazines, and podcasts can be purchased and downloaded to the device.

The Kindle Store uses a combination of purchase and subscription models.

Books will be charged as a one-time fee, with best sellers and new releases costing $9.99. Magazines and newspapers will require a monthly subscription fee which will vary according to the publication.

Users can also subscribe to Amazon-appproved blogs at a cost of $1 per month.

Kindle enters an ebook market that has yet to take off with customers in the way that digital music and video has. The device's main competition will come from the Sony Reader.

Analysts say that if Kindle is successful, a new consumer market for ebooks could arise.

"Bottom line, Amazon has a real chance to take eBooks where they haven't gone before. Out of the enthusiast market and into mainstream audiences," wrote Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director at Jupiter Research.

However, a price drop may be necessary to expand Kindle's reach, Gartenberg suggested.

"First devices will likely appeal mostly to road warriors who like to read and hate to carry paper," he wrote.

"As prices come down, we'll see more mass market adoption."

NPD Group director of industry analysis Ross Rubin said that the Kindle Store's direct connection to the device could be what finally takes eBooks mainstream.

Unlike digital music or video players, where users will often import content already stored on their PC's or in CD collections, ebook readers rely entirely on what the user buys online.

"This is a product that at least until now has not resonated with hardcore bibliophiles. Some of that may have been that the reader required a PC to purchase content," Rubin said.

"[Wireless purchasing] is key in a product category that is so dependant on purchased content."