Amazon Rolls Out New Wireless Reading Device

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, has unveiled a new wireless, electronic reading device: the Kindle.

Retailing for $399, the Kindle is smaller, thinner and lighter than a hardcover book, and weighs about 10 ounces.

It can hold up to 200 books, download new books wirelessly, and even highlight a user's favorite passages.

Despite some questions about his new product's design and appeal, Bezos says the Kindle is a marriage of modern technology and good old-fashioned book sense.

"We were never going to out-book the book. ... But then we also wanted to go beyond the book, and do things that advanced technology can do, like have wirelessness, so that you can wake up in the morning and have your newspapers waiting for you on the device," Bezos tells Michele Norris.

Bezos says the Kindle uses a new kind of display called "electronic ink," which he says is "paper-like" and not backlit.

"There's no eye strain; there literally are little molecules of ink that the display rearranges and flips over, and then once you've done that, [this display technology] doesn't consume any battery power," he explains.

Bezos acknowledges that there is a "long history of failed reading devices."

But he believes several factors make the Kindle different from competitors. In addition to the new display technology, Bezos says the Kindle is "the only reader to ever seamlessly incorporate wireless." Purchases can be made directly from the device; no PC is needed.

Also, Bezos notes the competitive pricing of book downloads: New releases cost $9.99, compared with $25 or more for physical books.

Amazon spent three years working on the new device. And Bezos says the company is in no hurry to recoup the costs.

"One of the things we're very proud of — [it's] is a piece of our culture at Amazon — is that we are willing to be patient and work on things for many years before we see a financial return," he says.

Related NPR Stories

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.