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Amazon Debuts Kindle, the iPod of Books

On the cover of this week's Newsweek (opens in new tab) is Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, holding what some might consider as Amazon's future, the Kindle, which is an eBook reader.

Dubbed (opens in new tab) by some as the iPod of books, the device sports a monochrome 6-inch screen and a minuscule keyboard.

The Kindle will use a proprietary network service, working through Sprint's EVDO network, to remain connected permanently.

The Kindle (opens in new tab) is about the size of a slim paperback novel and will allow users to search for a book on Amazon's website through its keyboard.

The device comes with built-in flash memory - with a capacity of roughly 200 titles - as well as a memory card reader to increase the capacity to several thousands.

A beta tester mentions that the screen, a crucial part of the whole e-book experience, is far better than a mainstream PDA or a LCD for example thanks to advances in Electronic Ink technology.

e-Ink also consumes less power as the screen only switches on when pages are "turned" and then switches off while the user reads, giving the e-book a 30 hour reading capacity on one charge with a 2 hour recharge time.

The Kindle will cost USD 399 with an initial library of 80,000 titles. Bestsellers and new books will start at USD 10 with classics and other less known books selling as low as USD 2.

There are a number of unknown including whether the service is protected by a DRM (Digital Rights Management) solution and whether the screen will be a touchscreen version.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.