Live from New York: Amazon's Kindle press conference

Summary:I'm live on the scene at Pace University in lower Manhattan for Amazon's rumored "large-format Kindle" press conference, set to begin at 10:30 EST.

11:07am: And that's all, folks! The $489 large-format Kindle DX is official. Keep checking ZDNet for our expert take on the announcement and what it means for the industry.

11:06am: Bezos: Kindle DX has 9.7 inch display with auto-rotate, 3G wireless access, 3.3GB storage (3,500 books), native PDF support (no pan, zoom scroll), NYT bestsellers and new releases are $9.99. PRICE: $489! Pre-order now, shipping summer 2009. amazon.com/kindleDX

11:04am: Textbook time. Shows off textbook, but diagrams are only black and white. New feature: you can decide "what the line length is" -- that is, you can make text narrower than the Kindle DX screen is, like a newspaper column

11:03am: There's a "summary approach" that shows summaries similar to search engine results: Headlines and first three lines of story

11:02am: Kindle DX has toggle switch like standard Kindle. Slow page refreshes painfully obvious; is this better than scrolling?

11:01am: Bezos loses the video feed entirely. Aborts the demo....video's back!

11:01am: Bezos: "I'm going to choose to find this hilarious." "I've never seen the New York Times backward before."

11:00am: The video people accidentally flip the live video feed, Bezos cracks "think of this as if you were looking into a mirror. Even in reverse, you can see how detailed it is." (laughter)

11:00am: Screen still takes awhile to refresh when turning page

10:59am: Bezos shows off sheet music -- nice!

10:58am: Bezos shows off office reports, federal filing documents

10:57am: After event there will be demo units!

10:56am: Sulzberger: "Thank you Amazon.com. Thank you Jeff for...making the Kindle DX such a compelling product." Sulzberger leaves stage, Bezos is back for a demo.

10:55am: Sulzberger: "We know that it will significantly help our ability to reach millions of readers. Kindle DX will be offered to readers where home delivery is not available"

10:54am: Sulzberger: "With the Washington Post, we feel we're in very good company." It's all about "using every available medium" to spread "high quality journalism"

10:53am: NYT chairman, publisher Arthur Sulzberger takes the stage.

10:52am: Bezos: This summer, three newspapers have agreed to pilot Kindle DX, offer it for a reduced price in exchange for long term sucscriptions: New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe (which is owned by NYT)

10:52am: Bezos retakes the stage. Bezos: "What about newspapers?" They've been "absolute best-seller" on Kindle.

10:49am: Case Western president Barbara Snyder takes the stage. Snyder: E-book tech may prove 'transformative' for students. "Our students will stand taller, too," because of no textbook weight

10:48am: "What about the students?" Bezos announces fall pilot of Kindle DX: Arizona State, Princeton, Reed, Case Western, Pace

10:47am: Shows chemistry, biology textbook (FYI: it's still monochrome -- not sure how that's going to work out with diagrams

10:47am: Textbooks. Bezos announces an agreement with 3 leading textbook publishers that together represent 60% of higher education textbooks: Pearson, Cengage Learning, Wiley

10:45am: Even with electronic paper you need a big display. Kindle DX! Display 2.5 times bigger than original kindle. Built-in PDF reader. You never have to zoom or scroll. Auto-rotate

10:44am: Bezos says printer cartridges "evil" despite selling lots of them via Amazon

10:44am: "The paperless society never came. In fact, we print more paper now than we ever did before."

10:43am: "Once you can bring your whole library with you, you start to wonder, 'what about my personal and professional documents?' "

10:41am: Bezos talks up the no-eyestrain screen, downloadable books, form factor "gets out of the way"

10:40am: Bezos: "Today we've added another 45,000 books in just the last three months. we're actually accelerating. Kindle sales are now 35% of books"

10:38am: Jeff Bezos walks onstage

10:31am: Nothing yet. Observation: Lots of netbooks in the audience, including Asus, Acer, MSI and Dell.

10:15am: I've got a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS7 in my left pocket, a Flip UltraHD in my right pocket, and a laptop in front of me. Let's go, Bezos -- whatcha got?

Also: Lots of people here. TechCrunch, CNET, Reuters, New York Times, Consumer Reports, Engadget, etc.

10:03 AM: And we're in! Slow '70s r&b on the PA system. Groovy.

9:58 AM EST: Lots of chatter among the journalists about saving newspapers, evaluating the cost of the Kindle versus a subscription to the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. A few mentions about the textbook biz, but more about "lugging around pounds of books" rather than a Kindle. What, no mention of textbook costs?

9:30 AM EST:

I'm live on the scene at Pace University in lower Manhattan for Amazon's rumored "large-format Kindle" press conference, set to begin at 10:30 EST. While I set up shop and wait for this thing to begin, here are a few major points to think about going into this event :

  • Will Amazon actually reveal a large-format Kindle? It's been spotted in the wild, but the company never officially said it was the reason for the event. (But c'mon.)
  • For what reason does the company justify the device? There's been a lot of speculation about "saving newspapers," but this event is happening at a university, not the New York Times building uptown. There's a reason for that.
  • If it's about the textbook market, is it really a better alternative? The original Kindle goes for $359. This one may cost more, unless it's Wi-Fi only, which would make sense for a student on a campus (which then prompts the question: is it more useful to a student overall than an iPod touch?). Still, is a device like this better than $400 worth of books per semester...that can't be resold after the semester's over?
  • If it's about saving newspapers, why? News is easier to read online, free, and always up-to-date. If it's about magazines or science textbooks -- or even newspapers, honestly -- a lack of color is a dealbreaker. Period.
  • Is it the right size? It's been rumored to be 9.7 inches. Is that too small for newspapers, textbooks or magazines with artwork? Will it siphon potential sales of the smaller Kindle? Is it too much extra work to redesign a publication for a third outlet?
  • The real profits in this business model come from the sale of content, not devices.

Stay tuned -- more on the way.

More Kindle coverage on ZDNet:

Topics: Amazon, CXO, Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi

About

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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