Live from New York: Amazon's Kindle press conference

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.

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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

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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15 comments
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  • Message has been deleted.

    grantmacdonald
  • RE: Live from New York: Amazon's Kindle press conference

    If Amazon does roll out a textbook Kindle it will be a star. Just left a grad school program and I would not say the money you get back for used textbooks (if they take them) is worth much. Likely would be made up for in ebook price. More importantly not having to lug around those heavy texts and use up so much paper in their production would be well worth a couple hundred bucks over 2 to 4 years. If you can digitally excerpt text that is highlighted--wow! you could be building notes digitally while reading which is how most of us store stuff on our laptops now anyway.
    gp64d
  • I don't get it

    What's the business model for this thing? I just don't see that it's something that a lot of people want, need, or will buy.

    I work in technology and don't hear anyone talking about it.

    I'm not getting the vision for this do-dad.
    rag@...
  • Great. Nearly $500.00 WITHOUT any reading material.

    What a total waste of money. Another P.T. Barnum moment.

    Oh...and monochrome as well? For what this thing costs, the LEAST they could have done was to give it a color display.
    ths40
  • RE: Live from New York: Amazon's Kindle press conference

    Guess what, you can download textbooks as pdf now and put it on your 80 dollar color screen pda with zooming abilities. Also you can go cheaper if you buy palm. I have never had to pick up a paper text book in 2 years of college because of that.
    hawkeyefile
  • RE: Live from New York: Amazon's Kindle press conference

    I just weighed my textbooks for this semester; total = 42 lbs
    Most days I have to carry about 3/4's of that because of how my schedule works. I love the idea of using a Kindle for textbooks but unless I had a way to annotate text or append drawings onto the textbook I can't see laying out the money.
    netsysmgr@...
  • RE: Live from New York: Amazon's Kindle press conference

    The screen is the size of my EeePC. It costs more and doesn't do color. Sure the battery lasts longer but the kindle can do less. The little PC has a hard drive and two gig of ram.

    I have some real issues with the Kindle and the first one is price. The next is the battery will go bad and you aren't supposed to crack the case open.

    I have been told that the parts add up to a major profit for Amazon on these machines but then I don't know that is true.
    deowll
  • RE: Live from New York: Amazon's Kindle press conference

    What's up with Amazon? Can't ANYONE create an
    e-book reader for under 50 bucks? There are a
    lot of us who are just barely making ends meet.
    I am waiting for that day when I can go to the
    discount store and get one for 20 dollars. Then
    I could buy 10 and give them away as gifts to
    my family and friends.
    olen79760
  • RE: Live from New York: Amazon's Kindle press conference

    Looks to me that the new Kindle will give Sony's Reader a run for the money.
    WSHBaker@...
  • RE: Live from New York: Amazon's Kindle press conference

    No textbooks, no deal.
    SteveRMann
  • Still useless to me.

    I live in Canada, and Amazon.ca doesn't sell Kindles here for whatever reason - Celluliar access fees? Who knows, but, hey, great for you Yanks!

    I guess I'll stick with my palm, the one I can read in bed at night without eyesore simply by reversing text and background colours (white text/black background).

    A kind of a "duh" thing, eh? Big Deal. eInk. Now if it was "Colour eInk", that THAT would be something.

    Amazon's got a good scam going on here. $60 in parts, $400 profit on each one, plus sales of the eBooks at $0 cost to produce each one! Sort of "while we have the fish on the hook, lets see what else we can squeeze out of them", eh?

    I've been using Palm and Mobipocket for years now, and I honestly don't see me changing any time soon.

    Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I'll go back to reading ZDnet and shaking my head at consumerism gone wacky in the 'States.
    Edouin
  • Type A reporting...

    Gotta love the time line b.s. not.

    Just give us the basics, this minute by minute stuff is for people with no life.
    Narg
  • RE: Live from New York: Amazon's Kindle press conference

    Does it still use Sprint's 3G network? When will it be offered for ATT and VZW?
    karen.w.johnson@...
  • RE: Live from New York: Amazon's Kindle press conference

    I don't get it. It costs nothing to read a paper book. An electronic bookreader can't be worth than $50.
    abarten
  • RE: Live from New York: Amazon's Kindle press conference

    500 dollars? They're insane! Somebody call me when it drops below 100...
    d29bear446@...