Amazon courts readers with new Fire HD 8: Will Kindle fans bite?

Amazon introduces a Fire HD 8 tablet that's optimized for reading. What's unclear is whether core Kindle e-reader fans will bite.

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The Amazon Fire HD 8 Reader's Edition aims to bring core Kindle features to the tablet.

Credit: Amazon

Amazon launched an 8-inch version of its Fire tablet that's designed to court readers.

The Fire HD 8 Reader's Edition is specialized for readers and packaged with a year of Kindle Unlimited and a leather cover. The price: $249.

Perhaps the biggest selling point of the reader-friendly version of the Fire HD is Amazon's Blue Shade technology, which cuts blue light exposure before bedtime.

Blue Shade is Amazon's tablet answer to the best feature of its core Kindle e-reader franchise: You can read it in bed without the stimulation that will screw up sleep.

In the big picture, Amazon also is watching e-reader sales decline often at the expense of tablets. Amazon will likely offer the core Kindle e-reader for the foreseeable future, but the Fire HD 8 Reader's Edition could offer a device consolidation path in the future.

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The reader's version of the Fire HD has an exclusive font called Bookerly for reading, adjustable fonts and multicolored highlighters. Goodreads, Audible and Whispersync are also bundled.

In many respects, the Fire HD 8 Reader's Edition is packaged as a core Kindle e-reader with a color screen that would be better for comic books, picture books and Amazon's video services.

What's unclear is whether core Kindle fans will consider the Fire HD even with the tablet perks. I'm a Kindle Paperwhite customer and the reader edition of the Fire HD 8 would be a tough sell for me (even though the comic book possibilities are enticing). Even with a different price point, I'm likely to stick with an e-ink display, which is just more soothing after being on a device screen all day.

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Compare and contrast the reader experience on the Fire HD 8 Reader's Edition and Kindle Paperwhite.

Credit: Amazon