Yep, Kindle 2. It costs $360.

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In a staggering announcement that jellied the brain meats of all who were present through the sheer concussive force of stupefaction, Amazon announced the Kindle 2 today, which looks exactly like the soothsayer mockups of one psychic Photoshopper that leaked to the Internet the other day.

As rumored, it costs $359. The battery has been improved by 25%, giving 4 days of straight reading with EVDO on, and 20 days without. Internal storage has also been improved, up to 2GBs. Amazon’s bizarre conversion process remains for most of the common ebook formats. It has text-to-speech built in, which will finally make an ebook reader accessible to the visually impaired, and an improved screen. It is also staggeringly thin… little thicker than a magazine.

Essentially, it’s a prettier, thinner Kindle with an improved screen and better button placement and a few other cool new features that will largely go unused. From this side of the press conference (the non-attending side), it seems to be an incremental revision that doesn’t muck too much with the formula of its predecessor, besides some slight tweaking of both aesthetics and power. But Joel’s slurping down comped booze and playing with a Kindle 2 as we speak, so we’ll have his report in a bit.

Kindle 2 [Amazon]

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28 Responses to Yep, Kindle 2. It costs $360.

  1. dpfeil says:

    The demonstration video on the Kindle2 product page has a reference to boingboing when talking about being able to read blogs. It is about 4:30 into the video. Nice…

  2. styrofoam says:

    @Midknyght

    “That would be well and good, but the ones that I have ever read about having done/tried this also go to the [silly?] extreme of not allowing more than x number of check-outs, as if you were borrowing a real book from a limited pool.”

    This is going to go a little higher up the licencing chain- the Library has to buy a set of licences from the publisher, so they can really only lend out so many at a certain time. Without the licensing system, a library only needs to buy one copy and that isn’t what the industry is really in favor of supporting.

    The digital lack of physicality really screws up the long established way of thinking. I understand that technically the library could theoretically lend out a single copy of the book to every person on the planet; but on the other hand, a writer deserves to get paid for selling more than one copy of a book.

    Magic involving statistical distribution of lending would probably be a decent start- but having a library enabled to provide x# of lends a quarter would probably get messy too.

    I don’t have good answers, but I think the consumer and the industry have valid points- reconciling them is something smarter people (and dumber people) haven’t been able to figure out yet…

  3. dodi says:

    Thanks Mappo, my day wasn’t complete without pop up my nose.

    I still want one, but was really hoping the price would be low enough to be an impulse buy. Is still too high for spontaneous shopping. Drat.

  4. styrofoam says:

    @strangepork:
    And this newfangled printing press is a lousy upgrade from the masterpieces that were hand-transcribed books. Ooh, the wonderful feel of vellum, the rich and beautiful calligraphy dancing across the page!

    Yes yes, things will never be as good as they were in the old days, so there’s no point to innovation.

    I don’t get the hatred for e-ink. Yes it’s not perfect, but the iterations are going to bring out a pretty exciting set of developments over the next few years.

  5. styrofoam says:

    If Amazon started a book club- Buy a kindle for $99 and be on a contract to buy 8 books over the next two years or something, they’d be onto something.

    I Also kind of wish they’d drop the whispernet and roll those savings onto the customer. WiFi is free, but it totally kills the “you don’t need a computer to use this” claim.

  6. TharkLord says:

    Buttons? No iPhonish touch screen sensitivity? I would have thought that would be a given on a product like this.

    Also, I couldn’t find anything in the specs about transmitting the book to a friend when I am done with it. Am I missing something?*

    *transparent leading question

  7. zuzu says:

    Does it still run Linux?

    Does it render PDFs yet?

  8. Chris Furniss says:

    This new design looks like it has a huge footprint. I’d gladly accept a thicker model for less plastic bordering the screen. And dedicating so much of it to that clunky bubble wrap looking keyboard seems odd… besides typing in titles for search or purchasing, how often are you going to be using a keyboard? I want an e-book reader that looks like a book and has simple, easy to use buttons that are hidden away until I need them. And I want it to fit in my pocket. And I want a pony.

  9. theawesomerobot says:

    I’m sorry, but if you’re blind and you buy a kindle you’re an absolute idiot. (also, the text to speech capability on this thing is really robotic sounding)

  10. therevengor says:

    I’m worried about Joel…

  11. Anonymous says:

    Who *cares* how thin it is when it’s so stupidly large in all of the other dimensions?

    And could somebody that uses one of these things regularly please explain to me why a *reader* needs a full alphanumeric keyboard? Why does it need all of those keys? WHY? WWWWHHHHYYYY?!?!??!!

  12. midknyte says:

    And I want a pony. And I want it to fit in my pocket.

  13. Sean Eric FAgan says:

    Wait, EVDO? Amazon’s page said 3G. Am I confused?

  14. John Lupien says:

    Zowie, and it’s only $300 too expensive for
    what it does.

    Seriously, a factor of 6 overpriced, minimum.
    And still with the DRM. Lose…

  15. Anonymous says:

    Why not a touchscreen keyboard for when needed?

  16. midknyte says:

    “…I also with Libraries could get self-dissolving DRM that’d allow me to get a book in this format that would just dissappear in 2 weeks…”

    That would be well and good, but the ones that I have ever read about having done/tried this also go to the [silly?] extreme of not allowing more than x number of check-outs, as if you were borrowing a real book from a limited pool.

  17. Strangepork says:

    I still prefer reading analog style, on a medium that doesn’t need to be recharged and “ruggedized”.
    Heck I can even borrow them from the library without having DRM headaches!

    Pass.

  18. mappo says:

    Is that a pony in your pocket or did you buy the new Kindle?

  19. Zebra05 says:

    Still a USA only product.

  20. allen says:

    @22 battery life, I expect.

  21. styrofoam says:

    You’re missing friends that you trust enough to put on your billing account on Amazon. If you did that, everybody’d have access to all your books.

    I understand the problems attached to DRM around creative media. If the licensing on the Kindle media were transferable- like I could go into “My Library” and say “I surrender the rights to this item to the following user” and then that user could grab it and claim the licence in their name, I think that’d be fair. But that doesn’t exist.

    I also with Libraries could get self-dissolving DRM that’d allow me to get a book in this format that would just dissappear in 2 weeks. But all the online eCatalogs I see require a specific adobe viewer or Windows media format of some sort or other.

    I know the glorious world would be best served with no DRM keeping the people down, but I also understand that the ease of which a DRM free book can be multiplied between machines is totally different than lending a book to a friend, and does change the model significantly. In a lot of cases, arguments are made to “well, I wouldn’t have bought this product anyways, so it’s OK to get it through any means necessary.” On the other hand, if it’s that easy to get your hands on, even people that WERE going to buy it might think twice about it.

    I know Cory and Radiohead and others are trying to bring in the framework for the brave new world, but I’m not sure we’re there yet. Maybe I’m wrong.

  22. Rodney says:

    I’d pay $99 for it. If there were more books for it. And it didn’t look like it was designed in 1992.

  23. Anonymous says:

    It’s too dang big. The best ebook reader I ever had was a Sony Clie palm device. Black & white display with a backlight, it was thin and fit nicely in my hand. There was a jog wheel on the side positioned perfectly for my thumb, allowing me to hold it and read with one hand while holding on to the grab bar in the subway with the other. I read many books on it before it died and I couldn’t replace it.

    The whole point of having an ebook reader, as far as I’m concerned, is to have something small. If I’m going to carry around something the size of a Kindle, I would just as soon carry a dead-trees book.

  24. midknyte says:

    “…This is going to go a little higher up the licencing chain- the Library has to buy a set of licences from the publisher…”

    Yeah, I over simplified. It’s more another situation where established rules and practices have lost pace with technology.

    Here’s an sad/interesting twist

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090210/1014293724.shtml

  25. zuzu says:

    Wait, EVDO? Amazon’s page said 3G. Am I confused?

    CDMA2000 vs. UMTS. I agree, it’s confusing.

  26. Halloween Jack says:

    Big Steve King wrote a novella that’s being published exclusively on the K2. Hell, if he’s going to put something on this, it should be one of his cinder block books, like The Stand or IT.

  27. mdh says:

    (also, the text to speech capability on this thing is really robotic sounding)

    So are you.

  28. weatherman says:

    I’m coming around to the new design. I currently use the Sony Reader PRS-500, which has an excellent design but not quite4 as good a screen (and obviously no Whispernet). What I’ve noticed about holding the Sony is that because the bezel of it is only about 1/2″, my fat thumbs usually overalap on the screen, or I end up sorta pinching the device.

    Smaller in all dimensions is good for portability, but not always good for ergonomics. Once the reviews of this thing start coming in, I expect a lot of them will say that it is very comfortable to hold for hours at a time, which is very important for an ebook reader.

    I still don’t like the white color. Everything else about the design is much improved from the first version – enough for it to on my list as my next ebook reader when I decide to upgrade.

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