Amazon launches new Kindle

<p>As widely anticipated, Amazon.com has unveiled its new updated Kindle device, priced at $359 (&pound;241). The new device is thinner, lighter and has more memory than Kindle 1. <span class="ccbnTxt"> Author Stephen King has also confirmed that he is releasing a novella, <em>Ur</em>, which will only be available on Kindle.</span></p><p>The device will be released on 24th February and will be cheaper than the Kindle&#39;s original launch price of $399. However, UK customers will have to wait longer for the device to hit British shores as Amazon c.e.o Jeff Bezos did not mention a release date for this side of the Atlantic.</p><p>At a third of an inch thick, it is thinner than Apple&#39;s iPhone. Among the new features is a &quot;text to speech&quot; function, where users can switch from reading an e-book to listening to it in audiobook form. The device&#39;s Basic Web browser offers free wireless access to Wikipedia and &quot;text-centric&quot; websites such as Google. It also has a built in dictionary. Amazon said existing Kindle owners would receive the updated device as a priority.</p><p>Amazon said the new battery life would allow reader to use it for two weeks on a single charge, as well as carry 1,500 titles. The new device has a five way controller to navigate around the Kindle store and a user&#39;s library of books. Users can make notes and clip text using the controller and keyboard and these will be backed up at Amazon.com.</p><p>In a press statement, Bezos said: &quot;Kindle 2 is everything customers tell us they love about the original Kindle, only thinner, faster, crisper, with longer battery life, and capable of holding hundreds more books. If you want, Kindle 2 will even read to you&mdash;something new we added that a book could never do.&quot;</p><p>According to the various live blogs from the press conference in New York, Bezos has stated that <span>10% of Amazon&#39;s unit sales are now on the Kindle, though it is unclear what this refers to. Engadget is reporting the following quote: &quot;More than 10% of the units we sell are Kindle book sales -- that&#39;s astonishing. So what happened? 230,000 things happened, and that&#39;s Kindle books. Even the best device without selection is useless.&quot; </span>Publishing blog Galley Cat, has it that e-books now account for 10% of Amazon&#39;s sales, though with Amazon.com&#39;s sales in 2008 of $19.2bn, this seems unlikely.* </p><p><span>King joined Bezos at the press conference, where he indicated that he had been approached by Amazon.com to write an exclusive work on the Kindle. He said he had owned a Kindle since the &quot;early days&quot;. The story features a &quot;Kindle&quot; device, with magic powers (apparently).</span></p><p>The six inch screen remains the same size as the original device. Page turn buttons are located on both sides of the reader and an e-book page loads 20% quicker than on the previous Kindle.</p><p>Amazon.com customers who ordered the Kindle 1.0 will be automatically upgraded to the latest model. Books can be downloaded wirelessly to the device in less than a minute. Customers can preview a first chapter on the Kindle for free before downloading the entire book if they wish.</p><p>The first version of the Kindle went on sale in the United States in November 2007. Analysts at Citigroup have claimed that by 2010, Amazon.com will earn $1bn annually from the Kindle and e-book sales, some 4% of total revenue.</p><p>* GalleyCat has now clarified the actual number with an Amazon spokesperson saying: &quot;Kindle sales make up more than 10 percent of sales of books that are available in both traditional and e-book form.&quot; This is up from a 6% figure used by Bezos last year. </p>