Amazon’s Kindle coming today- what does it bring new to ebooks?

KindleKevin’s early warning last week was accurate we now believe as Amazon’s CEO says that the online retailer will be releasing their innovative ebook reader, the Kindle today.  The web is all abuzz with this news as details have been provided about the reader and how Amazon will offer their wares for the device.  We should point out that from a hardware standpoint the Kindle is not that different from other devices that have come before it.  It looks rather clunky but weighs a svelte 10.3 ounces and uses eInk like the Sony Reader.  This should provide good battery life as the screen is not backlit, something that some will find to be a disadvantage compared to other devices that can read ebooks today.

CEO Jeff Bezos, in an interview with Newsweek, dropped some information about the Kindle that no one was expecting.  The Kindle will have integrated EV-DO that will operate on Amazon’s new Whispernet, a service that in effect makes the Kindle the first always connected book.  Owners can buy books online through the network and it can also handle email.  There’s no reason the Kindle couldn’t be an internet appliance too with always connected capability but we’ll have to see how Amazon implements it.  The downside to this radio integration is the potential hit on battery life.  Reader devices with eInk technology only hit the battery when a page is being turned, not when it’s just displaying a page which normally makes batteries last seemingly forever.  This won’t be the case with Whispernet integration so we’ll have to see how well that works.  The network intergration explains why Amazon has that ugly big keypad on the bottom of the reader, something that makes the device much bigger for carrying around.  We’ll have to see how that works and we’ll have to see if Amazon intends to charge anything for the Whispernet service.  If they do that the already high price of the Kindle, $399, will seem way out of line.

Amazon’s entry into this space can breathe new life into the ebook world because let’s face it, Amazon is one of the largest online book retailers in the world.  That makes them like Apple in the music business, and they could have some serious clout to bring ebook prices down.  They have already said that ebooks will sell for $9.99 for the Kindle so this may be a very good thing for the ebook industry.  We’ll have to wait and see how this goes with the announcement today, hopefully they’ll answer all the remaining questions about how this will work.  It can only be a good thing when a heavyweight like Amazon throws its hat into the ring.