Consumers have long been able to download audio and partial-text versions of books. But now, with a simple button click, a new electronic reading device is poised to do for books what Apple and the iPod did for music.
It's called the Amazon Kindle, and for three years Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has worked diligently to produce the completely wireless device, which launches in stores today.
"When people see it in person for the first time they do a double take," Bezos said.
The 10-ounce gadget can hold up to 200 books at a time. And while the mechanism has no monthly fees or wireless bills for purchasers to worry about, Bezos said the added value means consumers should not expect to see a drop in the Kindle's $399 price tag.
"Customers think that electronic books should be less expensive than physical books, and we've done that," Bezos said. "It's an extremely convenient way to read your favorite blogs. So we've tried to package together a series of things and put that with this great display device — this electronic ink screen — and make it wireless so you can go anywhere."
The Kindle not only allows users to download books, but also newspapers and magazines, and they can subscribe to blogs in less than a minute. Bezos said it will revolutionize the way people read, and it's simple to use.
"When you're ready to buy this book, you just scroll up to the buy button and you click on your scroll reel," he said. "The book will be wirelessly downloaded to your device."
Part of the Kindle's charm is that it aims to read like a real book with a paperlike display. But unlike old-school periodicals, users control the settings on the eBook.
"If you want to change the font size," Bezos said, "you can just come down and pick your font size."
While Bezos is enthused about his new product, the entrepreneur is already working on ways to improve the Kindle.
"The book is a highly evolved object, and it's fantastically, elegantly suited to its purpose, and our job is to even improve on something that is so elegant and so well done and that's what we're working on doing here. And I think people will be pleasantly impressed," Bezos said.
Click here for more information on the Kindle.