Live blog: Amazon unveils Kindle 2

The second generation of the Kindle e-reader is announced in New York, and CNET News is on site to live-blog the launch.

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Update at 7:25 a.m. PST: Kindle 2 has been officially announced.

Amazon.com unveiled the second generation of its Kindle e-book reader during an event Monday morning at New York's Morgan Library and Museum.

The event started at 7 a.m. PST/10 a.m. EST, and we're updating it live below. Below the CoverItLive box, see photos of the new, $359 Kindle 2, which will start shipping February 24. (See also press release and Kindle 2 site.)




Amazon Kindle 2: Complete CNET coverage

10:03
We're here at the Morgan Library and Museum on Madison Ave. The press conference is starting a little bit late...

10:09
Okay, they're about to start.

10:21
Wireless is extremely unstable:

"Today I'm excited to announce Kindle 2." thin, light, weighs only 10.2 ounces (.1 less), .36 inches thick. iPhone is .48. Kindle is 25% thinner. A big engineering challenge.

Easy to hold. "Page-turning buttons flex inward. We added a five-way controller to improve navigation. Easy to use one-handed.

16 shades of gray vs. 4 in new e-ink. Crisper photos and text, page turns are 20 percent faster. Battery life is 25 percent longer. You can read for 2 weeks on a single charge.

10:21
Bezos onstage. I finally have Wi-Fi access again.

10:21
Free 3G wireless delivery in less than 6 seconds.

10:22
New feature: WhisperSync syncs up with Kindle 1, Kindle 2, and in the future, other mobile devices.

10:22
Here's what he said before, in summary: Long-form reading is losing ground to short-form reading. We read blog posts, emails, etc.

Books haven't changed in 500 years - Gutenberg would still recognize it

20 years ago: Revolution begins with connected devices, computers. He's convinced mobile e-mail makes him more productive, loves e-mail and blogs, but we learn different things from long-form than short-form reading. Some things can only be taught or understood in hundreds of pages.

10:22
10 percent of Amazon's sales are now on the Kindle, too.

10:22
Now he's demonstrating a New York Times view.

10:23
"This is a really dramatic improvement in newspaper navigation."

10:23
Headline, first few paragraphs now visible above the jump.

10:25
Five-way controller now getting demonstrated, showing Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." If you want to look up a word in the book, "chary." 250K word dictionary accessible on Kindle.

10:25
Or, rather, he's looking up the word "chary."

10:26
Using one of the buttons on the five-button navigator, he looks up the words, says it means "cautious." "Maybe one day I'll have a better vocabulary," Bezos jokes.

10:26
New feature getting demonstrated with Gettysburg Address.

10:26
"One of the things that you can do with Kindle 2 is you can have it read to you." Text-to-speech built in.

10:27
Can read out loud to you if you're commuting, busy, etc.

10:27
Demonstrating the audio. Text-to-speech is still clearly text-to-speech, but a big improvement over the famous old Mac text-to-speech.

10:27
"Keeps page as it reads so it's easy to go back and forth between reading and listening."

10:28
Bezos now showing interviews of Kindle 1 customers given Kindle 2.

10:29
"Everything about it is sleek, it's all enclosed." "It's thin, it's thinner than any book."

10:29
"I read more, I read faster, I read a wider variety of books, I read books that I'm not familiar with, genres that I'm not familiar with because of the wonderful opportunity to get free downloads from Amazon."

10:29
"It's better than a book."

10:30
One customer says that she started reading her local paper on a Kindle when it stopped delivery service.

10:31
New button placement is v. efficient, another customer says.

10:32
Easy to change font size, etc., another customer says.

10:32
(Obviously, Amazon's not going to show any negative feedback.)

10:32
Bezos is back!

10:35
"14 months ago we had 90,000 books available for Kindle. Today it's 230,000 and we're accelerating." 40K added in last 3 months. 103 of 110 NYTimes bestsellers. Goal is to make every book in every language ever printed available in 60 seconds.

10:35
STEPHEN KING ONSTAGE. "I'm the entertainment," he jokes. Amazon had asked him if he wanted to write a new story for exclusive Kindle download and he originally said he didn't think so because he hadn't wanted to write a story on demand.

10:36
King says he has been a Kindle customer since the early days.

10:37
Eventually, King says, he thought about how many things we read onscreen and changed his mind.

10:38 "My wife likes to say that lobster is an excuse to eat butter. For me, sometimes, writing a story is an excuse to write a certain scene." Wanted to write a scene about the phenomenon of "reading off a computer and the crisis point that at least the press has made between print media...and the evil Kindle."

10:38
He started writing the story two days before Obama's inauguration. "And I did get a Kindle out of it."

10:39
He's going to read a piece of the story.

10:44
"This is a literature class, not an Internet chat room." Story's clearly about the print-digital chasm. And, um, the Kindle is a character in it. This is a little bit schlocky...

10:44

"This is a literature class, not an Internet chat room." Story's clearly about the print-digital chasm. And, um, the Kindle is a character in it. This is a little bit schlocky... "it's pretty neat. You can download books from thin air." In King's story, a 35-year-old English teacher is surprised by one of his students showing up for class with a Kindle.

10:48
The students have all heard of Kindle but their teacher hasn't, etc., etc. By the way, wireless in the room is unreliable again.

Oh, but apparently the Kindle in King's story has magical powers too. Sweet! The magic Kindle is pink! So Bezos gave King a real pink Kindle (one of a kind) as a thank-you.

11:00
Kindle's story is called "Ur." It's available today for pre-order, it'll be released in a couple of weeks. Bezos says it's "terrific."

11:00
Also: USA Today is latest newspaper now on Kindle. New Yorker, too, available today. New blogs like Gizmodo.

Price: $359. Pre-order now. Ships Feb 24. If Kindle 1 owners order a new one before midnight tomorrow night they'll get bumped to beginning of queue.

11:00
We're all done.

 

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