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Amazon's secret weapon: Kindle Lighted Leather Case

While it's expensive, the Kindle Lighted Leather Case has an ingenious design and will be a tempting add-on purchase for buyers of the third-generation Kindle.

The LED light in the Kindle Lighted Leather Case hides out in the top-right corner until you need it.
Sarah Tew/CNET

With Amazon's third-generation Kindle shipping soon, much of the talk has been about the device itself. But it's worth taking a moment to examine one of the better designed add-on accessories we've seen in recent years: the Kindle Lighted Leather Case.

What's so impressive about it? Well, as most everybody knows, one of the weaknesses of an E-Ink display is that it's not backlit so you need a light source to use a Kindle, Nook, or any E-Ink e-reader in the dark. Of course, a lot of people like to read in bed, especially insomniacs, but in many homes, there's a significant other sharing your space. Which is where a version of the Itty Bitty Book Light comes in. A few companies, including M-Edge, make Kindle covers that have integrated LED lights (we also like the detachable Octovo Solis light for the Kindle).

But with the Kindle Lighted Leather Case, the light completely disappears into the case--so much so that you don't notice that it's there at first glance. And just as importantly, it's powered by the Kindle itself via the case's metal connectors, which act as a conduit to the Kindle's built-in battery. That means your Kindle has to be turned on for the light to work (to access the light, you literally pull it out of the case as you would with a pull tab on a pop-up book).

The light, like a lot of LED book lights, doesn't splash uniformly across the screen. It's a little brighter in the right corner than the bottom of screen. But it does provide enough light for reading.

Alas, the big downside is that the Lighted Leather Case, which comes in seven colors, costs $59.99 (Amazon also sells a non-lighted version for $34.99). However, expensive as it is, a lot of people are going to be willing to spend the extra $25 for the integrated light. And of course, the margin on this thing has to be pretty good, so it's a nice way for Amazon to pad the bottom line on its Kindle hardware business (sorry for the bad pun, but couldn't resist).

The light is powered by the Kindle's internal battery. Sarah Tew/CNET