@ Kindle Launch: Amazon’s Book Reader Unveiled

bezoskindleThere’s a packed house on hand here at the W Union Square hotel in NYC for the official unveiling of Amazon’s (NSDQ: AMZN) much-hyped, oft-delayed e-book reader dubbed Kindle. Most of the details are already known, so we might be looking at more of an ooh-and-ahh fest.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos comes on stage, starting off with a lecture on the history of the book, from papyrus, to Gutenberg to mechanical book production. “Gutenberg would still recognize a modern day book… why are books the last bastion of analog?” “We knew we could never outbook the book”. Bezos going on to say that Amazon had to find ways to do things that Amazon.com that physical bookstores couldn’t do: customers reviews, community. The same challenge is here.

Specs: Much of this has already been revealed. Full-length page turner, display device that’s easy on the eyes — E-Ink technology, not backlit, long battery life. PC no longer required. No need to install software. No need to hunt for a free wi-fi hotspot.

Content: Several top newspapers and updates from over 300 top blogs. Not an RSS reader. Each Kindle comes with its own email address, which is how users can get their own personal docs onto the device (will this be used as a backdoor for third-party content providers?). Dictionary is built in, making it easy to instantly look up a word. Automatic access to “world’s greatest encyclopedia” Wikipedia. More in extended entry…

Whispernet: Company is paying for the data service that runs over Sprint’s (NYSE: S) EVDO network. Customer doesn’t have to worry about connecting or data plans, though of course this is all baked into the Kindle’s. User can “just read”. Bezos stops for a pregnant pause after stating that books will be delivered in less than a minute over this network.

Video: Now showing video of individuals talking up the Kindle. Moneyball author Michael Lewis: “It’s so simple you can be a moron… easier on the eye than the printed word.” Toni Morrison: “I think it’s huge.” Bezos: “Within a few pages you forget that you’re reading on a Kindle, and that was our top design requirement.” Guy Kawasaki: “This is Blackberry for blogs… this is an absolute necessity.”

Demo: Bezos giving his first demo, showing his reading list. At the top of the list is Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan, which he leafs through. Not so subtle message: The Kindle is a black swan. While reading, Bezos shows how easy it is to highlight a part, make a note and look up a word on the dictionary. Note: Bezos’s usage is being projected on a big screen, but the projection not very flattering. It looks bit dull and dark. A shot of the Amazon Kindle bookstore is similarly dull, particularly since none of the books covers are in color.

More to come
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