The second-generation Kindle Paperwhite will cost the same as the older version — starting at $119 for a Wi-Fi version with ads — and offers a higher-contrast display, a better light and a faster processor. The company also says there’s new touchscreen technology and that a “19 percent tighter touch grid” offers better responsiveness.
There are also a number of new software features, which could eventually be integrated into older Kindle e-readers. Book-based social network Goodreads, which Amazon acquired this spring, will be integrated into the device in a post-launch software update, with access to Goodreads from the top navigation bar on the new Paperwhite. The company notes that “We’ve made it easy to take every Amazon purchase you’ve made — print or digital — and add it to Goodreads.” VP of Kindle Content Russ Grandinetti told me the Goodreads integration will arrive sometime this holiday season.
Another new feature is Kindle FreeTime, Amazon’s set of parental controls that were previously only included with Kindle Fire tablets. Again, this feature won’t be available until the holidays, when it will be an update. Parents will be able to create customized profiles with reading goals for each of their kids, then receive “progress reports” on the time the kids spent reading, the number of words they looked up and the number of books they finished. Kindle FreeTime Unlimited — Amazon’s tablet subscription product for kids that includes unlimited access to ebooks, movies and games — is not available on the Kindle Paperwhite, though Grandinetti said the company is thinking about how that could work.
Other little improvements, which will be included in the software when the device ships: Kindle PageFlip, which lets readers skim through a book without losing their place, a “Vocabulary Builder” that lets users quiz themselves on the words they had to look up while reading, and “Smart Lookup,” which “integrates a full dictionary definition with other reference information about a word, character, topic or book via X-Ray and Wikipedia.” Readers can also now read footnotes without losing their place.
The launch of the Kindle Paperwhite was bungled earlier today, when Amazon accidentally posted a product page for the new e-reader. That page was discovered by the users of a Croatian forum and many bloggers, and Amazon pulled the page down — before reposting it a little before 10 AM PT, then sending out press releases and announcing the new Paperwhite on the Amazon.com homepage a few minutes later.
This post was updated on Tuesday afternoon with information from a briefing with Amazon.