kindle.html 1 / 2August 04, 2009 Crimson Editor<!DOCTYPEDOCTYPE htmlhtml PUBLICPUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN"
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<titletitle>The Paper Chase | Wired August 2009</titletitle></headhead><bodybody><h2h2>Steven Levy</h2h2><h1h1>The Paper Chase</h1h1><h3h3>Even the supersize Kindle might not be big enough to save publishing.</h3h3><pp>In February, Amazon CEO JeffBezos unveiled the Kindle 2 at New York City's Morgan Library. By all indications (Amazon has yet to offer an API to its own financials), the updateof his electronic reading device defied the recession and sold tons. You would havethought that Bezos would take a rest. But in May he was back in New York, this time atPace University-with <emem>another</emem> Kindle.</pp><pp> He called it the Kindle DX, but it should have been called the Kindle XL because thenewcomer is all about size. The original model's e-ink screen m~asured 6 inchesdiagonally, roughly equivalent to a typical paperback. The DX has a 9.7-inch screen,about the size of a hardcover. That's two and half times more reading area. The realtrick is that Amazon has supersized the Kindle without making it bulky-the new guy isstill only about a third of an inch thick. It's very easy to hold.</pp><pp>Amazon is marketing the DX, priced at a gulp-inducing $489, to some specific users:college students, professionals who read a lot of documents, and consumers of newspapersand magazines. One ofthe speakers at the May event was <emem>New York Times</emem> publisherArthur Sulzberger Jr., who spoke briefly of plans to offer special Kindle subscriptiondeals to people living in places where the paper doesn't deliver. (Aren't those theplaces where people don't care about <emem>New York Times</emem>?) He then retreated to theluxurious new building the Times Company built before the Internet put it on the vergeof bankruptcy.</pp><pp>But I'm less interested in subscription models than in presentation. The original Kindle-the first truly connected e-reader~ ade me think these devices would evolve into sleek,inexpensive gadgets that could combine the richness of print with the ability to performneat tricks of the digital era, like animate graphics and target ads. If you've seen <emem>Minority Report</emem>, you know what I mean. You could subscribe to newspapers andmagazines on the first Kindle, but the experience was awful, requiring painstakingmanipulation of a weird scroll bar to find the article you wanted. For the Kindle 2, Ama-: zon improved the software and upgraded the screen to grayscale so the photoS woulllno longer look like fetal ultrasounds. Butits plodding menu-based interface still madenavigating newspapers difficult, and the rich graphic quality that makes magazines suchan indulgence is totally missing. Even the flashiest print publication looks like TheNew England Journal of Medicine. So I was disappointed to discover that the launchversion of the DX handles newspapers and magazines exactly the same way its predecessordoes.</pp><pp>Here's what we really need to make print publications shine: a Super Kindle, made byAmazon or someone else. It wouldbe an inexpensive (cheap enough to lose), always-ondevice with deep, hi-res color, e-ink, and a touchscreen. You could browse through lushpages by finger-flipping. You'd be able to point at a story on a carefully choreographedfront page to access a gorgeously designed article. Tap an ad and an animated demo wouldbegin.</pp><pp>When I showed the DX to WIRED'S editor in chief, he rotated it to landscape mode to seewhether it was wide enough to convey the experience of a magazine spread-it covered lessthan half the territory. Even the expanded screen could deliver only a shrunkenfacsimile. But then he took the leather binder that Amazon sells to cover the reader andflipped it open. The folio fit the open pages of WI RED almost precisely. Imagine thatbinder crammed full of silicon and liquid crystal-that's the form factor of the futureperiodical.</pp>