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Popular talk-show host Oprah Winfrey on Friday endorsed Amazon.com's Kindle, a blessing that will likely give the e-book reader a big boost against its major rival the Sony Reader.
In a posting on her Web site, Winfrey revealed that she had proclaimed the Kindle her "favorite new gadget" on her afternoon TV talk show. Earlier speculation that the celebrity would give the nod to the device was sparked by a 24-second video ad on the Amazon home page. The ad said Winfrey would discuss on her show a gadget that was "life-changing for me" and "the wave of the future." The ad ran directly above a promotion for the Kindle.
On her show, Winfrey, who was joined by Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, said that although the Kindle was pricy at $359, she looked at as an environmentally friendly investment. "I know it's expensive in these times, but it's not frivolous because it will pay for itself," she said, according to her Web site. "The books are much cheaper, and you're saving paper." All books are $9.99 or less on Amazon.
The books on Oprah's Kindle include The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski, The Audacity Of Hope by Barack Obama, Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones by Suzanne Somers, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The Forever War by Dexter Filkins, and Crack The Fat-Loss Code: Outsmart Your Metabolism And Conquer The Diet Plateau by Wendy Chant.
The endorsement by the media mogul is the gold ring coveted by many consumer-product companies. Winfrey has proven her star power through the popularity of her book club, which has catapulted many authors to The New York Times best-seller list. When Winfrey endorsed Obama for president, a study by University of Maryland economists Craig Garthwaite and Tim Moore showed that Winfrey's nod would add 1 million votes to the Democratic nominee.
Winfrey's endorsement of the Kindle could lead to more than just a sales boost. It could go a long way toward moving the Kindle to the mainstream from a niche market.
Amazon's Kindle and Sony's Reader, which are roughly the size of a slimmed-down paperback book, are capable of storing thousands of books, magazines, newspapers, or any other electronic document. The devices use the same display technology from E Ink, which displays crisp text that's readable even in sunlight.
A key difference is in how books can be purchased for the devices. Sony requires content to be bought on a PC and transferred to the Reader through a wired connection. The Kindle, however, ships with a cellular connection that also enables users to buy and download books directly from Amazon. The wireless connection is offered at no additional charge. The Kindle costs about $40 less than the Reader.