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Amazon Ships Kindle 2 E-Book Reader

Some analysts have suggested that newspapers, magazines, and book publishers, for example, could one day subsidize a low-cost e-reader.

Amazon's Kindle 2

Amazon's Kindle 2
(click for larger image) on Monday started shipping the Kindle 2, a slimmer and lighter upgrade of the original electronic-book reader that has become one of the most popular consumer electronics offered by the online retailer.

Amazon started shipping the Kindle 2 a day earlier than scheduled. The retailer has been taking orders since Feb. 9.

"The response from customers to Kindle 2 has been tremendous," Ian Freed, VP of the Kindle, said in a statement. "In order to ensure we ship Kindle 2 by the original ship day of Feb. 24, we started shipping one day early."

While Amazon has never said how many Kindles it has sold since releasing the device in November 2007, the company has said that the Kindle represents 10% of the sales of the 230,000 books available in electronic format and in physical form.

The success of the first Kindle brought attention to the market potential of e-books and readers, which until the Kindle had attracted few customers. Today, most Kindle sales have been to professionals who travel a lot and appreciate the alternative to carrying several paperbacks, newspapers, and magazines, analysts say. That, however, could change in time, if Amazon or its rivals, which include Sony, drop the price of their readers to appeal to a more general audience.

Some analysts have suggested that newspapers, magazines, and book publishers, for example, could one day subsidize a low-cost e-reader, or even give one away, with a multiyear subscription, similar to how wireless carriers subsidize phones in return for two-year service contracts.

The Kindle 2 is a third of an inch thick, weighs about 10 ounces, gets more battery life, and has a better display than the original. In addition, Amazon has added more storage and has made the device faster. The price, however, remains the same: $359.

The Sony Reader, which starts at $300, is the main competitor of the Kindle.

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