With the success of the Kindle I and Kindle II still fresh in its memory, Amazon decided to take its line of e-ink digital ebook readers to the next level with the newly announced Kindle DX. The Kindle DX is basically a supersized Kindle II, but it comes with a number of interesting improvements.
The Kindle DX is not only larger than its little brother (a 9.7″ display as opposed to the 6″ one on the Kindle II), but also comes with accelerometers that rotate the display content according to orientation, something we’ve seen on many of Apple’s portable devices already. It also has a built-in PDF renderer, so you no longer need to convert PDF files in order to read them on your Kindle. The DX will sport a rather hefty price tag of 489 USD.
The Kindle DX is aimed squarely at the educational market, and several pilot programs built around the device will start at several American universities. Amazon has struck deals with the three major suppliers of textbooks, ensuring a decent supply of material. How exactly the pilot programs will work has not yet been detailed. Several newspapers in the US will also start pilot programs with the Kindle DX, offering discounts to people who are willing to commit to longer-term subscriptions.
Back in the mid 1990s, my father, who worked at a major newspaper company here in The Netherlands for well over 30 years, already showed me the future of the newspaper. Fifteen years ago, they were already showing around prototypes of Kindle-like devices (but with LCD displays, not e-ink) which would replace the traditional newspaper. Customers would get a little disc in the mail every morning the contents of which could be loaded onto the device.
It sounded like total science fiction to me back then, but my father always remained adamant that that was the future of the newspaper. Working at a newspaper for so long, he realised full well that newspapers would face some seriously harsh times in the future, and as it turned out, he was right: basically every major newspaper in The Netherlands is seeing a steady, and sometimes even sharp decline in readership. Costs have to be cut everywhere, which affects the quality of reporting as well.
To this very day, my father and I sometimes talk about that demonstrantion he saw 15 years ago, and how reality is finally catching up to the science fiction of the past.