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ARTICLE: A YEAR LATER, AMAZON'S KINDLE FINDS A NICHE
Len Augsburger forwarded this article about Amazon's Kindle electronic book reader. He writes: " I'm still skeptical, but apparently it is catching on." -EditorAmazon.com's electronic Kindle reader -- a device meant to remove the paper from the page and make reading both more convenient and eco-friendly -- is celebrating its first birthday.
Released in November 2007, the Kindle has sold more than a quarter million units. Its texts account for 10 percent of Amazon's book sales despite the fact that 200,000 titles -- a tiny fraction of the books offered on the site -- are available in digital form.
While exact sales figures are hard to come by, recent estimates have put the Kindle's sales on par with other high-profile mobile devices in their first year. Amazon.com says that the Kindle is currently sold out due to heavy demand.
So what has spurred its success? After all, electronic books have been around, in small numbers, for about a decade. Even Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and CEO, has admitted that the book is "elegantly suited to its purpose. It's hard to improve on."
One thing that's helped the Kindle is marketing. Where other readers failed to connect with consumers, the Kindle has excelled. The media-savvy Bezos has hardly been publicity shy, gaining his electronic toy a level of exposure most CEOs couldn't begin to fathom.
"You can't discount the prominence of having Amazon behind this," says Paul Reynolds, technology editor at Consumer Reports. "Jeff Bezos is respected for what he's done with Amazon, and if he feels this is a future product in media, people are willing to trust him."
Second, the gadget has been heralded by Oprah Winfrey, whose influence in the publishing world is immense. It's also been embraced by some prominent writers, including Nobel laureate Toni Morrison and best-selling thriller author James Patterson.
Third, with more and more consumers accustomed to reading text on their cell phones and BlackBerrys, the world finally may be ready for an electronic version of a book.
"I checked it out on Amazon and thought it was an intriguing idea, a great way to have a lot of books that don't take up a lot of space," says Emily Branch of Florida, who was moved to buy a Kindle after seeing the hosts of "The View" chatting about it.
"I figured if I didn't like it I could return it within 30 days," Branch says. "There wasn't a chance of that happening once I got it in my hands though."
One clutter-killing Kindle can hold about 200 books. And while other e-readers such as Sony's Reader must connect through a USB port to upload content, the Kindle is a wireless device, thanks to Whispernet, which is powered by Sprint's high-speed data network.
"I think the Whispernet is what sets the Kindle apart from all the other e-readers on the market," says Leslie Nicoll of Portland, Maine, who co-authored "The Amazon Kindle F.A.Q." book after her tech-loving teenage daughter urged her to get a Kindle.
To read the complete article, see: A year later, Amazon's Kindle finds a niche (http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/12/03/kindle.electronic.reader/index.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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