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Monday, May 04, 2009, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

Amazon to introduce "big screen" Kindle device this week

Amazon.com is expected to introduce later this week a version of its Kindle digital eBook reader with a larger display screen fitted for presentation of newspapers, magazines and textbooks in a more traditional format, according to reports.

The big-box retailer and online bookseller on Monday began issuing to members of the media invitations to a special press conference this Wednesday, May 6th at 10:30 a.m. that will take place at Pace University in Manhattan.

These invites arrived just hours after a report in the New York Times cited people briefed on Amazon's plans as saying the retailer was gearing up to introduce "a larger version of its Kindle wireless device tailored for displaying newspapers, magazines and perhaps textbooks."

The newspaper, which is expected to be one of several media outlets involved in the unveiling, believes eBook readers with screens larger than the 6-inch display on the existing Kindle may pose an "irresistible proposition" to newspaper and magazine publishers who are looking to save millions on the cost of printing and distributing their publications at a time when there business have come under immense financial pressure.

The jumbo Kindle, as some have called it, is expected to be the first of several similarly-positioned devices due to hit the market in the next 12-months, with other offerings reported to be in the works by the likes of News Corp., the magazine publisher Hearst, and upstart Plastic Logic.

A Kindle with a larger viewing surface could renew consumers interest in paying for subscriptions to content that has in recent years has become freely accessible on the Web, while also affording publishers the opportunity to present their material in a digital format that resembles that of their print editions.

But when Amazon takes the wraps off its new device on Wednesday, it may focus on an entirely different market: education. In the weeks leading up to the introduction of the Kindle 2 (unboxing, review) this past February, rumors were abound of an upcoming education model that would feature a larger screen and be marketed to students as an alternative to textbooks.

Plastic Logic

Plastic Logic has been touting its own larger-form factor digital eBook reader, expected to hit the market later this year.


With Amazon having selected an educational institution to host this week's event, it's likely those rumors will pan out to some degree. The retailer chose public libraries as the site of its first two Kindle introductions.