AFP - Amazon unveiled a large-screen version of its popular Kindle electronic reader on Wednesday, promoting it as a handier device for reading newspapers, magazines and textbooks.
The Kindle DX costs 489 dollars and features a screen which at 9.7 inches (24.6 centimeters) is 2.5 times larger than the six-inch (15.24 cm) screen on the earlier versions of the Kindle, which cost 359 dollars.
Amazon said the latest Kindle, which will ship this summer, has a built-in PDF document reader and 3.3 gigabytes of memory which can store up to 3,500 books compared with 1,500 books for the Kindles 1 and 2.
While the earlier versions of the Kindle were mainly book readers, Amazon touted the latest version as better suited to reading newspapers, magazines and textbooks.
"The larger electronic paper display with 16 shades of gray has more area for graphic-rich content such as professional and personal documents, newspapers and magazines, and textbooks," Amazon said in a statement.
Some 50 US and international magazines and newspapers -- desperate to stop the flow of red ink from a loss of advertising and readers to the Web -- have signed up to make their publications available on the new Kindle.
New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger attended the unveiling of the Kindle DX along with Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos at Pace University here.
Amazon said The New York Times Co. and The Washington Post Co. plan to offer the Kindle DX to readers as part of a pilot program.
The Kindle DX would be offered at a reduced price to readers of the Times, the Times-owned Boston Globe, and The Washington Post "who live in areas where home-delivery is not available and who sign up for a long-term subscription to the Kindle edition of the newspapers."
"At The New York Times Company we are always seeking new ways for our millions of readers to have full and continuing access to our high-quality news and information," Sulzberger said.
"The wireless delivery and new value-added features of the Kindle DX will provide our large, loyal audience, no matter where they live, with an exciting new way to interact with The New York Times and The Boston Globe."
Like other US newspapers, the Times, Globe and Post have been struggling to find new sources of revenue as print advertising income falls and readers go online to read the news for free.
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., US newspaper and magazine publisher Hearst and California-based start-up Plastic Logic are among other companies known to be developing e-readers for newspapers.
Amazon said new periodicals available in the Kindle Store from Wednesday include BusinessWeek and The New England Journal of Medicine. It said Britain's Economist will be available soon.
Amazon said more than 1,500 blogs would be also available for downloading on the new Kindle, which still features only a black and white screen and cannot display advertising.
An Amazon official said advertising could make its way to Kindle screens at some point, however.
Amazon also touted the Kindle DX as a replacement for bulky textbooks.
"We're going to get students with smaller backpacks, less load, easier access," said Bezos.
Amazon said three of the leading US textbook publishers Cengage Learning, Pearson, and Wiley would begin offering textbooks through the online Kindle Store this summer.
It said Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University, Princeton University, Reed College, and Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia would launch a trial programs to make hundreds of Kindle DX devices available to students.
"The Kindle DX holds enormous potential to influence the way students learn," said Barbara Snyder, president of Case Western Reserve University.
"We look forward to seeing how the device affects the participation of both students and faculty in the educational experience," she said.