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Amazon gambles on ebook market with Kindle

LONDON - Online book giant Amazon is taking on the likes of Microsoft with the launch of an oversized PDA ebook reader, dubbed the Amazon Kindle, which it hopes will reignite interest in reading books and magazines on screen.

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The white wireless enabled Kindle, priced at $399 (£195), allows users to download books in less than a minute, and automatically receive newspapers, magazines and blogs on the move.

The launch is a bold move for Amazon into the hardware market and into a niche where many have tried and failed with similar products, such as the Gemstar Rocket, the HP Jornada, the Sony Reader and Microsoft's Tablet, to name a few.

Jeff Bezos the Amazon.com founder and CEO said that the company had been working on Kindle for more than three years.

He said: "Our top design objective was for Kindle to disappear in your hands -- to get out of the way -- so you can enjoy your reading."

It can be displayed on its side as a high-resolution electronic paper style display, which allows articles to be read in sunlight. It has a catalogue of 90,000 books at launch, priced at $9.99.

It is designed to reflect light like ordinary paper and uses no backlight, eliminating the eyestrain and glare associated with other electronic displays such as computer monitors or PDA screens.

Download times for the Kindle are less than a minute and Amazon pays for the wireless connectivity for Kindle so there are no monthly wireless bills, data plans, or service commitments for customers.

Bezos said: "We also wanted to go beyond the physical book. Kindle is wireless, so whether you're lying in bed or riding a train, you can think of a book, and have it in less than 60 seconds.

"No computer is needed -- you do your shopping directly from the device. We're excited to make Kindle available today."

Available at launch will be newspapers and magazines in the US such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post; as well as international titles from France, Germany, and Ireland.

The Kindle store also has more than 300 blogs from Slashdot to TechCrunch, The Onion and The Huffington Post.

The launch is also being supported by authors such as Toni Morrison, Neil Gaiman, author of 'Stardust', and James Patterson, author of 'You've Been Warned'.

Patterson said: "The screen is fabulous. You would expect that, with a screen, there would be a glare, it would be hard to read but it's not.

"There's no glare. It's not backlit, which is kind of magical. I think people are going to be very, very surprised and delighted. This is a lot easier to read than a lot of books are these days."

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