Amazon unveils Kindle eBook device

Electronic book will allow users to download electronic content straight to the device via wireless, with books, newspapers, magazines and even blogs on offer...for a price.

Online retailer Amazon has launched its highly-anticipated electronic book reader with wireless access, the latest attempt to build consumer interest in portable reading devices.

The battery-operated Amazon Kindle will sell for $399 (199) in the US at first, with an international launch to follow shortly. It will let users download books, newspapers and blogs over a wireless connection. It can carry about 200 books downloaded from Amazon.com at about $10 for new releases.

Wireless functionalities, based on US mobile phone broadband technology EVDO, are built into the 10-ounce, thin white device. Downloading content does not require a computer and takes less than a minute for a full-length book, the company said.

"The question is can you improve upon something as highly evolved and well-suited to its task as the book? And if so, how?" Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said at a press conference in New York. "It has to disappear."

Like a book, the device's screen is not back-lit and uses electronic ink to mimic paper. An e-book reader offered by Sony employs similar technology, but does not include wireless access.

The service will also offer subscriptions to newspapers, magazines and blogs for a monthly fee. Subscriptions to newspapers such as the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal range from $5.99 (3) to $14.99 (7.50). Magazine subscriptions range from $1.25 (62.5p) to $3.49 (1.75) per month.

Amazon will also offer subscriptions to blogs that cost about 99 cents (50p).

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