The text-to-speech feature of the Kindle 2 in one of the main features that Amazon was touting when they debuted their latest e-book reader. However, Roy Blount, Jr., president of the Author’s Guild, made it immediately known that the Guild objects to the feature that he believes undermines the market for professional e-book. While this is overly cautious, since the Kindle sounds nothing like a real human being, Amazon has decided to step up (or back down?) and allow book publishers and authors the right to allow their works to be compatible with the text-to-speech feature or not. We are hoping that most will see that it’s harmless, and just allows folks to enjoy their work in a different way, albeit on the same device. You can read Amazon’s full statement after the jump.
This morning at a press conference from the Morgan Library, Amazon finally announced the long-awaited Kindle 2 e-book reader. The updated version will cost $359, and sports quite a few worthy improvements. First, it is much thinner than the original Kindle at just .36-inches thin. Yes, that is just about as thin as a #2 pencil, and thinner than an iPhone. It also sports 7 times more storage than the original, which means it can hold over 1,500 books. Battery life is 25% longer as well, which means you should be able to go a couple of weeks between charges.
When it comes to actually, you know, reading, the display is what matters. Luckily, Amazon improved that as well, as the new display can display 16 shades of gray, which results in clearer text and crisper images. By far, though, we think the biggest feature is the one they are calling Read to Me. It is a text-to-speech feature that lets the Kindle read any book, magazine, blog, or newspaper out loud to you. Kind of cool.
As we said, the new Kindle will sell for $359, and it starts shipping on February 24th. They are sold on a first come, first served basis, but if you are a Kindle 1 owner and order before midnight PST on February 10th, you will receive first priority. You can order one now at the Kindle 2 product page on Amazon.