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The next of Kindle

After much fevered expectation on the part of tech-heads, nerds, and people with money to burn, the new Star Trek movie big-ass version of the Kindle has finally arrived.

From the Financial Times:

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, on Wednesday unveiled a new larger format version of its Kindle e-reader, selling for $489, which it says is more suited for reading newspapers, academic periodicals and text books.

The launch of the reader is being supported by the New York Times, Boston Globe and Washington Post, which are launching pilots this summer that will offer the Kindle at a reduced price to readers 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.

Sam Grobart at The New York Times‘ Gadgetwise blog wonders why he can’t just try the damn thing out before buying it:

The new Kindle looks impressive, but wouldn’t consumers (and, for that matter, Amazon) be better served if they could handle it before ordering it? I’m not suggesting that Amazon start opening stores “ that would be antithetical to the whole nature of the company. But how about a few demo kiosks in major cities (here in New York, you could set up in, say, Grand Central Station or Times Square). No Kindles would be sold there, but you could place an order after checking one out. Or cut a deal with Wal-Mart, Sears, Starbucks or some other national retailer where you could set up kiosks.

Gawker’s Owen Thomas, meanwhile, declares the device mostly okay for what it is, but a bad sign for the newspapers who are helping push it:

The Kindle DX is a fair-looking device ” homely in the way that every gadget not made by Apple inevitably is, but passably designed. But will it save newspapers? No. And Bezos is hedging his bets, even as he has managed to scare the press lords into shelling out their precious remaining cash into funding the distribution of his pricey e-reader. Today, he hawked the Kindle DX as a means for reading textbooks, sheet music, novels, and science journals. Newspapers are just one checkbox in a long list of features ” and yet he’s cajoled the gullible likes of [New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger] into handing him a pile of cash.

And it’s not like Amazon needs the money. It’s a steady cash generator ” especially for Bezos himself. On Friday, he sold $63 million in Amazon shares. On Monday, as news of the Kindle leaked, he sold another $16 million. If he’s such a big believer in supporting journalism, why didn’t Bezos announce he was personally giving away 160,000 Kindles to people who agreed to sign up for a newspaper subscription? He could afford it.