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More Details Emerging On Large-Screen Amazon Kindle

Amazon might have not only periodicals, but also textbooks in its Kindle crosshairs.

large-screen e-reading device

Late on Monday, however, a report in The Wall Street Journal quoting "people familiar with the matter" said that description might not be quite right, or at least incomplete. According to the Journal, what's coming is a large-screen Kindle designed not only for periodicals, but also for textbooks -- which if true could give Amazon a reach straight into the pockets of textbook publishers nationwide.

The newspaper quoted a CIO from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland on plans to give incoming freshman large-screen Kindles pre-loaded with textbooks for chemistry, computer science and a freshman seminar. Case Western, according to the report, is one of six universities involved in the project, along with Princeton University, Reed College, Darden School at the University of Virginia, Arizona State University, and Pace University, whose New York City campus will be the site of an Amazon press conference this Wednesday.

The Journal report also states that Arthur Sulzberger, New York Times publisher, will be part of the press conference, although The New York Times itself wouldn't comment. The Times was the first outlet to report on the rumored new Kindle on Monday.

Regardless of the new Kindle's intended audience, the bigger question is how much of an impact a large-format Kindle would actually have on the ailing print periodicals industry. Sure, publishers of newspapers and magazines could charge for subscriptions to their content and save a lot of money on printing costs. But for magazines, especially, the spare, black-and-white formats of the present Kindles and most other e-reading devices wouldn't have the same visual effect as, say, a glossy photo spread. And why would subscribers pay a premium for news over their Kindle when they could read it at a newspaper or magazine's Web site, free of charge in most cases?

Besides, it's not as if a large format Kindle from Amazon wouldn't have competition. Not only are e-reader manufacturers like Plastic Logic and media companies like Hearst Corp. said to have skin in the large-format e-reader game, but Amazon Kindle's biggest threat could be from Apple, whose rumored multipurpose tablet, said to be debuting at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in June, could be the first true "Kindle killer."

There are a lot of rumors -- from Apple's working on a larger version of the iPhone with a 9-or-more-inch touchscreen, to Apple's working on a tablet-style MacBook. But the idea of an all-in-one Apple device that includes e-reading capabilities, a touch screen, a direct pipeline to the Apple App Store and a large-display Web browser would probably be enough to trounce a Kindle or any other device with only a few of those features.

Despite Amazon's dominance, the e-book and e-reading wars are far from over.

Are you a Kindle adopter? Why or why not? Would you buy a newspaper or magazine subscription for any mobile device? Let Chad know at cberndtson@everythingchannel.com.

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