For Amazon, Kindle DX's Big Prize Is Textbooks

has finally arrived honeymoon over for Kindle DX

The facts are in hand: The Kindle DX measures 9.7 inches diagonally, making it two-and-a-half times larger than the Kindle 2, and will sell for $489. Pre-orders are happening already and the e-reader will begin shipping this summer, according to Amazon, which made the official announcement Wednesday morning at Pace University in New York.

The earliest Kindle DX speculation centered on the idea of Kindle DX being designed for newspapers and magazines, and indeed, three major newspapers -- The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post -- have, according to Amazon, all signed on to pilot reduced-price digital subscriptions through Kindle DX.

But as the details were confirmed this morning, one thing became clear: Kindle DX's big prize is the textbook market.

"This is absolutely the big win," said Sarah Rotman Epps, a media services analyst for Forrester Research, in a interview. "Amazon's announcement that they're partnering with 60 percent of the textbook publishers is significant, because the textbook market is significantly larger than the market for book e-readers. It's not enough for Amazon to just have a bigger device. There are 12 million college students and 50 million grade school students in the U.S., and textbooks are expensive -- think about the savings and how much money is spent on textbooks. That's huge money that Amazon's Kindle can help save."

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Rotman Epps agreed that Amazon is hardly the only big winner with the Kindle DX. Kindle DX features a built-in PDF reader using Adobe Mobile Technology, for example.

"Adobe is enabling the entire e-reader ecosystem," Rotman Epps said. "They're with not just Amazon, but all of Amazon's competitors, too."

As Kindle DX emerges and Amazon continues to consolidate its e-reader marketplace dominance, expect its many competitors to come at it "from numerous directions," she said.

"Amazon has built this device to benefit Amazon," she said. "They want to be the Apple of publishing. If you think about what Apple did for music, Amazon's trying to set up a similar system. Publishers are of course going to play with Amazon but also anyone who can set up a model where they [the publishers] keep more of the revenue. One thing Amazon didn't mention this morning is an advertising model for ad-supported revenue [products] like newspapers and magazines. That's probably because there isn't one yet."

Rotman Epps said to watch for a number of would-be Kindle killers coming to the fore in the next year, with "every competitor in the consumer electronics market" wanting a piece of e-reading and e-books.

Don't discount ostensible second bananas such as Sony, Rotman Epps cautioned. Sony's eReader might have taken a backseat to Kindle in the popular limelight so far, because "what Amazon has over Sony is the relationship with consumers. You think books, you think"

"But Sony has a more favorable position in Europe and Asia," she added. "There are newer companies coming on, too, and I can't say if they'll ever be as big as Amazon, but they'll at least put pressure on Amazon to keep prices down and force more innovation in the market."

And how about another Amazon e-reading competitor that also starts with an "A"?

"Apple is a player in this market whether it's admitting it is or not," Rotman Epps said. "The Lexcycle app, Stanza, has been downloaded to the iPhone more than a million times, which is part of what drove Amazon to acquire it. Whatever Apple is plotting -- a 10-inch tablet or some device -- it doesn't matter. People are already using their iPhones to read books and they'll certainly do it on a larger device. But there is still a market for dedicated reading devices like Kindle. The experience of reading on an electronic ink screen is so much more pleasant than an LCD screen."