According to sources close to Amazon, the online retail giant is set to debut a larger version of its Kindle reader — and the supersized version could be out as early as this week. This will be music to the ears of dead-tree press publishers, who have been pushing for a more newspaper-friendly version. In fact, several of them have been working alongside tech companies such as Plastic Logic, who are behind the A4-sized version seen above. Both Sony, which has developed a wireless device that downloads daily content, and Apple (gossips have been speculating for some time about a multipurpose tablet computer similar to the iPhone) are said to be in the race.
The reason for this stems from the publishing companies' need to maximize their revenue from their online operations. Many of them see a large-scale reader as a way of charging people for electronic content. When the Mark II version of the Kindle came out earlier this year, it wasn't hard to see what features were lacking — a larger, color screen that would make newspaper and magazine reading easier. If, however, the rumors are correct and we see a bigger Kindle available this week, not every section of the publishing industry will be cock-a-hoop. Tom Wallace, the editorial director of Condé Nast, remains sanguine about it all. "I don't think we would be anywhere near as excited about anything in black and white as we would about high-definition color," he told The New York Times. "But technology changes at a pretty high clip these days, and if we are now in the Farmer Gray days, it will be only a very short while until we are in the video-game era."
With many newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times and the LA Times filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, some publishing execs are seeing a large-scale e-reader as the answer to their prayers. "All of us are very worried about how newspapers are going to survive in the next few years if we don't see any turnaround in the economy," says Roger Fidler, program director for digital publishing at the University of Missouri, Columbia. He went on to add, however, that the changeover might be long and protracted. "If these devices had been ready for the general consumer market five years ago, we probably could have taken advantage of them quickly. Now the earliest we might see large-scale consumer adoption is next year, and unlike the iPod it's going to be a slower process migrating people from print to the device."