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× Launches Wireless Reader

New York — today introduced its own portable wireless reader that downloads books, newspapers, magazines and blogs over Sprint’s EV-DO cellular network. No subscriptions for the wireless connectivity are required.

The paperback-sized product, dubbed Kindle, uses e Ink Corporation’s electronic ink and paper technology to display text and black-and-white images on a reflective 6-inch, 600 by 800-pixel screen that eliminates glare and helps prevent eyestrain, the e-tailer said. The Linux-based device weighs 10.3 ounces, can store 200 titles on its 250 MB of onboard flash memory, and its battery can hold a charge for two days with the wireless feature on and seven days with it off, Amazon said. The reader is made by a Chinese OEM and can be purchased on for $399.

Content is available at Amazon’s new Kindle Store, where users can browse, buy and download over 90,000 books and hundreds of newspapers, magazines and blogs using the reader’s keypad, scroll wheel and push-button interface. Newly released books and New York Times Best Sellers sell for $9.99, and subscriptions to periodicals run from $1.25 to $14.99 per month. Purchases take about a minute to download, Amazon said, and the direct 3G connection requires no PC, Wi-Fi hot spot or syncing. Amazon said it is absorbing the cost of Whispernet, the e-tailer’s proprietary wireless network that piggyback’s on Sprint’s EV-DO platform.

“The focus was on making it easy to use,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, at a launch event here this morning. To that end, the device requires no additional software and is ready to use out of the box. It can also store and play MP3 files, receive email with text and image attachments, has a headphone jack and speaker, and can accept up to 4GB of external memory through an SD card slot.

Users can increase and decrease the font size of the text, and can add annotations or bookmarks using the keyboard. The unit comes preloaded with the New Oxford American Dictionary, and all purchased content also resides on Amazon servers, allowing users to delete titles from the device to free up space and retrieve them at a latter date.

Publishers and authors can also submit their content and make it available to Kindle customers by using Amazon’s new digital text platform, a self-publishing tool that lets anyone upload and sell their books in the Kindle Store.

Kindle, which took three years to develop, goes head to head against Sony’s second-generation Sony Reader, a $300 PC-centric device that was introduced last month.