On Monday, Feb. 9th, Amazon released the Kindle 2.0 and this device is sleek. It is considerably smaller, thinner, and lighter than the original Kindle, but retains the same screen size. The internal processor has also been enhanced and produces significantly faster page turns, crisper looking images with support of 16 grayscales, and reduced power consumption (two weeks between battery charges is quite normal).
Management at Amazon also did something smart -- they actively sought the advice of the Kindle (and ebook) community in designing the Kindle 2. Representatives from Mobileread, Feedbooks, and Amazon's own community were provided prototypes, which were refined based on the communities recommendations.
Mobileread and Feedbooks also each provided 100 classic books that come preloaded on the 2G SD card included with Kindle 2. These books were hand-formatted for the Kindle and many contain stunning illustrations by Gustave Dore, C.B. Brock, and Hablot Browne (Phiz). [Amazon sends a special thanks to HarryT at Mobileread.] Amazon also provides over 8,000 books that are in the public domain for FREE in the Amazon Store website.
One feature the ebook community insisted Amazon include in the Kindle 2 was support for folders, although Amazon calls them "Shelves." The new Kindle allows users to arrange and browse their books by shelves. The shelves can be arranged by author, genre, publication century, and users can also add their own custom Tags to their books and arrange their shelves by these Tags.
The Kindle 2 comes in two versions -- one designed for the U.S. that has access to Amazon's Whispernet as provided by Sprint, and a second version for the International market that does not have Whispernet access. Instead of Whispernet, the International version comes with a Bluetooth connection. This allows International customers to purchase ebooks through their home computers and then use the Bluetooth connection to load the books on their Kindle.
Amazon is very much appreciative of the earlier adopters of the Kindle, and has decided to reward these valued customers by providing Kindle 1.0 owners who decide to upgrade within the next 60 days a $30 credit towards the purchase of Kindle books.
The price of the Kindle 2 has been significantly lowered to just $199. Jeff Bezos remarked, "We aren't making anything on the device at this price, but we want to get the Kindle 2 in as many hands as possible to help us grow our ebook business. Ebooks are without a doubt the future of this industry." Then with a smile Bezos continued, "Just wait till next year when we release the Kindle textbook version -- we're already in talks with several colleges and universities."