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Oprah cuddles Kindle

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Oprah Winfrey is set to report that her favourite gadget is Amazon's Kindle e-book reader, and she's invited Amazon founded Jeff Bezos onto her show to explain why it's good to read electric.

The fact that the queen of chat would soon be revealing her perfect battery-powered companion was revealed in teaser videos, but one blog noticed Amazon had put enough text into their XML meta-headings to reveal the truth, a truth which has now been confirmed by an email sent to subscribers reporting Jeff's appearance.

The Kindle, for those who don't get Newsweek, is an electronic book reader- using electronic ink to display easily-readable text. It also features a cellular connection used to update publications - basically a mobile phone without voice - which enables subscribers to automatically get updated magazines and such. For more arcane reasons the Kindle also features a keyboard.

Getting onto Oprah, in such good time for Christmas, is something of a coup for Amazon. Given the impact the lady has on book sales thanks to her own massively popular book club, it's hard to overestimate the value of her endorsement.

Quite how well the Kindle is selling is very debatable - Amazon won't share any figures beyond telling analysts that estimates of over a quarter of a million being sold during 2008 were "extremely high".

Back in June Prime View International, who make screens for the Kindle as well as Sony's competing reader, were predicting that they'd be shipping 120,000 screens a month, with 60 per cent of those going to Amazon - which would predict sales figures closer to a million during 2008.

Of course, all that was before the world economy went to shit, and consumers who previously thought e-ink was a cool idea might balk when it comes down to a choice between an electronic book and food on the table. (Does no one go to libraries anymore?) So an endorsement from Oprah can only be a good thing for a technology that desperately needs to get into the mainstream before the early adopters run out of cash. ®

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