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Amazon big-screen Kindle sails this week

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Amazon is just days away from busting out a new large-screen Kindle e-reader designed to better replicate old-media newspapers, magazines, and textbooks.

The New York Times was first to report a jumbo Kindle arriving as early as this week, citing "people briefed on on the online retailer's plans." Amazon has since scheduled a press conference in New York City for Wednesday morning. The last Amazon press event debuted the Kindle 2.

The upcoming jumbo-sized Kindle is rumored to have dimensions closer to a standard A4 sheet of paper so publishers don't have to trim down their layouts for more diminutive mobile devices.

Large e-readers also carry the hopes and dreams of print media publishers hoping to charge subscription rates for digital periodicals — even though they've been giving away the same content online for years. Apparently, the device's larger size makes it easier to beat the genie back into the bottle.

The NYT's report claims news organizations, including The new York Times itself, are expected to be involved with the introduction of the device (such as, perhaps, breaking the news on a new biggie Kindle?)

Textbook publishers may also get in the big e-reader racket by banking on college students' oh-so solid reputation for purchasing their digital media legally.

Amazon may be the first to market with a big-screen reader, but it's hardly the only company concocting such a device. Hearst Corp. is teaming with Plastic Logic on a skinny, lightweight ebook reader, while News Corp. is reportedly working on one of their own.

Digital distribution would be cheaper than writing on pulp, but the cost savings is almost definately not going to save old-media publishing by itself. Perhaps Amazon's real hook for a big Kindle is the educational market. Textbook publishers would certainly love to kill the used-textbook market by loading digital copies with DRM and the like. The scheme could work too, assuming they're willing to sell e-textbooks for significantly less than traditional print copies to tempt students into the initial purchase. And that's a big if. ®

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