Newspaper article International New York Times

A Dramatic (and Expensive) Shift in E-Readers

Newspaper article International New York Times

A Dramatic (and Expensive) Shift in E-Readers

Article excerpt

The new $289 Kindle Oasis e-reader has an asymmetrical shape meant to mimic a book, and includes a case with a battery that extends charge time for months.

When Amazon introduced the Kindle, its pioneering e-reader, in 2007, society was on the cusp of being changed by mobile devices.

The iPhone had only just come out, and in the years to come smartphones and tablets asserted themselves as the primary devices for people who wanted to communicate, play games, browse the web and get stuck in the flytrap of social media.

But Amazon's Kindles, which now seem quaint in their singular focus on reading, found their niche. And on Wednesday, the company introduced its eighth-generation Kindle for people willing to pay a tidy sum for an ultra-lightweight device that is meant for reading and not much else.

The product, Kindle Oasis, will cost $289, placing it at the very top of Amazon's family of e-readers. The previous top-of-the-line e- reader, Kindle Voyage, is $200. The Kindle Oasis is very light, weighing 4.6 ounces -- about 20 percent less than any other Kindle. For comparison, the latest iPad Mini is more than 10 ounces.

Amazon is charging a premium for the Kindle Oasis because it comes with a leather case containing a battery that significantly extends the charge time of the device. Magnets in the battery pack on the cover solidly click together with the Kindle Oasis. With the cover, the Kindle Oasis gets "months and months" of battery life, more than any other device in the family. Without it, it lasts weeks, Amazon says.

In an interview at Amazon's headquarters last week, David Limp, the senior vice president in charge of the company's devices business, said that Amazon's Kindle business was still growing, despite all the challenges it faced from other mobile devices.

Mr. Limp said there was enduring appeal for a dedicated reading device that is a sanctuary from the hailstorm of distractions on other gadgets. …

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