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article imageAmazon revamps its budget Kindle to reverse falling e-book sales

By James Walker     Jun 22, 2016 in Technology
Amazon has announced a new version of its base model Kindle e-reader. The budget device has been updated with a lighter design and improved performance. The changes are designed to attract more people to Kindle as e-readers stagnate.
The new Kindle enters the range at the $79.99 price point, making it the most affordable model available. It replaces the current basic Kindle which has the same price tag. According to Amazon, readers will now be able to get more from their books through new features and a faster interface, creating a more enjoyable reading experience.
The new Kindle has a thinner and lighter design so it is more comfortable to hold for longer reading periods. It has rounded sides for use with one hand and a high-contrast touchscreen display that eliminates glare even when held in direct sunlight. Black and white colour options are available.
Amazon has doubled the Kindle's memory, increasing it to 512MB. This should improve performance when reading large books and browsing through multiple layers of menus. For the first time, the e-reader also includes Bluetooth to allow visually impaired people to listen to books using a wireless headset.
The software has also received attention. There is a new personalised home screen that allows you to find new books, manage Amazon Wish Lists and see Goodread recommendations from a single screen. The interface has been updated and navigation controls refined.
Notes and highlights made on books can now be exported directly from Kindle. You can email yourself a printable PDF or a file that can be opened using spreadsheet software. You'll be able to share your annotations with other people, a feature that could be particularly useful to reading clubs and groups.
"Tens of millions of readers around the world have Kindle e-readers and today, we're excited to make our most affordable Kindle even better, while keeping the same breakthrough price point," said Arthur van Rest, General Manager of Kindle. "With a thinner and lighter design, twice the memory, and all the features customers love about Kindle, it has never been a better time to be a reader."
Amazon's most affordable Kindle yet comes two months after it launched its most expensive model to date. In April, it unveiled the Kindle Oasis, an ergonomically designed e-reader that can last for months on a single charge and features a 60% brighter display. It retails for $289.99.
The $79.99 base model will be much more attractive to most people. By releasing a new device at this price point, Amazon may be able to draw new customers to e-readers from real books.
After a strong start, e-readers are now largely in decline amid a resurgence of demand for printed materials. E-book sales fell for the first time during 2015 as consumers are beginning to turn away from devices like the Kindle.
Last year, Waterstones, one of the UK's largest book sellers, turned its back on the Kindle entirely, branding sales "pitiful" as demand for books surged upwards. It has removed Kindles from all of its stores, using the display space for paperbacks and hardbacks instead.
Amazon will be hoping the new budget Kindle can do something to reverse this trend. It is available for worldwide pre-order today for $79.99. Shipments will begin in the coming weeks.
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