Facing down more than 200 reporters from a skinny stage at the Morgan Library in New York City, Jeff Bezos and Stephen King unveiled Amazon’s Kindle 2–a .36 inch thick digital reader with 25 percent more battery life than the original. It will cost $359 and ships February 24.
The new device will last two weeks on a single charge, hold 1,500 books, and keep a reader’s place in-between digital reading devices. Bezos demonstrated the Kindle 2 with Cormac McCarthy‘s The Road–searching the meaning of the word “chary” on the Kindle’s dictionary.
King appeared at the conference, reading a scene from a short story he wrote in January about a “crisis point” between traditional and digital books. It contained a few pages of loving description of the Kindle.
The machine also has a text-to-speech function, turning any e-book into an audiobook. To demonstrate, Bezos had friendly robot voice read the Gettysburg Address. Amazon added USA Today and the New Yorker to the Kindle 2′s newspaper queue. UPDATE: An Amazon spokesperson explained that “Kindle sales make up more than 10 percent of sales of books that are available in both traditional and e-book form.”