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Amazon announced today that its new Kindle e-book readers are the best-selling Kindles ever — which doesn’t come as a huge surprise, since the new Wi-Fi-only version of the device is also the cheapest ever, retailing for $139.
The company also reported that more users ordered the new Kindles on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk than any other product combined. That too isn’t surprising — it’s been the best-selling product on Amazon for the past two years. Given that the site has been the only place to buy Kindles for some time, I wouldn’t expect any less. Target stores will soon offer the Kindle as well, but I don’t suspect that will do much to displace it as the top-selling product on Amazon.
Amazon began shipping out pre-orders for the new Kindles today, two days earlier than it originally planned.
As I’ve written previously, the new Kindle will come in graphite (like the Kindle DX) and white, is 21 percent smaller, and will feature the same 6-inch E Ink screen as previous models. In addition to the $139 Wi-Fi model, there’s also a $189 Kindle with 3G. While not much has changed with the basic screen technology, Amazon promises that page turns will be faster. Battery-wise, it will run for a month with no wireless capabilities turned on, and 10 days with wireless. Since you won’t always need wireless connectivity, real-world battery life will rest somewhere in between those suggested battery times. The Kindle’s on-board storage has also been doubled from 2GB to 4GB, which will let it hold up to 3,500 books.
Amazon also sped up the web browser by moving to the Webkit framework, the browser engine currently used in Safari and Google Chrome. It also features a new “article mode” that lets users simplify web pages into text-based versions better suited for the Kindle.
That the Kindle is still selling like hotcakes is a clear sign that the e-reader market has quite a bit of life left in it — despite the popularity of the iPad, and the inevitable release of cheaper tablets in the coming months. Clearly, consumers want a device solely focused on reading — and the Kindle offers the most mature hardware, and the largest e-book library.