Amazon to unveil e-book reader on Monday

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Online retailer Inc AMZN.O plans to unveil its closely-guarded electronic book reader in New York on Monday, a source told Reuters.

A worker loads a shipment of outgoing boxes at the warehouse facility in New Castle, Delaware, November 24, 2006. Online retailer Inc plans to introduce its highly anticipated electronic book device at a New York event Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing two people familiar with the company's plans. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

News the retailer planned to launch its mobile reader was first reported on the CNET Web site and was confirmed to Reuters by a source close to the launch.

Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos is expected to attend the launch.

Although the idea of reading books electronically with a hand-held device has been around for some time, it has not caught on yet with the mainstream in the way listening to digital music, or even videos has. Sony Corp 6758.T already sells an e-book device called the Sony Reader, which is just smaller than a paperback book.

E-books are a niche market, said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Scott Devitt. But what is more significant about the book reader from Amazon is what the future could look like.

“With wireless connectivity and Amazon’s mp3 platform, and Amazon Unbox with the improvements in Wi-Fi speeds over time, the capacity to use this as an all-in device that connects to Amazon for all of its Amazon platform is a significant opportunity,” Devitt said.

In recent years, Amazon, which began as an online book seller, has been beefing up its digital platform, offering services such as downloadable videos and music in order to remain relevant in an increasingly digital age.

According to CNET, a Web site that provides reviews and news about technology, the “Kindle” is equipped with a Wi-Fi connection that can access Amazon’s e-book store, where users purchase new electronic books. CNET said the final price of the Kindle is expected to be $399.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation.

CNET said the Kindle comes with a headphone jack for audiobooks, as well as an e-mail address.

The device also includes a feature enabling users to download digital editions of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal each morning, CNET said.

Devitt said there could be a big market for such a device if Amazon made deals with major publications. CNET reported that between 50 and 100 newspapers had already signed deals with the company.

“If you think of carrying a device with you that has all your newspapers in it ... and especially if it downloads and stores, that could be a big market,” Devitt added.

CNET also said Amazon had been looking to sign a deal for the launch so a hot book title could be bundled with the e-book reader.

Reporting by Alexandria Sage; additional reporting by Justin Grant in New York; editing by Andre Grenon