Amazon’s New E-Reader Lineup Focuses on Bargain Basement Prices

Not all of today’s surprises have been ruined. Amazon rolled out a new line of Kindles today, including a black-and-white touchscreen version for only $99.

The 3G touchscreen version will cost slightly more, at $149. Both will start shipping on Nov. 21, in time for the holidays.

Amazon also announced a $79 Kindle that doesn’t have a touchscreen. It will start shipping today. And then, of course, there’s the color version, called Fire, which will cost $199.

These prices are for models that will come with special offers. If users don’t want to see ads on their device’s homescreen, they’ll have to pay up to $40 more.

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos said today at the launch event in New York that it will sell “millions” of these lower-priced devices. “What we’re doing is making premium products and selling them at nonpremium prices,” he said.

According to Peter Kafka’s liveblog, the Kindle Touch is a black-and-white touchscreen device that will not only have a long battery life and store thousands of books, like earlier Kindle models, but will also enable users to change pages with a swipe of the finger.

“People are going to love this device,” Bezos said, citing its lighter, “unbelievable” build quality.

Bezos compared it to the Nook’s touchscreen system, which doesn’t work for one-handed reading. Amazon is calling its method for changing pages “EasyReach.” It features new “tap zones,” which have designated areas on the screen for tapping to the next or previous page, or tapping for the menu.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

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