When I arrived at Pace University at 9:30 this morning in lower Manhattan, the line was already snaking down the side of the building. The crowd, gathered to witness the announcement of a third version of Amazon’s Kindle electronic reader, was feverishly tapping at gadgets galore and every so often stepping out of line to take camera phone shots of the assembled group. It seemed their excitement had gotten the best of them, and that even this mundane sight seemed to merit capturing for posterity.
Once inside the auditorium’s lobby, the throng of tech bloggers erupted into a frenzy. They interviewed each other on Flip video cameras and perched at bistro tables, posting the tech world’s version of a “pre-game show” to websites. I saw delegates from blogs like TechCrunch and Engadget, which leaked early photos of the new Kindle yesterday. On the fringes, folks with name-tags that read “Amazon guest” stood taking it all. The guests I spoke to said they were from book publishers whose offerings included textbooks.
When we were finally led into the auditorium, there was a dash for the front row seats. Soft rock hits from the seventies and eighties piped into the room. Once settled in, the bloggers pulled up their Twitter accounts and began posting dispatches, announcing them aloud to one another. The camera phones were out again, capturing the empty stage and a screen with the Amazon.com logo.
Finally, just after 10:30, the Jeff Bezos show began. The Amazon CEO bid everyone good morning and then opened with his trademark phrase: “Every book, ever printed, in any language, available in less than 60 seconds.” After giving a brief history of the Kindle since its 2007 launch–still no numbers on total Kindles sold–Bezos held up the Kindle DX, which has a screen more than twice the size of the existing Kindle. In a fireworks of flashbulbs, the bloggers typed furiously away. This is the way news is distributed in today’s world. Can the Kindle be part of this new era? We will soon find out. Click here for more on the Kindle DX. –Jessica Shambora