Reuters and others are reporting that Amazon.com is expected to unveil a new version of the Kindle electronic reader on Monday.
While the Kindle is a tiny part of Amazon’s web retail business, it gets a ton of buzz, and a new version has been much speculated about on the web. The question is whether mainstream consumers are really ready to buy it, particularly in the current economic environment.
“We think Kindle will be an interesting product which the high-end consumers love, particularly investment bankers traveling in from Connecticut,” Bernstein Research’s Jeffrey Lindsay says in the Reuters story. ”We don’t think it will be a large penetration object any time soon.”
To help with mainstreamers, the Wall Street Journal writes, Amazon is also expected to say it has acquired a new work by best-selling novelist Stephen King that will be available exclusively, at least for a time, on Kindle.
“Many publishers have long feared that Amazon would persuade a major author to write for its Kindle on an exclusive basis. Although retailers such as Barnes & Noble Inc. have long published their own books, they have struggled to find distribution outside their own stores. But Amazon has already proven that it can sell as many Kindles as it can manufacture. Indeed, Amazon is working to overcome the supply problems that have plagued the device,” says the Journal.