Amazon launches wireless book reader "Kindle"

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NEW YORK, Nov 20 (Reuters) Online retailer Amazon.com said on Monday it will begin selling an electronic book reader with wireless access, the latest attempt to build consumer interest in portable reading devices.

The battery-operated Amazon Kindle will sell for 399 dollars and let users download books, newspapers and blogs over a wireless connection. It can carry about 200 books downloaded from Amazon.com at about 10 dollars for new releases.

Wireless functionalities, based on cell phone broadband technology EVDO, are built into the 10-ounce, thin white device.

Downloading content does not require a computer and takes less than a minute for a full-length book, the company said.

''The question is can you improve upon something as highly evolved and well-suited to its task as the book? And if so, how?,'' Amazon.com Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said at a press conference in New York. ''It has to disappear.'' Like a book, the device's screen is not back-lit and uses electronic ink to mimic paper. An e-book reader offered by Sony Corp employs similar technology, but does not include wireless access.

The service will also offer subscriptions to newspapers, magazines and blogs for a monthly fee. Subscriptions to newspapers such as the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal range from 5.99 to 14.99 dollars. Magazine subscriptions range from 1.25 dollars to 3.49 per month.

Amazon will also offer subscriptions to blogs that cost about 99 cents.

Amazon shares rose 35 cents to 78.95 dollars in morning trading on the Nasdaq.

REUTERS ARB RN0825

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