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Kindle 2.0

As far as I know the Kindle, Amazon’s e-reader thingo, isn’t actually available in Australia. But in the US, the second generation Kindle has just been launched. Here’s its features:

Version 2 is sleeker, 25% thinner, Bezos said, than the size of the #1 bestselling phone (probably an iPhone, but of course, Bezos doesn’t name a product from his rival, Apple.) Its buttons are less obtrusive and more easily manageable – removing the Fisher Price See-and-Spell feeling of the original. It offers improved graphics and more storage – up to 1500 books, Bezos says. And the battery – which seemed weak in the old version – will reportedly hold its charge for two weeks.

The biggest advance, without doubt, however was the audio feature. Apparently now, “when you’re cooking in the kitchen,” as Bezos said, you can push a button and have the book that you were just reading read itself to you.

Which would, I guess, be kinda cool. But all the technological wizardry can’t hide the most depressing part of the story — ‘the average American reader, according to many studies, reads between two and six books a year’.

No gadget, no matter how sleek, will turn non-readers into readers.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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Jeff Sparrow is the former editor of Overland. He is the co-author (with Jill Sparrow) of Radical Melbourne: A Secret History and Radical Melbourne 2: The Enemy Within, the editor (with Antony Loewenstein) of Left Turn: Essays for the New Left and the author of Communism: a love story, Killing: Misadventures in violence, and Money Shot: A Journey into Censorship and Porn.  On Twitter, he's @Jeff_Sparrow.

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