Amazon also has included a new 250,000-word dictionary in Kindle 2 so users can automatically look up words using its five-way navigational button.
Like Kindle 1, users can purchase and download books and newspapers for the new device on the Kindle Store via Amazon Whisphernet, the company's wireless delivery system. Most books are US$9.99 or less, and Amazon covers the cost of wireless connectivity so users don't have to pay monthly for a separate wireless account on the device. This also eliminates the need for a PC, Wi-Fi hotspot or any syncing in order to download content to the device.
Amazon unveiled the Kindle in November 2007. Interest at first was lacklustre, but about a year after its release US talk-show host and media mogul Oprah Winfrey promoted the device, which sent sales surging. Amazon couldn't handle the demand her endorsement inspired and Kindle 1 has been out of stock since November.
Kindle 2 is available for preorder in the US now for $359, the same price as its predecessor. Shipping will begin Feb. 24. UK pricing and availability has yet to be announced.
Amazon also is offering a special deal for US-based owners of Kindle 1. If they order the new device before midnight local time tomorrow night, they will get priority over other buyers of the device. Again, whether this deal will be offered in the UK has yet to be announced.
With the Kindle, Amazon hopes to change the publishing industry the way Apple changed the music industry with the iPod. Bezos said the company's ultimate goal with the device is to have "every book ever printed in any language, all available [for download] in less than 60 seconds."
As it stands, there are now 230,000 books available on the Kindle, with 40,000 of those being made available in the last three months alone.
The USA Today newspaper and The New Yorker magazine are now available for the device, Bezos said. Kindle users already can download the New York Times, the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal newspapers.
By Monday's launch, photos and details about Kindle 2 were already all over the Web, having been leaked via various blogs over the weekend.