Stephen King Horror Story Promotes Amazon Kindle 2

Thinner, sharper and talkie book reader next step in tentative attack on traditional books

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There is something appropriate about a Stephen King horror story helping promote the new Kindle that Amazon has announced. The sudden success of the Kindle has to be terrorizing traditional book sellers like the rabid St. Bernard that stalked a poor family in King's Cujo.

A new King novella will be available exclusively on the Kindle 2, which Amazon says has longer battery life, faster page turns, seven times the storage, sharper images and will read books out loud. All that and it's slimmer than the first Kindle, which sold out its limited run after Oprah Winfrey endorsed it last fall.

Still, Amazon itself has much at stake with traditional books. That may explain why the Kindle remains so pricey. It looks like a great device. But only a few of us will spend that much for a single-purpose gadget, especially one that's meant to be portable and easily lost or broken. And Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has made clear that he'll keep the Kindle focused on reading.

It reeks of more experimenting than commitment to a revolution. But you can bet that publishers and bookstore owners are watching with eyes wide open.