Amazon could aim for college students with next Kindle

After seeing a high level of demand for its Kindle e-book reader, Amazon plans to market its newest Kindle to high school and college students tired of lugging around books in between classes.

"There are already several new, improved versions of the Kindle in the works," McAdams Wright Ragen analyst Tim Bueneman said.  "But AMZN has no plans, however, for an MP3 music audio version.  We guess the new version will have improved interface operating controls.  This has been an issue with some buyers."

A product weighing just 10.3 ounces and able to hold multiple text books could be appealing to college students who typically spend hundreds of dollars per semester on text books, then have to lug them around campus.  The college textbook business in the United States is a multi-billion dollar market that faces high fees because storage and upkeep of text books is expensive.

The most expensive part of text books traditionally has been paper, printing and editorial costs, which amount to 37 percent of the textbook's overall cost.  If more students began using digital e-books, it would be possible to cut the price of text books almost in half by the time they reach students.

Even though Amazon hasn't launched an expensive advertising campaign to sell Kindle, it has seen solid sales numbers relying strictly on word of mouth from Amazon customers who already own the e-book reader.

Unconfirmed reports estimate Amazon has shipped as many as 240,000 Kindles since last November, although Amazon has remained silent regarding exact sales figures.  It is unknown how these numbers were compiled, and Amazon said it had not been contacted for confirmation of the 240,000 sales figure.

Citigroup's Mark Mahaney believes Amazon will sell about 378,000 Kindle units before the end of 2008.

In May, the company dropped the Kindle's price from $399 down to $359, which likely helped increase sales further.  The device currently has more than 125,000 available books, with the addition of 5,000 more in June.  Expect more big things for the tech as it takes on the world of college textbooks.

"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki
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