Amazon introduced two versions of its third generation Kindle on Thursday – and fired a low-priced shot Jeff Bezos hopes will win a battle in the Great E-Reader War.
The company is pricing a new wif-fi-only version at $139, and a 3G version at $189. Previous versions have only been 3G.
The price point is a pointed departure from the $399 at which Amazon first introduced the Kindle in 2007.
The $139 price tag is also about $10 cheaper than the Wi-Fi version of the Nook, Barnes & Noble’s e-reader, and Sony’s Pocket Reader, which doesn’t connect to the Internet.
The cheapest version of Apple’s popular iPad is $499.
The new Kindles are 21 percent smaller, weigh 17 percent less (or 8.5 ounces) and offer double the storage of previous versions. They also boast higher contrast, crisper fonts and a longer battery life.
Amazon is taking pre-orders for the devices, which will ship in late August.
Bezos is bullish on the Kindle. While Amazon does not offer hard sales data for its e-reader, Bezos told the USA Today that Kindle book sales will surpass paperback sales within a year.
“I predict we will surpass paperback sales sometime in the next nine to 12 months,” Bezos said. “Sometime after that, we'll surpass the combination of paperback and hardcover. It stuns me. People forget that Kindle is only 33 months old.”
On Wednesday, Amazon said that Stieg Larsson — late Swedish author of international bestsellers "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played with Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" — is the first to sell over 1 million copies through Amazon's Kindle Store.