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Amazon Rolls Out Its New Kindle E-Readers


A new line of tablet readers is at the top of NPR's business news.


INSKEEP: They come from Amazon, which is rolling out its latest Kindle e-readers. They are faster, we're told, as well as cheaper. And as NPR's Steve Henn reports, they're aimed squarely at the youngest members of the family.

STEVE HENN, BYLINE: The new Kindles have lots of upgrades. The cheapest sells for just $69 dollars, and some offer a new screen that allows you to read in the dark or in bright sun. There's also a new, bigger tablet meant take on the iPad. But when you push past all the specs and gizmos, something that's pretty consistent across all of these devices is that they're aimed - at least in part- at children.

JEFF BEZOS: I have four kids. Kids love screens.

HENN: Jeff Bezos is Amazon's CEO. He says that he pushed for some new features with his own family in mind.

BEZOS: Parents have this strange notion that kids should sometimes do something else, like go outside.

HENN: So the Kindle Fire comes with parental controls. For instance, you can set a time limit on games or movies, but let you kids read as much as they want. As a dad, my favorite time of day is reading aloud, but now I might have to compete with Samuel L. Jackson for the honor.

This Kindle also can mix different kinds of media together. One feature lets you combine an audio book with the text on the screen.


SAMUEL L. JACKSON: Whenever anyone looked at him suspiciously, he quoted from Revelation.

HENN: The Kindle will highlight were you are so your kids could read along. Still, I won't be leaving my kids alone with the new gadget anytime soon. Some of the games have ads actually built into the app, and these ads let you order real stuff from Amazon's online store in just one click. Amazon says its parental controls can fix that, too, but in my case, I might need my kid to show me how to use them.

Steve Henn, NPR News, Silicon Valley. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Henn is NPR's technology correspondent based in Menlo Park, California, who is currently on assignment with Planet Money. An award winning journalist, he now covers the intersection of technology and modern life - exploring how digital innovations are changing the way we interact with people we love, the institutions we depend on and the world around us. In 2012 he came frighteningly close to crashing one of the first Tesla sedans ever made. He has taken a ride in a self-driving car, and flown a drone around Stanford's campus with a legal expert on privacy and robotics.