Amazon Quietly Retires the Kindle DX – Again

Amazon'sKindle DX (graphite) Angle-Hand on again off again flirtation with large screen ebook readers appears to have cooled off once more.There's been no announcement from the retail middleweight, but news is circulating today that the Kindle DX is out of stock at Amazon.com with no mention of when it will return. The Kindle DX is still available via 3rd-party retailers, but none are listed as being fulfilled by Amazon, so I doubt that the device is coming back.

And that's a shame, because I had been hoping Amazon would release a new KDX with a higher resolution screen, more features, and other improvements.

Originally launched in May 2009, the Kindle DX was Amazon's first bid to enter the academic market. The KDX was the first Kindle model to directly support PDFs, and Amazon hoped that the KDX's larger 9.7" screen would work as an adequate replacement for paper textbooks.

Unfortunately for Amazon, the pilot programs they arranged showed just how wrong they were. As part of promoting the initial release of the Kindle DX, Amazon convinced a number of major US universities to launch digital textbook pilot programs based on the ereader, and they did not go well.

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The pilots pretty consistently showed that the Kindle DX is too slow and too feature limited to work well with textbooks. Universities as diverse as Reed College, UVA, and Princeton (as well as several later pilots like the one at the University of Washington) all reported that students didn't care to use their digital textbooks on the Kindle DX. Sure, E-ink is a great for reading, but it's not so good at the meta-activity of studying.

Students commonly needed to make a lot of annotations and then access them quickly, and the KDX simply couldn't match the speed of a student with a pen  in their hand.  The students who participated in the pilot programs also reported that the Kindle DX couldn't turn the page fast enough nor jump around inside a textbook as quickly as they needed. And then there's the issue of having only one screen to display several textbooks for a course, but that is a problem all ereader share.

But even before the pilots were done, the Kindle DX effectively was banned from any widespread deployment. In 2009 the National Federation for the Blind sued several universities on behalf of visually impaired students who couldn't use the Kindle DX.

The universities were sued for failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This law specified that the disabled students were to be given equal access, and that has long been interpreted to mean that schools and institutions can’t buy new tech if the visually impaired cannot use it.

Those suits weren't settled until mid-2010, but naturally that put the kibosh on large-scale adoption by schools and libraries.

A second-gen Kindle DX was released in 2010. It had a faster screen and more features, and even though Amazon released a firmware update in early 2011 the Kindle DX has largely been ignored. So far as I know it doesn't even support KF8, Kindle Print Ready (Amazon's own PDF format), or the Kindle fixed layout spec.

This is the second time that the Kindle DX has been discontinued. Amazon first retired the ereader in October 2012, only to launch a comeback tour in May 2013. And now, nearly a year later, it has been retired again.

image by torus

About Nate Hoffelder (11585 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

10 Comments on Amazon Quietly Retires the Kindle DX – Again

  1. Yes, please, go away. One less thing to develop for and test on.

  2. Al the Great and Powerful // 29 April, 2014 at 10:53 pm // Reply

    Shut UP, if there’s going away, Herr Siders, you can be doing that your own bad self… There’s nothing wrong with the DX, and its hardly cannibalizing the other offerings. If Amazon can track all the various things they sell every day, they can handle one more reader.

    • “One less thing to develop for and test on.”
      “There’s nothing wrong with the DX.”

      I think both of you are right. It depends on your content and workflow.

      Ourselves, we stopped developing for mobi7 when we switched from EPUB2- to EPUB3-compliant epub files (we have a one ebook for all vendors workflow). Trying to span one ebook from mobi7 to EPUB3 was not possible for us. And most of our consumers don’t use the DX. So we’re glad to see it go.

      However, we’re having problems with the Kindle Cloud reader. Amazon has told me and other ebook devs that it displays KF8 but we see mobi7. But that’s a different topic altogether…

      • My joy is primarily due to the prospect of Amazon retiring mobi7. As much as I’d like to stop developing for it, our customers—primarily indie authors—aren’t quite ready for it. With our work flow, it’s easier to keep standard CSS modules in place than to explain over and over why something looks like poo when they choose DX in Kindle Previewer.

        Our experience with Kindle Cloud is the same yours, Colleen. We’ve gotten the same line from them, but it just ain’t so. It’s as if no one there has actually tested it.

  3. Al the Great and Powerful // 29 April, 2014 at 11:16 pm // Reply

    Still listed for sale on the Kindle website:
    http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Ereader-ebook-reader/dp/B007HCCNJU?tag=gizmodoamzn-20&ascsubtag=%5Breferrer|lifehacker.com[type|link[postId|1568757502[asin|B007HCCNJU[authorId|5727177402741770316

  4. Al the Great and Powerful // 30 April, 2014 at 11:50 am // Reply

    How odd … it looks like Lifehacker was linking a defunct page from the Kindle store – I rechecked the link this morning and and it worked, then I refreshed the page and it is now gone, replaced by the page with the $20 off Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite.

    So my source was wrong, and it’s finito again for the big guy. Hail and farewell, KDX, you’ve been a good friend at work and at home. I certainly got my money’s worth from mine.

    I do like the form factor, but I wouldn’t pay so much for just a reader these days.

  5. Good riddance! It’s about time for a successor. Was there not some rumor about some new hardware from Amazon scheduled for May?

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