Amazon begins shipping the talking Kindle

The second version of Amazon's (AMZN) remarkably successful digital book reader, the Kindle 2, begins shipping to eager readers this week, amid a controversy within the audio book industry about its new Text-to-Speech capability. How will readers react the the new, improved electronic device?

The first version sold very well, although even the best estimates vary widely. A director at Citigroup Smith Barney who specializes in internet business recently estimated that around half a million of the readers were sold in 2008. This seems reasonable in light of Sony's claim to have sold 300,000 of its more expensive but similar Portable Readers over the past three years, without the reach of Amazon's marketing or 230,000-title catalog.