Amazon scoops up Woot, drops price on Kindle DX

July 1, 2010: 11:58 AM ET

The vast empire of Amazon.com continues to expand, and its price war with competing e-readers heats up.

It's been a busy couple of weeks for Amazon.com.

Days after slashing the price of its Kindle eReader by $40, the company announced yesterday it would acquire discount retailer Woot.com for a reported $110 million. According to a statement, Amazon will "foster the long-term growth of Woot, allowing it to continue its passion for serving customers with low prices across a broad selection of products."

Woot, which claims approximately 2.75 million users, made its name by popularizing the online "deal of the day" concept, selling one item each day for a significantly marked-down price. Items range from flat-screen TVs and Playstation 3's to Microsoft Zune players. The site has become so popular that it's not uncommon for items to sell out within in minutes. Spin-off sites have also become successful, highlighting wines, t-shirts, and products for kids. Today's sold-out item of the day: the Kindle 2 for $149. (Coincidence? Yeah, doubt it.)

For Amazon, the acquisition marks another significant addition to its vast empire. Besides expanding into eReaders, cloud computing, and crowd sourcing services, the company also acquired Zappos, the popular shoe shopping site, last year and the online audio book provider, Audible.com, in 2008.

On the eReader and ebookstore front, Amazon continued its price war with competitors. It announced today it has slashed the price for the black Kindle DX from $489 to $379. The device, which has 3G access and a jumbo-sized 9.7-inch screen, now has a higher-contrast E-Ink display.

And moving forward, authors who choose to publish their books on the Kindle's self-publishing Digital Text Platform can expect to to receive 70% of royalties from each book sold, double the amount Amazon offered before. It's comparable to Apple's rate, and 7% more than what Google plans to offer with its upcoming Editions platform.

In an exclusive interview with Fortune published earlier this week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reiterated his support for the Kindle and its transformative effect on reading. "I think the definition of a book is changing," he said. "When you're reading a physical paper book, you're not thinking about the ink and the glue and the stitching. ... The Kindle's designed to be the same so when you're reading, the whole device vanishes, so that you're left with the author's world."

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JP Mangalindan
JP Mangalindan
Writer, Fortune

JP Mangalindan is a San Francisco-based writer at Fortune, covering Silicon Valley. Since joining in 2010, he has written on a wide array of topics, from the turnaround of eBay to the evolution of net neutrality. A graduate of Fordham University, Mangalindan has also written for GQ, Popular Science, and Entertainment Weekly.

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