Staring down the barrel of Apple's iPad threat, Amazon isn't backing down. The massive Web retailer has announced a smaller, cheaper Kindle, and is sending CEO Jeff Bezos around the country to evangelize for it, making such pithy proclamations as:

For the vast majority of books, adding video and animation is not going to be helpful. It is distracting rather than enhancing. You are not going to improve Hemingway by adding video snippets

He may sound bold about the Kindle's unique advantages, but that, of course, is his job. More strikingly, many tech writers have backed him up, insisting that the Kindle has plenty of competitive space to carve out next to Apple's now far more expensive product, with some arguing they shouldn't be compared at all.  Here's why:

  • The Whole iPad vs. Kindle Construct Is Wrong   Nicholas Deleon of TechCrunch is perplexed by people who compare the Kindle to the iPad. "What is the Kindle? It's an e-reader, and primarily an e-book reader at that...What is the iPad? A flashy, catch-all device. Yes, you can use it to read e-books, but it's not designed exclusively to do so. In fact, a class-action lawsuit was recently filed against Apple because people don't like how the iPad overheats when used in direct sunlight. ... In other words, Kindle != iPad. Let's stop pretending otherwise."
  • Kindle Still Has Leg Up With Publishers  Jemima Kiss of The Guardian balances out some pros and cons. "For once, Apple is swimming uphill in the ebooks space with a publishing industry largely cautious of the format; it has seen the impact of Apple's iPod on the music space, and other limbs of the industry are concerned the ambitions of Google's ongoing books project." Yet the Kindle is still a bit outside mainstream, she writes: "For students with dull, bulky textbooks, ebooks are very practical. But for the public at large, ebook readers remain a novelty."
  • Amazon Is Keeping Razor Focus on Reading Experience  Rory Cellan-Jones of the BBC pokes fun at those who see the Kindle as "so last year," and lists some of the Amazon device's strengths: "What's interesting about the latest Kindle is how defiantly different it is from the iPad or other tablets. Amazon has refused to bend to pressure to make it touchscreen or to introduce colour. The company believes that would detract from the experience, which it seeks to make almost impossible to differentiate from that of reading a book."
  • The Goal Is to Sell Books, Not Devices    Adam Jackson of The Apple Blog explains why, declaring both devices "winners." The low price of the new device allows both the Kindle and iPad to coexist, he writes. "Kindle is priced so aggressively that true book lovers can buy the new Kindle at a price that's simply a no brainer considering that Kindle books cost considerably less than real books and you're saving on shipping and the pesky 3-7 days it takes for a book to arrive at your door. No longer is there a decision to make between buying a Kindle device or simply paying $150 more and having an iPad that does books and so much more. Amazon is finally showing the industry that it doesn't want to make millions selling Kindles. It's about the sale of digital books." As for competition over ebooks, Jackson says Kindle is the superior service.
  • Kindle the Only Device for Essential Niche: Die-Hard Readers  Alex Wilhelm of The Next Web rebuts a colleague who argued that the new Kindle is dead-on-delivery, citing the trend away from single-function devices like digital cameras. Wilhelm explains why the idea that the Kindle is "outdated" might be mistaken: "The lens that you have to view the Kindle through is just this: it is designed not for the casual reader, but the voaracious book swallower...Why is Kindle performing so well on the iPad and elsewhere? Kindle is the brand name for e-books, around the world. ... iPad sales are good for the Kindle platform, and Amazon should keep doing exactly what they are: building a device for their biggest fans and catering strongly to the needs of casual readers who do not want a dedicated reader."