Amazon has announced a new low-cost Kindle ebook reader just in time for Xmas.

Called simply ‘Kindle’, the new model costs just £89 — £20 less than the previous Kindle model (which is still available, but has been renamed Kindle Keyboard).

The new Kindle uses the same high-quality e-ink screen as the previous model with the same 6” size, but Amazon has dropped the Qwerty keyboard and instead deployed a simple four-way button for page turning and basic operation.

As a result, the new Kindle is 18% smaller (166 x 114 x 8.7mm, compared to 190 x 123 x 8.5mm) and, at 170g, 30% lighter.

The only minor trade-off for the smaller size seems to be a smaller battery, but the new Kindle can still last for one month between recharges. Unlike the Kindle Keyboard, the new Kindle is only available as a Wi-Fi-only model, but that will probably bother few buyers at this price.

There has been some grumbling about the apparent price difference between the new Kindle in the UK and the US. The US price is $79, which is around £51, but that’s not quite the whole story.

The cheapest new model in the US includes advertising that’s automatically displayed on the screen when the Kindle isn’t in use — the ad-free model costs $30 more.

Amazon isn’t selling the discounted, ad-supported Kindle in the UK, so our £89 model is really the same as the US $109 one, which comes to around £70 plus VAT — or £84.

Incidentally, Amazon has also launched two other Kindles in the US — a touch-screen Kindle Touch, and the Kindle Fire with colour screen and multimedia playback support. Neither is available in the UK though, and Amazon so far refuses to comment on planned UK availability.

The new Kindle is currently available for pre-order and will start shipping on 12th October.

[Amazon Kindle]