Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kindle International Edition

It had been rumored for a while and today came the official announcement: Ladies and gents! Amazon Kindle 2 is now internationally available in 100+ countries (but bizarrely not in Canada - anybody knows why?).

As of today, you can pre-order it from the site for $279 and Amazon will begin shipping them on 19th October. Even though the device is current sold from the .com site, a UK store is forthcoming. Currently the list of UK publishers whose books are available to Kindle 2 users include Atlantic Books, Bloomsbury, Canongate, Faber & Faber, Hachette, Harlequin, HarperCollins, Lonely Planet, Penguin, Profile Books, Quercus, Simon & Schuster and Wiley. It looks like the talks between Amazon and Random House are ongoing so Random House is not currently on the list. The number of available titles is supposed to be more than 250.000.

According to The Register, the Kindle international edition seems to be using GSM technology only. If this is true, the Kindle International may not be working everywhere in the world. Furthermore, the UK coverage map resembles 3's network, even though the operator denied having an agreement with Amazon.

What's this fee of $1.99 per book about?

Since the announcement, there has been a big debate about the international prices, especially about the $1.99 that the international users are supposed to pay per book downloaded. It turns out that this fee is payed only by the US Kindle users buying books outside the USA. International users won't pay that fee even if they use their Kindles outside their registered countries. I'm sure, that's precisely the reason why the international titles' prices will range between $11.99 and $13.99 rather than %9.99 like in the US. It looks like the extra fee is bundled with the book price for the non-US customers already.

As you can guess, it was all about releasing the Kindle 2 well before the holiday season. Q4 has always been the busiest quarter for Amazon so they wanted release the device early in October. Is that a half-baked solution? Will there be a lot of confusion about where to buy it and for how much? We'll see it pretty soon. In the meantime, competition is good for us, the consumers. I believe Sony's e-readers are better devices but we'll see if Amazon can break Sony's market dominance outside the US.

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