Wednesday, 07 October 2009 10:54

Kindle e-book goes international

Amazon is expanding the availability of its Kindle e-book device to more than 100 countries, including Australia. Hundreds of thousands of titles are offered, mostly at prices below the print editions.

Australia, India and China are among the 100-plus countries where Amazon is now selling its Kindle e-book reader. It has previously been sold only in the US.

Canada and New Zealand are among the English speaking markets where the device remains unavailable.

The $US279 6in Kindle offered internationally weighs less than 300g and is supposed to work for days on a single charge.

The device uses the mobile phone network to download content, without having to use a computer as a intermediary. Amazon's not saying which carrier it uses in Australia, but one look at the coverage map shows it clearly isn't Telstra.

According to that map, 3G coverage is limited to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra. There are also large areas - even in the more populous states - that even lack the slower EDGE/GPRS coverage.

Users outside coverage areas can download content to a PC and then transfer it to the Kindle.

There's more on the available content on page 2, so please read on.

Kindle owners can start reading a newly purchased book in less than 60 seconds when they are in a 3G area. Download costs are built into book prices, so there's no monthly fee or data plan involved.

Up to 1500 books can be stored on a Kindle. More than 350,000 books are available from Amazon, though that number varies between countries. For example, Australian owners have the choice of more than 280,000, but that drops to over 270,000 for Indian buyers.

Most books are sold at lower prices than their physical editions. For example, most titles on the New York Times bestseller list are sold at $US9.99, which is typically between half and one third of the paperback price.

Various US and international newspapers and magazines can also be purchased. Examples include The New York Times ($US13.00 per month) and Time ($US1.49 per month).

Audio titles from can be purchased on a PC and then transferred to a Kindle for mobile listening, as can personal documents and various public domain electronic texts.

International Kindle shipments will begin on October 19; pre-orders are now being accepted.

The 9.7in Kindle DX is still only available in the US at this time.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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