Chicken And Egg

British book fanatics will soon be able to get their hands on Amazon's popular Kindle electronic book reader, after the company unveiled an international version of the gadget. In an announcement today, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos said the Kindle will be available worldwide on October 19, selling through the company's American website and shipping to the UK for $279 (£175) – although import duties will push the price up to around £200.

Although customers will have to order from the United States for the time being, Bezos said in a note to British customers on that the gadget would eventually be sold through the company's British outlet. “In the future, we plan to introduce a UK-centric Kindle experience, enabling you to purchase Kindle and Kindle books in sterling from our site,” he said.

So – as an avid ebook evangelist and crazy – will I be pre-ordering the Kindle?

The short answer is no.

The reason that I am excited about the Kindle being made available over here in the UK is that Amazon sells a huge range of books. In the US their website has a huge number of books available for the device. In the UK the number of ebooks that are on the Waterstones site is… well… less than large.

(Also I could really whinge about how Waterstones has mismanaged the ebook market – and that competition will be good, but that is a post for another day – and another site).

So, why am I not going to buy the Kindle as soon as it's available? It comes down, once more, to the amount of content that the site will sell – have enough UK publishers made the decision to release their books in an ebook format, or will they continue to sit on their hands?

I'm sure that if the sale of the Kindle takes off, then more publishers will make ebooks – but for sales of the Kindle to be significant you need a large amount of content. So it's a circular market that might not take off because publishers, or Amazon don't take a leap of faith.

(Personally I'd like to be able to download the books from the US site – ignoring regional releases, just like I can order American physical books and have them imported)


(While looking for the above article I stumbled across this article and video – it's where I live. In the video the narrator mentions that the Fiddlers is no more. The reason it was pulled to the ground? Too much drug dealing…)

17 thoughts on “Chicken And Egg”

  1. Amazon are promising 280,000 books in their UK promotional material. The US site has 350,000, so I am guessing that there are making all the ones they legally can available.I don't think selection is the issue here. The real issue is the DRM format war – VHS/Betamax, HD-DVD/Blu-ray, ePUB/Mobipocket. You'd think someone would have learned by now.

  2. I can't get my head around these. I'd much rather have a physical book in my hands, especially an old one ( I love that smell ). The only plus side I can see, is that I would need fewer bookcases.

  3. I absolutely love physical books. I can't resist buying books. But I'd also love to have something like the Kindle, so I don't have to carry all the books around.The problem I have is that, as you said, with an Amazon e-book you get less functionality than with a book. Smaller choice, restrictions on purchase you can't have with a real book, and the ability for them to just disappear.

    It's like the whole mp3 thing, trying to restrict their use with rediculous DRM and TOS, but eventually they'll figure out that people will still pay, and in higher numbers, if you make them easier to use and distribute.

  4. It mentions 250000 books available to the UK customer. Assuming these are from US publishers, but is that a problem? It would be nice if we could see what was available.Anyway, I thought you already had a Kindle?! Vaguely remember an old post about it…

  5. I have (two) Sony Readers – similar but different. And some books are only available for download in the US *not* the UK.

  6. Like everything else, it's expensive when they first arrive – look at how much MP3 players used to cost.There are already cheaper readers out there.

  7. It is one of the things that most annoys me about this – that the publishing world seem intent on going down the same route as the music business.There are some differences though – as books are much harder to 'rip' than music, but the consequences are the same.

    Of course, I'm the loon who gives his books away to read online for free…

  8. why won't i be buying a kindle?200 is a lot of money for something that i might drop in the bath, leave on the train, spill coffee on, have nicked from the cab…

    i buy most of my books second hand and because of that, if something happens to it, i can replace it very easily and cheaply.

    also it's nice to be able to lend a book to a friend if you find something you think they might like. i now read Lee Child books which i probably wouldn't have even looked at until someone lent me one…

  9. I wouldn't buy one anyway. It's as ugly as all get out and has a mediocre screen, and single function (no web browser or app API). I'd wait for Apple's (strongly) rumored tablet in 2010. Like other things Apple does, it's bound to be beautiful, easy to use and will redefine the genre. Imagine a color screen like the iPhone but 10 inches – being able to read full color magazines, books – but also watch video, browse the web. Add the device to iTunes with what is bound to be a good catalog, and I think the Kindle will be dead within the year.

  10. I'm… actually wondering what the return for authors is like on this thing. I mean, Amazon buy the physical books get a 60-70% wholesale discount as it is (or at least, that's how it worked not so long ago)… if the same deal applies, authors are getting practically nothing surely?

  11. But usually twice the price and half the features. I'm more interested in what I get for my money than how pretty it is.

  12. My 3 year old Palm Tungsten e allows me to read .doc and .txtdocuments after a conversion to the .pdb format during the transfer.

    I like the variable speed autoscroll.

    I'm using it to read MBMSMT.

  13. I don't think I will be getting one either. Not unless they come down in price and get more content for the Canadian website. I don't know if I could ever give up the feeling of holding a book and sitting if front of a fire on a cold snowy day. I agree with madvixen.

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