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 Amazon.co.uk 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 Amazon.co.uk 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…)