Amazon takes Kindle to the world

Amazon plans to start selling its Kindle reader in over 100 countries and territories on Oct. 19, and the company has already started booking pre-orders for the device on its web site. Canada, however, is not on the list.

Amazon is selling the Kindle with U.S. & International Wireless to customers in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and South America, for US$279 for a reader with a 6-inch display and the ability to wirelessly download books and other content globally, the company said on Wednesday.

The Kindle was earlier only available in the U.S. Amazon has been working with publishers for many months to build a vast selection of English language books available around the world, said Stephanie Mantello Ward, a spokeswoman for Amazon, in an e-mail on Wednesday.

Amazon also has some books in languages other than English, but its focus right now is to provide its customers with the best possible experience for English-language content, she added.

The Kindle will not be sold in China because Amazon is unable to ship the Kindle or offer Kindle content to Chinese customers, the company said.

“We want to ship Kindle everywhere, and we’re working on it,” Ward said. She did not give a reason why China was not included in the current launch.

Best-seller books will cost US$11.99 or more for international customers, with about 100,000 other titles available for less than US$5.99, Amazon said. These prices are higher than in the U.S. where most best sellers cost US$9.99.

As Amazon is selling from the U.S. store, the prices of the books in international markets are denominated in U.S. dollars rather than local currencies. “We aren’t announcing a timeline today for payments in other currencies,” Ward said.

Amazon also said that it is lowering the price of the 6-inch display Kindle in the U.S. from US$299 to US$259. The Kindle DX, which has a 9.7-inch display, retails for US$489.

The Kindle with U.S. & International Wireless is 0.36 inches thick and weighs just over 10 ounces, Amazon said. Its 2GB of memory holds up to 1,500 books. The device features an experimental text-to-speech feature, Amazon added.

Customers who buy a Kindle in a country without Whispernet coverage will be able to purchase content from the Kindle Store through a PC and download it to their Kindle through a USB (universal serial bus) cable, Ward said.

Whispernet is a wireless delivery system for the Kindle that allows a user to download books and other Kindle content. AT&T will be offering the service to international users of the Kindle.

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