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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: October 22, 2009 @ 12:53 am

    Kindle gets international launch

    Ciara O'Brien

    The Amazon Kindle has been a much-coveted device for some fans of electronic readers, but until now, it’s been restricted to US customers only. However, all that is about to change. From today, international customers can buy the device with an international wireless package. It should come in at around 250 euro once the import duties and delivery are taken into account.


    So what’s good about the Kindle?

    Amazon’s Kindle appeal may lie in the access it has to the Kindle store, which has more than 200,000 electronic books to choose from. These books can be stored online in each customer’s online locker, and accessed over a wireless internet service when users wish to download them to their device.

    I’ve seen it work; it’s pretty impressive. Plus you can subscribe to papers, which means your chosen publication is waiting for you when you get up in the morning.

    Also, the Irish Times is the only Irish newspaper currently available in the Kindle store.

    The not so good bits:

    Like the music industry before it, ebooks may be stifled by the battle over digital rights management. While the music industry seems to have relaxed its vice grip on the digital files customers have purchased – the move to MP3 format in iTunes, for example – it remains to be seen how the same situation will play out in the publishing world.

    Although the Kindle has access to a large amount of books online, what you can actually do with these books is limited. So unlike a regular book, you can’t lend some ebooks to friends. Some may allow you to use it on a certain umber of authorised devices, but aside from that, you’re limited in what you can do with it.

    It has happened in recent months that Amazon have removed books from customers’ digital archives and refunded the cost of it to their account without their knowledge or permission. One of these, ironically, was George Orwell’s 1984. Amazon has said it won’t happen agin, but the incident has left some people – understandably – wary.

    The Kindle doesn’t support PDF documents. Amazon explained this is down to the screen size, and increasing/decreasing the size of the PDF. So instead, it uses software to translate them.

    What other options do you have?

    The market for ereaders has certainly heated up in recent months. Sony recently announced it was launching two new readers in Europe, the Touch and the Pocket editions. iRex, BeBook and Cool-er are also available if you poke around online.

    In the US, Barnes & Noble announced it was launching its own e-reader, the Nook. This, like the Kindle, is wirelessly linked to the book retailer’s store. However, a quick search of B&N indicates that many of the ebooks aren’t available to customers outside the US – you need a US billing address.

    Plasticlogic has also announced its Que, which has an 8.5in x 11in screen, is wireless and less than a third of an inch thick. However, it won’t be available until 2010.

    • paul m says:

      word to the wise, fellow readers wait until generation three or four of these ebook readers before you delve in.

      1. currently too expensive and not properly road tested.

      2. waaaay too many different formats of readers with their own custom software and incompatibility with existing user approved apps (no kindle support for pdf). Just like Blu ray vs hd dvd, minidisc vs cd, umd vs hd, there’ll be sides taken in this format battle before one comes out the victor. we’ve yet to see 3/4 of tablet manufacturers wade into this market. I’m sure apple are lurking in the wings.

      3 DRM. take a leaf from music industry here folks. it doesnt work, if people want to share they’ll find a way. Googles approach is more on the money with their digital books archive. And this US only address sign up malarkey is like something from the dark ages. Nice way to cut out a prospective audience.

    • Ciara says:

      Agree 100% on DRM – it hasn’t worked for any industry and has just annoyed consumers. Ditch the DRM and come up with something better, and we may see more progress in the e-book industry