Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader is a godsend for anyone who likes reading while they travel, allowing you to hit the road with hundreds of books without the weight and bulk. The Kindle was previously only available in the USA, but from January 19 2010 will begin shipping internationally.
Ever since I met an American couple on a diveboat who had an Amazon Kindle last May, I’ve wanted one. Having heard all the hype about how easy the screen was to read even in bright sunlight, I’d wanted to play with one – but Kindles weren’t available in Thailand, or anywhere else in the world except the USA. These kindly people let me use their Kindle for a little while, and immediately I could see what the fuss was about – it automatically feels right as soon as you pick it up and it’s surprisingly lightweight too. For travellers who like to read, it’s a godsend. The thought of being able to take scores of books travelling with me on such a small, light device is incredibly appealing, although I wonder if the novelty would wear off after a couple of months. However, from what I’ve heard, most people who use a Kindle find it habit-forming, rather than giving up on it.
Even so, I’ve been waiting to hear when Amazon were going to roll out the Kindle to its international audience. The Kindle will be available to over 200 countries from today, January 19 2010. For me, the two countries I need it to work in are the UK and Thailand – and according to Amazon’s own coverage map for wireless connectivity, both countries have access to Kindle’s bookstore for direct downloads.
The Amazon Kindle comes in two flavours. There’s the original Kindle with Global Wireless which is $260. This version has been available to international customers since October 2009. The Kindle DX is the bigger version of the original Kindle and so the price tag is $490 US. I think I would stick with the original Kindle for ease of portability, but I’m going to wait and see what the reviews are like of the Kindle DX Global Wireless version before deciding.
There are several “experimental” features on the Kindle, like the Web browser, which will not work for international customers, which is a bit poor. Blogs can’t currently be accessed either.
My more major concern is the availability of titles – because each book has different rules about how and where it can be distributed, the UK and Thailand Kindle bookstores may not have the titles I want that are in the US Kindle store.
The other thing is what other ebook gadgets are waiting down the line, if not from Amazon then other companies like Apple, with their long rumoured iTablet. It’s clear that Amazon have pioneered a whole new market with Kindle and that other companies will be attempting to capitalise on that with new innovations – the question is just how long it’s worth waiting to see what the competition delivers. Ah, so many shiny toys…
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