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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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First Japanese-Language Kindles Coming Next Month

The move away from physical keyboards gave Amazon an easy route into any number of non-Anglophone markets for the first time.  They’ve made good use of that since the Kindle Touch was first released.  In addition to being able to find a Kindle practically anywhere in the world, localized versions of the popular eReader can now be found for a number of language options.  Now, for the first time, Amazon is pushing their efforts into Asia with the first ever Japanese Kindle.

Amazon.co.jp will now have its own Kindle Store and will be offering the Kindle Paperwhite for sale.  Preordering is now open for both the WiFi and 3G versions of the device.  The prices are currently ¥8,480 and ¥12,980 respectively.  They will begin shipping on November 19th.

Japan has proven a hard market for Amazon to move the Kindle into so far.  Their site has been operating successfully there for twelve years now, but it has been reported that they had trouble getting Japanese publishers interested in doing business with them after all of the conflict between Amazon and the Big 6 publishing houses in US markets.  It seems that terms have now been reached that are considered satisfactory.  The press release for this announcement indicates that over 50,000 Japanese-language titles will be available at launch and that these will include the largest selection of Oricon best sellers anywhere.

Naturally all of these titles will be accessible through Amazon’s various distribution channels.  Kindle Paperwhite owners will be able to make use of the new store, but so will Kindle Fire owners, Kindle app users, and anybody with a web browser.

Introducing the Kindle line to Japan is a particularly important move for Amazon if they want to keep expanding the customer base.  While geographically small, Japan is home to one of the most literate cultures in the world.  It also enjoys the widest newspaper circulation anywhere and may prove a useful place to renew interest in digitally distributed newspapers and magazines.

There is also a large market for graphic literature to be exploited.  This launch will include over 15,000 manga selections.  Kindle Format 8’s Panel View will come in handy for this and the high contrast Kindle Paperwhite display could prove an ideal medium for these books.

The Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD are also now available in Japan and should be shipping on December 19th, one month after the Paperwhite goes out.  While this caters to a different market, having options is never a bad idea.  The Kindle Fire HD might not be quite as good for reading as its single-purpose eReader counterpart, but it does provide a greater versatility and convenience for the money.

Kindle Touch Will Launch Amazon’s eBook Efforts in Japan This April

Recent reports via The Nikkei indicate that Amazon will finally be bringing their bestselling Kindle eReader line to Japan in April of this year with their newest model, the Kindle Touch 3G.  It will carry a  20,000 yen price tag (~260USD), which seems a bit high compared to what the same model is going for elsewhere, but this will actually be rather competitive with existing 3G eReader options in Japan.  Amazon has teamed up with Japanese cellular carrier NTT DoCoMo to offer 3G access which, as with all other Kindle 3G products, will require no data plan or monthly fee of any sort.

This will be a big step for Amazon in a number of ways.  Not least of these is the fact that they are entering into an uphill battle against both established competing hardware providers and a whole new publishing industry that has demonstrated a tendency to be far more resistant to the eBook as a medium than their US counterparts.  Sony and Panasonic are among the more recognizable names that already have a presence but this will also involve going up against Japan-based Rakuten, the company that recently acquired Kobo as a subsidiary and which has an impressive presence in the market already.

When dealing specifically with the issue of eBook supply, many have noticed that Japanese selections are pointedly missing from current Kindle Store offerings.  This is not really a coincidence.  Even localized Japanese eBook stores, such as that offered by Sony, reportedly tend to offer tens of thousands of titles compared to hundreds of thousands in other markets, and these don’t always even include bestsellers.  Either there are some accommodations already planned for building relationships with Japan’s book publishers, or Amazon intends to rely even more heavily than usual on their ability to attracted talented self publishing authors to the Kindle Direct Publishing program.

While this will be a great thing for fans of eReading in Japan, there is unfortunately not yet any real reason to get hopes up regarding a Kindle Fire offering.  Currently it is expected that the UK will be the first to have access to the Kindle Fire outside of the US and even that is taking an absurdly long time for many peoples’ tastes.  The transition to Japan would require a far more extensive localization effort than even the Kindle Touch 3G will require as well as an impressively large amount of infrastructure development for Amazon.  That says nothing about the complications of digitals video rights acquisition, which one would imagine to be a major concern in this case but which I lack the ability to offer any informed commentary about at this time.

Regardless of how much of the Kindle Family makes the trip, it is good to see Amazon expanding their efforts in non-Anglophone countries.  While this tends to provide more complications at first, it’s worth it to get the Kindle out there.  Hopefully this effort in particular will be more than just a passive offering of Kindle hardware and KDP, so as to draw more publisher attention to the potential for digital publishing in Japan.

Amazon Kindle May Invade Japan By Year’s End

Continuing a trend of building their international presence, both in eBooks and beyond, Amazon appears to be making arrangements to bring their Kindle line to Japan as early as then end of this year.  While the company has been operating their Amazon.jp site for some time now, there have been complications in offering customers the Kindle until this point.  Hopefully that is soon to be a thing of the past.

Japanese publishers have shown themselves to be very hesitant to allow Amazon to acquire content, citing concerns about the online retail giant’s increasing level of control and influence in anglophile markets.  This, in addition to Amazon’s habitual price cuts led to them to question whether there was money to be made in Kindle Store content.

After Sony’s recent successful entry with the Reader PRS-650 at the beginning of this year, though, there has been reason to hope these companies are coming around. If nothing else, there is definite pressure from consumers who are quickly growing increasingly familiar with the potential of eBooks and eReaders and want to be able to take advantage of them.The solution to the publisher impasse seems to have taken the form of building a predefined framework for the timing and rate of discounts.  Publishers will, according to reports, be consulted before any such discounts were put in place.

Should Amazon manage to carve out a place for the Kindle in the Japanese eBook market, it could be a huge move.  Right now this space has been comparatively underexploited for a variety of reasons.  To make it work, however, they’ll need to do more than just set up a Kindle Store.

The first step will be getting the entire newest generation of Kindle eReaders out there.  The Kindle 4 and Kindle Touch, due to their virtual keyboards, both provide the ability to display Japanese characters in every part of the eReader’s function.  Just one advantage of doing away with the physical keyboard, I suppose.  Without the Kindle Touch, however, competing with even the Sony PRS-T1 would be difficult no matter the price of the Kindle 4.  Right now Amazon.uk is offering the Kindle 4 and the Kindle Keyboard without the touchscreen model, but that won’t do much good in an area where the English keyboard is less useful. These need to be available not just online but in retailers as well.  Exposure will be vital, and partnerships will need to be formed.

While the Kindle Fire is currently only available for pre-order in the US, it would make a great deal of sense for Amazon to push Japan as the first other market to get access to it.  Unfortunately, given that this would require a lot of effort to grab distribution rights in a wide variety of media forms it seems like a long shot.  An effort by Amazon to acquire these rights and expand its influence seems to be inevitable, but it won’t come quickly or easily and a half-hearted attempt would do more harm than good.

Brother Releases Another Unspeakably Expensive E-Book Reader

brother_sv-70_3-540x367

Brother is a Japanese company who already have an e-Book reader in the market called the SV-100B. That e-Book reader never made it to anywhere outside Japan but it is already time for a new version. Brother has now released a new model called SV-70. Interestingly, instead of making it even better, this is actually a scaled down version of the original e-reader and in most cases they are very similar to each other. They both use the eInk display made famous by the Kindle and they are exactly the same in dimensions as well. I would say they also look identical.

But the Sv-70 stored half the pages compared to the SV-100B — 500 pages on the SV-70 compared to the SV-100B’s 1000 pages. Also, there is no Bluetooth 2.0+EDR on the SV-70 but the SV-100B has it. Also, the older model could connect to a cellphone wirelessly to access documents — that is gone too. You know, you would think that a newer model would have more ways to connect. But instead you have a device that barely connect’s at all.

On the surface, it is pretty ugly.  I am sorry but in an age where minimalism is beautiful, that huge a thing with so many buttons is just plain unsightly. Still, the fact that it they have made a new model with far less features  might mean that their target market is something else altogether and no one really wants to connect to anything.

And that might actually be the case, given how much Brother is charging for the SV-70. If you thought a $400 e-reader was expensive, you might want to look away right now. Because Brother’s SV-70 costs something around $1092.00 per unit! Yes, I put in those decimal zeroes to show you that there has been no mistake! Obviously, this meant mainly for industrial users who have a completely different set of feature set in mind. I guess we will only know when at least one of these finally gets out of Japan.

Browser And Blogs Update for Mexico, Hong Kong and Japan

It looks like Amazon has updated the feature list for the International Kindle.

Basic Web (experimental web browser) and blog subscriptions are not longer available in Mexico, Hong Kong and Japan. So for now this feature is going to be exclusive to US customers.

Update: It looks like Amazon has changed their mind again – browser support is back for these countries but not blogs.

Fujistu FLEPia features color eInk

Fujitsu has launched FLEPia – “color e-paper mobile terminal”. It features:

fujitsu-flepia

  • 8″ 1024×768 e-Ink resistive touchscreen that can display either 260,000, 4,096 or 64 colors. Depending on the number of colors page update time ranges from 1.8 to 8 seconds.
  • 158 x 240 x 12 mm size and 350g weight. This makes it larger and heavier compared to Amazon Kindle 2 (135 x 203 x 9 mm and 289g). I would imagine that version with 12″ screen would be even heavier.
  • SD slot that can accommodate up to 4GB of flash memory
  • Connectivity is represented by 802.11b/g wireless, Bluetooth 2.0 and USB
  • It runs Microsoft Windows CE5.0 on XScale RISC CPU
  • Battery life is 40 hours or 2,400 page turns which is impressive for a device with these capabilities.
  • eBook formats supported are: BunkoViewer XMDF and T-Time .book. Both are eBook formats widely used on mobile phones in Japan. Since device runs a generic Windows CE5.0 OS I can speculate that it would be possible to broaden format selection by installing additional applications
  • Price tag is ¥100,000 ($940)

While I didn’t have the opportunity to play around with this device I’ll speculate a little bit…

Although some news sites might call this device a “Kindle Killer”, it’s obviously not that. First of all it’s geared heavily towards Japanese market and Japanese users. Secondly, it is not hooked to Kindle Book Store which is crucial to Kindle‘s success. My personal belief is that Kindle would have been successful even without eInk technology though maybe slightly less. And thirdly even 8″ version costs around $1,000 which is to high for “eBook reader for the masses”

It is good to see this device comercially released though because it would allow for further development of color eInk technology and eventually prices will come down and we’ll see more devices featuring it…