The Brazilian market has not seen an entry from Amazon so far, but that looks like it is about to change. It seems that the Kindle will be launched in Brazil by the holiday season, along with a store that they hope to full with at least 10,000 titles. Oddly, in what I believe is the only instance of such a thing happening so far, there will be no other Amazon services entering the market at the same time. That means that for the time being the eBook store will have to stand on its own.
While a full retail store is definitely in plans for Brazil, at the moment there are apparently too many potential dangers in the notoriously complex commercial markets there. By going entirely digital, many of the shortcomings in infrastructure and tax codes can be somewhat sidestepped. It’s interesting timing given the fact that Brazil’s consumer growth seems to be trailing off after a decade of impressive growth, but Amazon is far from the only company interested in cashing in on Latin America’s most prosperous economy.
The motivation behind this move is Amazon’s expectation that the Kindle could quickly come to dominate the eBook market. Apparently some research has indicated that a fairly large number of Brazilian readers already own imported eReaders, including the Kindle, and go out of their way to purchase and download books through stores that are not technically open to the country at this time. By moving the Kindle Store in, Amazon expects to immediately grab as much as 90% of the country’s eBook sales. The same source that released this information also mentioned that Amazon is hoping to expand eBook sales from 0.5% of the Brazilian publishing market to 15% within the first year of operations.
We can expect the basic Kindle model to be the first thing released through the new store. It will likely be selling for approximately 500 reais, equivalent to $239, which is obviously higher than many other markets are seeing but still cheaper than the competition currently available in Brazil. Naturally prices will drop as competition strengthens, but there has been some indication that even this high price is being subsidized by Amazon thanks to the added expense of doing business in this area.
There are already contracts in place with around 30 publishers as Amazon gets ready for the release. There is also word that there are still ongoing talks with several that are not included in that list. One publisher said that the current plan is to offer titles at 70% of their paperback price, allowing for a profit margin of 40-50%. That would not translate to much revenue for the wholesalers, in this case publishers, but they are still interested in signing up for the platform as a means to expand interest in their books.
This will probably end up being the slowest expansion that Amazon has undertaken to date. Entering into the Brazilian economy will be rather unpleasant for them and clearly they are aware of that. By leading with the Kindle not only will they avoid some of the headaches associated with local shipping and distribution of assorted retail products, they will also be putting the best foot forward by providing interested customers with one of the best products in production today for reading. It seems to be a smart choice.
While the Kindle name is practically synonymous with eReading for many people, it has been confined largely to the US for a rather long time now and as such Amazon may have lost a chance to build the same momentum in other markets. Much of what made them so successful was being the first company on the scene ready to get eBooks out there when customer interest began to stir. The situation will be a bit different moving forward.
When it comes to international market coverage in eReading, Kobo is the name to reference. They haven’t had the same impact in the US that Amazon has managed with the Kindle, but the Kobo Touch eReader has been available in areas where a Kindle was hard to come by for quite a while now. They have recently partnered up with WHSmith in the UK in an effort to gain more coverage. The Kobo Vox, essentially their attempt to match the Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet, is just £149.99 (by comparison, the Kindle Fire is not even available). That’s not to mention the fact that Kobo devices are already available in 190 countries with expansion still ongoing, or the newly revamped self-publishing platform that they are having some success with.
Sony is also making something of a comeback. While they were possibly the first company to launch a major eReader line with the Sony PRS series, they have failed to stay relevant in recent years. Their new Reader Store has finally opened (months behind schedule) in the UK and they have a fairly substantial presence in select other markets where the Kindle is just beginning to move in.
Even Barnes & Noble is going to be something of a threat, potentially, in specific international markets. Well, one specific international market if they’re lucky. The much-reported partnership that the company has with Waterstones has produced very few results so far. The partnership is still likely to happen, but they are taking their time about it. This is most likely a matter of developing relationships for content to fill UK eBook stores with and could be held up at least partially due to the chance of the Agency Model being abolished in book publishing by ongoing lawsuits. This would naturally have widespread implications.
None of this is to say that the Kindle won’t be able to make it outside the US. If anything, the international launch of the Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G enjoyed such popularity that even Amazon was shocked. Since the creation of a real, local Kindle Store in any given market is likely to be a major undertaking, however, anybody who has already got their store and device out there for customers is at a distinct advantage. Amazon certainly has enough weight to throw at the problems they encounter, and they will do so without much hesitation as the recent small publisher negotiations prove, but it may be a long process at best with all the other big names already at work.
The Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G have begun to make their way to customers outside the US a full week ahead of schedule. Some may already have them in hand. The company mentioned on Friday that they had begun sending out the new Kindles for pre-order customers. Shipments are being mailed in the order those pre-orders were received.
The enthusiasm from customers outside the US has apparently exceeded expectations by quite a bit. Since there has already been a well observed secondary market for Kindle re-sales emerging in areas that did not have access to the device previously, this could indicate a more active expansion on the international scale than we have seen so far. Much of that will depend on how much ongoing popularity the Kindle enjoys now that it is past the pre-order stage, but it’s safe to say that Amazon will expand to pretty much any area they see the potential for profit in.
At the moment the Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G are, as Amazon claims, the only more or less globally available eReader in the price range to offer such a wide range of features. While some of them are not fully functional in all circumstances yet, such as the newly introduced translation ability from the last firmware update, the important parts are all still there. Users will still be able to enjoy the high contrast E Ink screen, two month battery life, and all the other basic eReading functions that we’ve come to expect even in cases where the more creative new abilities have not quite become available. On top of that, the optional 3G connectivity will work all over the world and remains free of monthly charges no matter where you’re ordering from.
So far we have no word on the possible international release of the Kindle Fire media tablet. Surely there will be some effort to bring this branch of the Kindle line to a wider audience at some point in the relatively near future, but it could be a complicated enough problem to work through that delays until the next generation of the product would not be surprising. If nothing else, securing rights to media streaming over a variety of different media forms will tend to involve time-consuming negotiations of a sort that many publishers don’t want to be in with Amazon given their recent tactics.
Check back here for more information on Kindle Fire international release schedules, tech specs for the Kindle Fire 2, and generally anything Kindle related that I can come up with. There should be no shortage of such information over the next several months.
If your one of the many people interested in buying the Kindle, but unfortunately you live outside the US, then until Amazon decides to release Kindle in your local you cant enjoy the benefits of owning a Kindle. Kindle owners here in the US are also interested in knowing whether using their Kindles outside the US is possible. Amazon states in it’s FAQ section that it is working on releasing the Kindle for international markets and asks that international customers to sit tight for the time being.
That’s not good enough for some.
Where there’s a will, there is way. A post by Nerdgirl on her site offers a solution for those unwilling to wait for the official Kindle release in their country. The hack involves tricking Amazon into thinking that your billing address is associated with a US address — apparently Amazon does not verify the address unless you purchase a dead-tree book. This then allows you to associate a Kindle device with your Amazon account, once your Kindle is associated with your account you can use gift certificates to buy e-books. But if your expecting them to be delivered wirelessly then think again, they wont be, you will have to transfer the e-book via USB.
The very fact that someone has discovered this hack proves that people outside the US are itching to get their hands on the Kindle.
You can read the full instructions on Nerdgirls website by following the link below.
There has been an interesting development for UK Kindle fans, user TadW on MobileRead forums stumbled upon an article in the London Evening Standard which reviewed the Kindle, whilst the review offers nothing new in terms of information, there was a glimmer of hope for a UK autumn release date.
For now, in any case, at the moment, the Kindle is only available in America. There have been reports that Amazon. co.uk plans to launch a version of it here in the autumn (perhaps using wi-fi, rather than a phone system?) but when I asked a spokesman for the company about this, he refused to comment, monotonously repeating we dont talk about future plans.
But it seems the Kindle has now begun to acquire some of the momentum that iPods picked up over other MP3 players; just as iPods changed the way we listen, so the Kindle may, by next summer, say, be impacting on the way many of us read.
I say glimmer because that’s all it was, a tiny glimmer. A UK release would present some challenges for Amazon, the dominant standard for cellular communication in the UK is Global System for Mobile (GSM) whereas in the US it is Evolution Data Optimized (EVDO), Amazon would also have to negotiate a contract with a UK carrier. Amazon recently revealed that it had optimised its supply chain which was one of the reasons for the $40 price drop, with the supply problems behind them Amazon could now concentrate on developing the Kindle for new markets, and the UK & Europe would be a huge market for Amazon.
Amazon will most likely offer different versions of the Kindle in different countries, but for now I think Amazon will see how the Kindle performs in the US before they think about releasing it in the UK or anywhere else, which makes the autumn release seem a bit premature.
Source: MobileRead Forums