Amazon.com will allow authors and publishers to upload and sell books in English, German and French in the Kindle Store via its self-service Kindle Digital Text Platform, the online retailer announced on Jan. 15. This marks the expansion of a program previously limited to authors and publishers in the United States.
"We are excited to make the self-service Kindle Digital Text Platform available to authors and publishers around the world," Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Kindle Content, said in a Jan. 15 statement. "Now any content owner can offer English, German or French-language books to the fast-growing audience of Kindle owners around the globe."
Additional languages will apparently be added in coming months.
Despite being dismissed by a number of analysts early in 2009 as a niche item, e-readers were one of the hot items of the 2009 holiday shopping season and at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where an entire section of the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center was devoted to the mobile devices.
In a move seemingly timed to take advantage of CES, Amazon.com announced the release of a Kindle DX that supported wireless downloading in over 100 countries. In addition, this new version of Amazon.com's 9.7-inch e-reader offers native PDF support for reading documents, new functionality perhaps designed to counter a threat from up-and-coming e-reader manufacturers who have been marketing their own devices based on the ability to store and display business and personal texts.
"Kindle DX is great for personal and professional documents, cookbooks and textbooks," Ian Freed, vice president of Amazon.com's Kindle division, said in a Jan. 6 statement. "Documents look so good on the big Kindle DX display that you'll find yourself changing ink toner cartridges less often and printing fewer documents."
However, Amazon.com has not lowered the price of the Kindle DX from its original $489, suggesting that it views competition among e-readers with that screen size as less fierce than for smaller ones; in response to pricing pressure from Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader, which made its debut in October, the cost of Amazon.com's original Kindle has steadily dropped to $259.
In a December interview with Slate, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos said Kindle book sales are equivalent to 48 percent of the company's physical book sales.
The current proliferation of e-readers, however, has the potential to saturate the market. If that happens, then the number of e-readers with their associated software could be rapidly winnowed down, particularly given that many of these devices boast nearly identical price points and functionality. In addition to being able to display e-books, many of the devices at CES included features that brought them more in line with low-end tablet PCs, such as touch screens, MP3 storage and Web-browsing capability.