October 7th, 2009


A worldwide conflagration

No, this post isn't about World War II. It's about the Amazon Kindling the world. I wasn't even going to post about ebooks today, but now I have to announce that the Kindle is going international!. Amazon is taking pre-orders for an international model Kindle 2 that will use an AT&T 3G network to provide wireless delivery; the international model sells for $279. Amazon also dropped the price of the US version to $259, a $40 reduction.

Now that book delivery can easily cross international boundaries, it brings up the question of copyright law and also of distribution rights, a complex morass of laws, regulations, and fairness issues that remains to be sorted out. The Wired post linked to above has this quote:

"Amazon staved off copyright problems by negotiating an arrangement with English language publishers that pays royalties depending on the territory of purchase. (If you buy a copy of The Perfect Thing in London, for instance, the UK publisher Ebury press gets the sale, instead of US publisher Simon & Schuster.) Still, the rights clearances aren’t yet comprehensive; of the 350,000 books in the Kindle store, only around 200,000 will be available in some countries."

Clear as mud, right? The other interesting thing in Wired that I have not seen in other reports is a quote from Jeff Bezos that for Amazon books with Kindle versions, the Kindle version is now 48 percent of Amazon sales, up from 35 percent the last time they released numbers. Publishers may flap their hands and squawk that those numbers represent lost hardback sales, but I don't think they do. I think mostly they represent a certain percentage of sales that would not have been made until the paperback came out, and a good number that would not have been made at all. Once it's faster, easier, and cheaper to buy books, you buy more!

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