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An attempt to kindle interest

After nearly two years of multimillion-dollar sales in the United States, Amazon is going global with its Kindle e-book reader.

Daniella Grossman | Print Edition: November, 2009

After nearly two years of multimillion-dollar sales in the United States, Amazon is going global with its Kindle e-book reader. On 19 October, it launched in India. This gadget accounts for nearly 50% of the company’s American book sales, according to Steve Kessel, senior vice-president, Amazon.

For voracious readers, the six-inch Kindle offers a world of reading material at your fingertips. It’s as thin as a magazine, weighs less than 300 grams, has a day-long battery life and can store up to 15,000 books in its 2 GB memory. You can take it anywhere and download an e-book, as long as it’s covered by a 3G wireless network. This compactness and accessibility will cost you $279, or about Rs 13,100.

This isn’t the only e-book reader in the Indian marketplace, though. You can buy the samesized Sony Reader’s PRS-700 for around Rs 13,780, but it is not wireless and can only store 350 books. The iRex iLiad’s Book Edition is larger (with an 8-inch screen) and is Wi-Fi enabled but it’s also costlier (Rs 27,624) and users can’t download from the Sony or Amazon ebookstores.

While the Kindle has the strongest grip on the American e-book market, it isn’t the international version of the American Kindle that has been released in India. It is an American Kindle that’s available and functional in more than 100 countries. The Indian Kindle does not include a free blog subscription or Web browser access, which comes as standard with the US version.

The selection is also slimmer in India, where customers can choose from more than 2.8 lakh Englishlanguage e-books and various international newspapers and magazines. American customers, on the other hand, have access to 3.5 lakh e-books. The downloadable reading material also has a higher price tag in India. The New York Times best-sellers and new releases cost $11.99, or Rs 559 each, while they cost only $9.99 in the US.

But if you’re tired of lugging around a book, the international Kindle is a good buy. Amazon has a vast library and the Kindle’s storage space far exceeds the competition’s. However, it’s probably worth waiting for a full 3G network to roll out in India, when you might have access to the missing features, and for the prices to fall.

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