Hold on to your Christmas wishlists, everyone! Australian readers can now shop at Amazon’s Australian store. The Kindle Fire is now available, and two HDX models will be available before Christmas.
Industry insiders have been telling me for a few years now that Amazon has its eye on the Australian market, but for a while I had my doubts, given that Aussie readers pretty much have access to Amazon through their US and UK sites. So what if there’s the odd geo-restriction? It’s nothing an intrepid reader can’t circumvent.
But today, Amazon’s Australian website (amazon.com.au) is open for business, and although it’s all about ebooks, it’s probably a safe bet that Amazon will be looking to expand its Australian offerings in the future.
If you’ve had your eye on the Kindle Fire, you can purchase it from Big W or Dick Smith for $189 (you can’t buy it directly from Amazon Aus, although there’s a link back to the US site). Or you might want to wait for the 7″ and 8.9″ Kindle Fire HDX, which will be available from Big W and Dick Smith stores in a few weeks’ time. The 7″ version will be available from November 26 for $329 (you can read the specs here) and the the larger version from December 10 for $479 (you can read the specs here) . If you check the prices on the US site, the difference is around $70. You read the press release here.
The biggest impact that I foresee with a local Amazon presence is the availability and promotion of locally published books, which I expect to be a big focus for the Australian Kindle bookstore, and of course, pricing in local currency. Whether or not the ridiculous pricing of ebooks from traditional publishing imprints remains the same, well, time will tell. I’m also assuming that GST will kick in (although I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon finds a way to wiggle out of it.) According to the press release:
The new Australian Kindle Store offers over 2 million eBooks with over 26,000 free English-language titles; the latest best sellers such as At the Close of Play by Ricky Ponting, Eyrie by Tim Winton, Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough and Doctor Sleep by Stephen King; best-selling illustrated children’s books including the Mr Men series and Hard Luck: Diary of a Wimpy Kid; cookbooks including Asian after Work by Adam Liaw and Hungry Campers Cookbook by Katy Holder; comics and graphic novels like Batman: Earth One and The Walking Dead and exclusives from authors such as Germaine Greer, Karly Lane and James Duigan. In addition, Australian customers will find a broad selection of content from local authors including Rachael Johns, Sally Morgan and Kim Scott; Australian classics from Text Publishing; and titles from Indigenous publishing house Magabala books.
Lifehacker has more comprehensive information for readers thinking about switching their Amazon accounts to the local version, to take advantage of local content, pricing and deals. Basically, you’ll get to keep what you’ve already purchased, but subscriptions might be affected, so it’s worth checking if the benefits of switching over outweigh the risks. Also, there are still no lending features for us.
Authors and independent publishers can go through a local version of Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), earning up to 70% in royalties. However, the site was down at the time of posting this.
CNET also reports that Amazon’s Android app store will available in a local version:
the company’s own Android app store will be available in an Australian version, with local apps such as Quickflix and I Heart Radio, as well as Amazon’s vast collection of apps and games, with daily app bargains. The app store can be downloaded for Android devices and will come included on the Kindle tablets available in Australian stores.
According to Lifehacker, Telstra phones will come pre-installed with the Kindle app.
I had a quick look at the .au site, and I couldn’t see any information on affiliates, so if anyone has any information, please let me know in the comments!