Kindle comes to Australia

Australian Macworld staff
7 October, 2009
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Australians will finally be able to buy a Kindle – Amazon.com’s electronic ink display that wirelessly downloads and displays books, magazines, newspapers and personal documents – on October 19.

It’s available for pre-order from www.amazon.com/kindle for US$279 (about $314).

The device has a high-resolution 6-inch screen, is just under 1cm thin and weighs just over 280g. In other words, it’s pencil-thin and lighter than a typical paperback.

The Kindle is Mac-compatible via USB, but you don’t actually need a computer to use it.

The press release says “readers living in or travelling to Kindle’s 3G wireless coverage areas can wirelessly shop at the Kindle Store, download books in less than 60 seconds, automatically receive newspaper and magazine subscriptions, and receive personal documents – all without a PC, Wi-Fi hot spot, or syncing.”

In Australia, free 3G hotspots seem to be available in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. Outside those areas there’s EDGE coverage covering most major centres and patches elsewhere.

The Kindle Store offers international customers over 200,000 English-language books, including new releases and New York Times Bestsellers, which are typically priced less than physical editions. Over 1,000 different rights-holders now have books available in the Kindle Store, including leading publishers Atlantic Books, Bloomsbury, Canongate, Faber and Faber, Hachette, Harlequin, HarperCollins, Lonely Planet, Penguin, Profile Books, Quercus, Simon & Schuster and Wiley.

Over 85 US and international newspapers and magazines are also available in the Kindle Store for single purchase or subscription. According to Amazon.com, the Kindle’s electronic ink display reads like printed words on paper because the screen works using real ink and doesn’t use a backlight, eliminating the eyestrain and glare associated with other electronic displays.

Its 2GB of memory holds up to 1500 books, which are automatically backed up by Amazon so customers can re-download titles in their library – something Apple’s iTunes Store doesn’t do.

The unit has an experimental Text-To-Speech feature, which reads most newspapers, magazines and books out loud.

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