news Online retailer Amazon this morning revealed it had formally launched an Australian version of its popular online bookstore, putting a formal face on a service which millions of Australians have already been accessing for years and further supporting Australian authors to sell their books online locally.
Australians have long been able to buy some Kindle models direct from Amazon, as well as purchase eBooks online through the company’s online store. However, unlike in the US and some other countries such as the UK, Amazon has never had a dedicated Australian online shopfront, with Australians instead using the company’s US site.
This morning, the company formally launched an Australian online shopfront to access its services. “Millions of Australians are already Kindle customers, and we’re delighted to make it even easier for them to enjoy the Kindle experience,” said Neil Lindsay, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. “The new Kindle Store is customised for Australian customers, with local best sellers and curated lists relevant to Australians, and many titles from local publishers and authors such as Tim Winton, Karly Lane and Kate Morton.”
According to Amazon, the new Australian Kindle Store offers over 2 million eBooks with over 26,000 free English-language titles; the latest bestsellers 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. Australian customers will also enjoy over 700,000 books priced at AU$3.99 or less and over 1.4 million priced AU$9.99 or less.
In addition, Amazon today announced that independent authors and publishers are now able to make their books available and earn a 70% royalty in the Australian Kindle Store using Kindle Direct Publishing.
Thousands of Australian authors are already using KDP, including Karly Lane, author of Burnt, and best-selling author James Duigan, author of The Clean & Lean Diet. “Bringing my Clean & Lean Diet print books to Kindle has been an empowering experience,” said Duigan. “Self-publishing with KDP has allowed me to connect directly with the people I want to reach with my message of kindness and acceptance. I’m so incredibly happy that the book is now accessible to a global audience.”
Along with the announcement of the Australian online eBook store, Amazon also announced that its new Kindle Fire HD tablet is available starting today at a suggested retail price of $189 at Dick Smith and Big W stores. The 7” Kindle Fire HDX will be available at a suggested retail price of $329 and the 8.9” Kindle Fire HDX will be available starting December 10 at a suggested retail price of $479. Historically Amazon has not made its high-end Kindle models available to Australians directly (although many Australians bought them anyway through third-party companies); these launches represent a change to that policy.
A few good steps by Amazon but nothing huge for Amazon to crow about. Apple has long been selling the same tablets in Australia as it does in the US. And Amazon has long been providing better online services to readers, authors, and hell, general consumers of a wide range of other Amazon-sold products in countries such as the UK. Amazon has a ways to go yet before it gets its Australian service up to par.
Over the past several decades Amazon has largely treated Australia as a massive customer sink which it can pull revenue from … and without contributing much tax or local development back. This is good first step (as is the company’s local AWS cloud computing datacentre), but I’d like to see a sustained, ongoing local development effort by Amazon over several years before I praise Amazon for its commitment to Australia.
Image credit: Amazon