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Tuesday, 21 October 2008 18:22

Euro carriers put kibosh on Kindle for Christmas

Europeans wanting a mobile device for reading texts this Christmas might have to stick to a good old fashioned paperback. Certainly, the chances of Santa stuffing an Amazon Kindle in their stocking are slim to say the least.

Amazon put the electronic paper display driven Kindle e-book reader on sale in the US nearly a year ago. It is keeping quiet about sales figures, but the buzz online is that in excess of a quarter million units have been shifted so far.

The success of the Kindle comes as little real surprise, given the position Amazon holds in the bookseller market these days. Throw that ready made, tech-savvy audience a delicious bone in the form of a wireless, high-resolution, portable e-book reader and they are almost guaranteed to start biting.

As long as they are in the US, that is. Over here in Europe we have been patiently waiting for a chance to get out grubby little mitts on the Kindle. Unfortunately it seems that the wait is to go on, and on. According to The Bookseller which interviewed the Managing Director of Amazon UK, Brian McBride, there will be no Kindle here until after Christmas.

Certainly the much rumoured European release date to coincide with the Frankfurt Book fair last week was a non-event. And who is to blame for the seemingly illogical delay between that successful US launch and a European one?

Amazon says it is all down to the complexity of the wireless networking carriers in Europe compared to the relative simplicity over in the States.

McBride explains that to use the Kindle you need wireless access, if you need a wireless carrier in the US there is an agreement with Sprint EVDO (whispernet) which covers the entire country. "If you buy a Kindle in the UK and want to read it on the beach on holiday in Spain" he says "unless we have signed deals in Spain it is not going to work on that beach."

So until Amazon has deals in place for Europe-Wide wireless coverage, there will be no Euro Kindle. How long do we have to wait? According to McBride that is not clear but likely to be "some time next year."

In the meantime, there are viable alternative devices, including the best of all which has a long and proven track record: the paperback...

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