Amazon launches German Kindle store with fixed prices

More than three years after it was introduced in North America and eight months after the UK become the first country outside of the US to get a dedicated Kindle store, Germany has followed suit. The German Kindle store was launched on Amazon.de today (21st April), boasting the largest selection of any e-bookstore in the German-speaking countries.

But while the shop gives access to 650,000 international e-books, as of now only approximately 25,000 are German-language titles, including thousands of classics that are downloadable for free only on Kindle. In accordance with Germany’s fixed book prices Amazon charges Kindle e-books at prices set by the publishers. Lübbe for example has priced Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol ("Das verlorene Symbol") at €8,49, only 15% below its paperback edition. The top selling title on launch was British author Simon Beckett's The Calling of the Grave ("Verwesung") priced at €19.99.

With the Kindle store the latest generation of the Kindle device and Kindle 3G are now also available for the first time directly from Amazon.de "in response to customer demand". But critics have already highlighted the fact that the e-readers are only available with an English keyboard and English-language menus. A German Kindle version is reportedly in the making, but no date has been set yet for its launch. Both Kindle devices are available with free two-day shipping from Amazon.de. Kindle is competitively priced at €139 (£123) while Kindle 3G costs €189 (£167).

Amazon has also made its free "Buy Once, Read Everywhere" Kindle apps available for iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac and Android-based devices in a German translation. Top German and international newspapers and magazines are also available for single purchase or subscription as are the services of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

Speculation that the launch of a dedicated German Kindle store was imminent gathered momentum earlier this year, when Random House and other major German publishers started to add their titles to the international store.