Amazon will not release its Kindle Paperwhite device in Europe this year, as the etailer prepares to sell its Kindle Fire across the continent.
An Amazon spokesman told The Bookseller that there “was no timetable for a Paperwhite European launch. At the moment, it’s a US-only product”. However, together with the announcement of the two tablets heading to Europe, Amazon also reduced the price for the cheapest Kindle model to €79 from €99.
As part of Amazon’s product launch on 6th September, the online giant announced it would be selling the Kindle Fire in Europe for the first time. The tablet will be sold through Amazon’s German, French, Italian and Spanish sites from 25th October.
The Kindle Fire HD is priced in the Amazon European stores at €199 with 16GB storage and €249 for the 32GB version. Also available will be a modified version of its first-generation Kindle Fire, which will sell at €159. Kindle Fire HD, the “most advanced 7-inch tablet worldwide” according to an Amazon statement, is the biggest tablet the company is offering outside the US. Free with every purchase of either tablet will be a one-month membership of Amazon Prime and Lovefilm.
Amazon’s launch of the tablet, rather than a new dedicated e-reader, chimes with European publisher attitudes about what devices their readers will be using. In Europe’s biggest books market, Germany, for example, 90% of publishers believe that it will be tablets, rather than dedicated e-readers which will dominate the digital market, according to a study released in May by the German booksellers association Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels and analysts GfK Panel Services.
Digital reading in Germany remains low, however. The Börsenverein/GfK study showed that while e-book sales increased 77% in 2011 over 2010, they still account for just 1% of Germany’s €5.5bn books market.
Part of the low e-book take up thus far has been due to the lack of content. When the Kindle launched in 2011 in Germany, it had 625,000 titles, yet only about 25,000 were German language, and the Kindle it sold initially had an English keyboard and English-language menus.
However, Amazon is ramping up its German-language range. According to Jorrit van der Meulen, vice-president of Kindle Europe, the range of German-language e-book titles has quadrupled since 2011.