Amazon's Kindle e-book reader has been the one certified success in the electronic books market, but unfortunately sales have always been restricted to US buyers. That will change on October 19, when the Kindle will become available to customers worldwide.
Amazon will begin shipping an international version of the device for $US279 (about $320 at today's exchange rates), complete with a library of about 200,000 titles that can be downloaded. (That's not the complete range; the US Kindle boasts more than 350,000 books.)
What's not immediately clear from Amazon's announcement is just what (if any) partnerships it has in place to enable downloading of e-books over phone data networks -- one of the biggest selling points for the device -- outside the US. Here's what the release says:
Readers living in or travelling to Kindle’s 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. Customers who are not in the coverage area can quickly transfer content to Kindle over USB.
That would be compatible with a series of global partnerships (and Kindle's coverage map does include large swathes of Australia), but might also mean overseas Kindle buyers can only use USB unless they happen to be stateside. Update: an Amazon spokesperson told Lifehacker that 3G coverage for Australia will definitely be included, but that "the telco provider has not been confirmed just yet".
The device doesn't include the ability to read blogs or use a browser. Even so, it's nice to see such a widely acclaimed device finally available beyond US shores.