Amazon is making its biggest push yet into the Australian market, launching an Amazon.com.au site for its Kindle content, offering pricing for books and apps in Australian dollars and opening up its Kindle Directing Publishing self-publishing platform to local authors. What does the change involve and is it worth switching to the Australian store? Find out in our in-depth launch guide.
Australia flag picture from Shutterstock
Amazon has officially sold the Kindle in Australia via its site since 2009 and through stores since 2011, but up until now content for the device has always come from the US store (or the UK store, if like me you find yourself wanting books from British publishers more often). As of today, there is now an "Australian" Kindle store, offering more than 2 million titles, of which 400,000 are said to be Amazon exclusives.
Those titles will be charged in Australian dollars. At the same time, Amazon is also pricing Android apps from its own App Store (which finally opened up to Australian customers in May) in Australian dollars. For both books and apps, Amazon has usually offered the option of charging in Australian dollars when you reach checkout from the US or UK stores, so you won't necessarily save anything on conversion charges this way. However, this approach does make the pricing more transparent, though we expect in some cases we'll also see the "Australia tax" kick in, with books costing stupid amounts more here than overseas.
Amazon has also finally started selling its Android-powered Kindle Fire ereader tablets in Australia; we've discussed those in a separate post.
What is the Australian Kindle book pricing like? Authors and publishers can set their own pricing, but Amazon says 700,000 of the titles initially available will be under $3.99, and 1.4 million will be under $9.99. Those are the same broad price points it promotes in US dollars. Note this means that 600,000 titles will cost more than $10, and that is bound to include some prominent new releases. There's also a Daily Deal special offering a locally-selected title at a reduced price for a single day. Update: We've carried out a more detailed pricing comparison.
So what happens if I already own a Kindle? You have the option of changing your account to be set in Australia, to take advantage of the local content and pricing. You won't lose access to any pre-purchased books, even if those titles are not available in the "Australian" store. However, newspaper and magazine subscriptions may not convert across (Amazon says it will notify any readers with current subscriptions of the potential impact before they make the change).
Is it worth switching? Depends on your reading tastes, really. 2 million titles sounds like a lot, but Amazon is shyer about sharing the numbers for its US and UK stores. It's worth checking if your favourite authors are available in the Australian store. If they're not, switching isn't a logical move.
Does the tablet launch also mean we'll get Amazon Prime movie and TV content? Alas no. Amazon says its long-term goal is to make content available in all countries, but right now it won't be launching any streaming content on the devices in Australia. This will be due, as usual, to painful and annoying rights issues.
Will we get the lending features available to US customers? Doesn't look like it right now, but we'll update if we find out differently.
So what's the deal with Kindle Direct Publishing? Essentially, it's Amazon's self-publishing platform; you can prepare and upload any titles you've written, sell them for whatever price you like, and keep (typically) 70 per cent of the price. That said, you need to be clear on what rights you're giving up and whether this restricts you; we'll cover this in a separate post.
Anything else we should know? As a side note, Amazon has signed a deal with Telstra to include the Kindle app on all Android phones sold on contract through Telstra. While we hate pre-installed carrier crapware, at least Kindle is an app many people will find a use for.
Excited by the expanded Android presence? Figure you'll stick with your existing account? Share your thoughts in the comments.