Kindle in Germany – German Kindle arrives with 25,000 German books

Amazon launched a German Kindle Store today and started selling Kindle in Germany straight from Amazon.de.

There’s a Press Release on the German Kindle available. This post has the key interesting details.

Kindle in Germany – Details on the German Kindle

  1. Amazon.de will start selling Kindles directly. Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi will be sold.
  2. The user interface for the Kindles will still be in English. Makes you wonder if it’s a bit of a rushed release.
  3. There is a German Kindle Store with 650,000 titles (English books, German books, and books in other languages).
  4. There are 25,000 German language books, including 71 out of 100 Spiegel bestsellers. Authors include Arno Geiger, Kerstin Gier, and Charlotte Link.
  5. There are also some German newspapers and magazines available, including Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Handelsblatt, and Die Zeit.
  6. There are thousands of German classics available for free in the German Kindle Store. 
  7. Kindle Reading Apps are now available in German - including Kindle for iPad, Kindle for iPhone, Kindle for PC, Kindle for Mac, and Kindle for Android. 
  8. Kindle Direct Publishing Service (self-publishing for authors) is available worldwide - authors can now sell their titles to Kindle owners in Germany via the German Kindle Store. The 70% royalty option is available with the usual restrictions (the book must be priced between $2.99 and $9.99, etc.).
  9. WhisperSync is available with all the usual features.
  10. Kindle WiFi is 139 Euros and Kindle 3G is 189 Euros. They are available with free 2-day shipping at Amazon.de.

Amazon is certainly making a lot of announcements right before its upcoming earnings release (April 26th, 2011). Perhaps it is buffering against something in the earnings release it thinks Wall Street will hate (such as a lot of investment in the Kindle).

Kindle in Germany – What does it mean?

  1. Amazon is finally moving beyond US and UK. It’s showing a surprising amount of interest in Europe by picking Germany as the third country to expand to.
  2. It probably means Amazon is going to keep setting up country-specific stores. Perhaps, eventually, Amazon will end up selling Kindles through Amazon Japan, through its Chinese partner/subsidiary, and through its other subsidiaries (Amazon Italy, Amazon France, Amazon Transylvania).
  3. The choice of Germany is a bit puzzling – Firstly, there are very strict book pricing laws in Germany. Secondly, it’s only got 25,000 German language ebooks.
  4. This move suggests Amazon is serious about selling books in other languages. At the minimum, it’ll take a shot and see how things go.
  5. It’s strange that Amazon would launch with only 25,000 German language books. Wonder what percentage of German book titles that figure represents.

It’s certainly an interesting move in terms of country and timing – releasing a German Kindle before releasing the Kindle in China, Japan, or an English-speaking country like Australia is puzzling. After the April 26 Amazon Earnings Release we might have a better idea why Amazon moved ahead with Kindle Germany and a mere 25,000 German Kindle books.

Kindle Interest by Country – Germany, UK, Canada lead the way

These are the countries that are the most interested in the Kindle based on Alexa information, Google Trends, etc. (see section at the end for methodology) -

  1. Germany – Kindle Germany is getting the most buzz among the Kindle sites although it’s only 5th based on Google Trends. German is the 2nd most popular language for Kindle related searches.
  2. United Kingdom - Kindle interest is huge in the UK. A very close 2nd. 
  3. India - Interest in Kindle is huge despite the concerns over price (more people search for ‘kindle price’ in India than any other non-US country).
  4. Canada – There’s no Kindle for Canada and still Canadians search for it a lot. Hopefully the ‘Amazon bidding Telcos against each other’ rumors are true and we get Kindle in Canada soon. 
  5. China – Another country that has huge interest in the Kindle despite the Kindle not being available. Chinese is the 3rd most popular language of searches.  
  6. Russia – Top 5 for some Kindle Sites. There are a decent number of Russian ebook sites so Russia might be in the Top 3 in terms of Kindle interest.
  7. Austria – Surprisingly high interest in the Kindle.
  8. Australia – In the top 10 for nearly every single Kindle site and search term.
  9. South Africa – Another country with a surprisingly high amount of interest.
  10. Italy – Was a big surprise to see more Kindle interest in Italy than in France.
  11. Spain – Another surprise because there are hardly any Spanish ebooks in the Kindle Store.
  12. France – A big surprise to see such little interest in the Kindle in France.
  13. Ireland – In the top 5 for some sites.
  14. Japan - The Japanese have surprisingly low interest in the Kindle (Amazon removed the Free Internet in Japan and they don’t seem to care). Could it be the popularity of writing and reading books on cellphones?
  15. Netherlands – Strong interest.
  16. Hong Kong – Very high interest for some searches and missing completely elsewhere.
  17. Denmark – A surprising large number of sources had Denmark in the Top 10.
  18. Philippines – Strong Interest across most sites and sources.

In addition to Canada and China there were a few other countries that were very interested in the Kindle despite it not being available -

  1. New Zealand – though they seem more concerned that Australia got the Kindle than the fact that they didn’t.
  2. Indonesia – Definitely a Top 20 country in terms of Kindle Interest. 
  3. Singapore – Another Top 20 country. Very high for some Google search terms.
  4. Pakistan 
  5. Turkey – Perhaps the only European country left out.  
  6. Belarus
  7. Saudi Arabia

Surprisingly Argentina didn’t show up anywhere.

Languages that had the most Kindle related searches

Languages according to Google (a rough ranking) -

  1. English 
  2. German 
  3. Chinese 
  4. Spanish
  5. Japanese 
  6. Italian 
  7. Dutch 
  8. Portuguese
  9. French.

These results should be of interest to Book Publishers in various countries. If Google’s relative scale is to be believed there is very healthy interest in ebooks in various languages. Plus it’s a market Amazon is not in yet.

How the Kindle Interest by Country List was Created

There were a number of factors mixed in -

  1. Google Trends for various search terms.  
  2. Alexa information for various Kindle Sites.  
  3. Google Analytics (only for one site). 
  4. Google News – Kindle News coverage was highest in UK, Canada and Australia.

Google Trends was weighed the most, followed by the various Kindle Sites. While there were some changes across the various measures the Top 20 did not change that much. In fact some countries were consistently in the Top 5. The list probably is 80% correct in terms of Top 20 countries. 

Kindle News Coverage – UK, Canada, Australia all complaining.

Interestingly it’s the $11.99 and $13.99 prices that have gotten the Kindle the most publicity. In both Australia and UK the press is up in arms over the ’40% mark-up’. It’s rather amusing because -

  1. Price in Australia is $11.99 (a 20% mark-up) and not $13.99. 
  2. UK has high VAT on eBooks, which combined with the AT&T data charge explains the higher prices (not saying prices are reasonable, just that there’s a reason for the higher prices). 
  3. The price of physical books (in most cases) and ebooks (in most cases) in UK and Australia is higher than the supposedly outrageous Kindle prices.

Canada and New Zealand are rather upset they don’t get the Kindle. There’s a lot of bitterness despite rumors in both countries that Kindle is on the way (Vodafone for Kindle New Zealand and Amazon negotiations with Telcos for Canada).

Most other countries have a few scattered articles.

There’s another wave of news coverage starting now that Amazon has introduced country based restrictions. Now people from every single country (including the US) will run into books in the Kindle Store they cannot download.

Why Muslim Countries and China didn’t get the Kindle

There’s a thread at MobileRead speculating on why Kindle was left out of some countries -

  1. A lot of the Middle East.
  2. China and Pakistan although India got Kindle Books.

One commenter might have hit the nail on the head when he brought up the strong censorship issues in these countries. 1984 is nothing compared to the headache and trouble Amazon would get from a country like China or Iran.

For example, Amazon sells Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses (not in ebook format). That might lead to certain countries banning Kindles, etc. The problem is worse because if Amazon were to restrict sales of certain books in certain countries they would take a PR hit in the US. It’s a lose-lose situation.

There are also a few other reasons that may be the main ones -

  1. A lot of these countries have English as a secondary language i.e. they just don’t have that big of an English market.  
  2. The whole reading right to left issue is a problem. Which might be why Israel didn’t get it either.
  3. China already has a lot of Kindle knock-offs and the Chinese Government tends to favor Chinese companies (they put in a law today restricting sale of virtual goods to only Chinese companies).  

A combination of those reasons is probably why a lot of Muslim countries and China didn’t get the Kindle.

Kindle Germany available now

Kindle Germany has arrived – it ships from the US, is available for preorder for $279 (plus custom duties and postage) and will release on October 19, 2009.

German business weekly Wirtschaftswoche is reporting (subscription wall so can’t find the article) that Kindle Germany is not going to happen anytime soon as Mr. Bezos has been unable to reach a distribution deal with T-Mobile and Vodafone (supposedly the two main wireless companies in Germany).

Update: Munsey already broke this.

Kindle Germany is not happening because of wireless fees?

Supposedly. Though there seem to be two main reasons -

  1. Amazon not being able to negotiate a Kindle Whispernet arrangement in Germany, as this german news site reports (courtesy Google Translate) -

    The online retailer Amazon waived a media report says the time being to be, “Kindle” reader in Germany on the market. Amazon-Chef Jeff Bezos könne sich nicht mit den Mobilfunkbetreibern auf einen Vertrag einigen. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos could not interfere with the mobile operators agree to a contract.

    Das berichtete die «Wirtschaftswoche» unter Berufung auf einen Amazon-Manager. It reported the “Wirtschaftswoche” relying on an Amazon-manager.

  2. The second factor is that publishers in Germany are refusing to lower prices for ebooks and that retail book prices in Germany are fixed by law. This ‘Amazon Kindle to Skip Germany‘ article from EarthTimes has some details. This means even if a Kindle Germany were worked out Amazon would have a hard time getting kindle edition prices to a price-point like $9.99.

If you can speak German, perhaps you can peruse the Kindle Germany articles here and let us know additional details.

What does this mean for Kindle in the UK and rest of Europe?

Not that much. It does indicate that Amazon is negotiating throughout Europe and that Germany didn’t work out. Hopefully the other European countries are working out.

Losing Germany is a big loss as its a top 5 technology market (as far as my understanding goes) and supposedly a bigger market than the UK. My feeling though is that the UK would be more important for the Kindle.

Kindle Germany, Italy, France; newspapers from Europe on the Kindle

Update: Kindle Germany, France and Europe is here. An international kindle for $279 has been released. It ships from the US so add on shippping and custom duties to get a total of $345 (217 pounds).

The countries that get Kindle include -

  1. Most of Europe.
  2. 174 countries worldwide. Only 81 of these get WhisperNet and these don’t get free Internet.

Check out my Kindle 2 International Review guide for more details and advice.

We now know why Amazon was adding newspapers from Europe to the Kindle Store.

Why is Amazon adding 2 German newspapers (Handlesblatt, WirtschaftsWoche ) to the Kindle Store?

The Newspapers section of the Kindle Store now has -

  1. 2 French language newspapers. 
  2. 2 German language newspapers (added today). 
  3. 1 Italian Language newspaper (added very recently — 2 weeks ago).

The evidence that Kindle 2 is going international grows stronger.

The number of Kindle & Kindle 2 owners in Germany, Italy and France couldn’t be that high. Nor could the number of French and German speaking Americans.

That indicates one of three possibilities -

  1. Kindle 2 is going to go international soon and Amazon is readying up content. The list of countries targeted (a lot of the european countries) indicates that Europe is the first market Amazon will expand to. Canada (hopefully) would be next.  
  2. Kindle 2 was supposed to be an international release and carrier negotiations in Europe broke down. Amazon decided to go ahead and license European content anyways (hoping that they would be able to work out agreements sooner rather than later).
  3. Mark Fidelman at Seeking Alpha has it right, and Amazon is looking at Publishing + Distributing Content, and not the Kindle 2, as their primary product -

    Amazon (AMZN) is doing a head fake. The company wants us to concentrate on the Kindle hardware while in fact it is cleverly moving into the book publishing and social networking spaces.

My money is on Option 1. Evidence keeps mounting up that Kindle 2 is going international soon – perhaps as soon as summer 2009.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,229 other followers