Were you aware that even people who don’t live in the United States are interested in the Kindle? I was shocked. Ok, well, not that shocked. Lame attempts at humor aside, Amazon has just opened up a localized Kindle store for German readers. While this is a mixed blessing, which I’ll get into in a moment, the fact that more countries are getting their own Kindle stores is always going to be good news for the residents thereof.
The roll-out for the German store seems to have gone fairly smoothly. Where before the only way to get a Kindle in Germany was to order through the US Amazon store, it is now available directly through Amazon.de and ties into the associated Amazon.de user account. Customers can already choose from over 650,000 titles (including 71 of 100 Spiegel bestsellers according to the press release), thousands of self published German authors using the Kindle Direct Publishing service, and a good selection of popular international and German magazines and newspapers. All of this is available to users of both the Kindle eReader itself and the Kindle app family, including the PC, Mac, iOS, and Android programs.
All in all, great news for fans of the Kindle outside the US. Who hasn’t heard of the complications facing people who try to import their eReader into an unsupported area, right? The only people who are going to end up with real problems are those who wanted one badly enough to go out of their way and grab a US release. These “early adopters” are likely to find themselves in the unpleasant position of having to choose between the books they have already acquired through Amazon and the benefits provided by the new store. As many UK customers can attest, digital rights management in an international environment can create problems from differing availability and pricing to seemingly arbitrary exclusivity issues. It is to be hoped that the worst of this will be avoided in this case since the Amazon.de Kindle Store is catering more specifically to German-language eBook options than the US store has so far and as such will experience minimal overlap, so maybe this won’t be quite as noticeable as the US/UK divide seems to be?
The question this inevitably seems to lead to is whether or not this sort of thing will lead to a true localization of hardware to go along with the international store presence. At the moment German customers will still receive Kindles with English keyboards and interfaces, and the same sort of issue seems to be present in the menus for the app selection as well. Whether the Kindle line makes the move to Android, as many have thought likely, or they simply keep going on the existing modified Linux build, it would seem to be both fairly simple and a good idea to make the software as accessible to everybody as possible. That just leaves modifying the keyboard which would, admittedly, likely cause problems with the whole form factor production. A great deal seems like it depends on the success of this and other new stores.