Amazon Opens a Spanish Language Kindle Store

On Thursday, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) introduced the Spanish language Kindle and opened a Spanish Kindle store in Amazon.es.  The online retailer added Kindle stores in France and Germany earlier this year.  An Italian language Kindle Store was launched on Thursday along with the Spanish language store.

The Spanish Kindle Store hosts over 22,000 titles and includes 20 of the top 30 fiction and nonfiction bestsellers in Spain.  Independent authors can use Kindle Direct Publishing to publish their Spanish language Kindle books in Spain and 100 other countries worldwide.  Readers can also take advantage of a good sized collection of classics.

The Amazon press release noted that “Award-winning author and journalist Rosa Montero will offer three books exclusively in the Spanish Kindle Store, which were published using KDP: “La vida desnuda,” “Entrevistas” and “Lo mejor de Rosa Montero.”

Amazon Direct Publishing has given authors a chance to showcase their writing and provides them with success that they otherwise would not have achieved with the major publishing houses.

2011 has been a big year for Amazon on the international scene.  Amazon.es went online at the beginning of this year, and joined the other foreign language editions of the website.  The company is working hard to promote its bestselling e-reader internationally.  Kobo was the first to really push an international presence, but it looks like Amazon has caught on to that marketing strategy.  Customers outside of the US have mentioned in the past that they would love to be able to read their Kindles in other countries, as well as read books in other languages.

Spanish is one of the fastest growing languages worldwide, so it is only natural that Amazon should add a Kindle store for Spanish speaking countries.  I hope that the Kindle will continue to show increased success in Europe, and possibly venture into Asia and beyond at some point in the near future.

 

Amazon Launches an Italian Language Kindle Store

On Thursday, Amazon launched Spanish and Italian language Kindles, as well as Kindle Stores for both languages.  2011 has been a big year for the bestselling e-reader on many fronts, including a big refresh on the Kindle lineup.  Now it is time to take on the international scene.

Amazon.it’s Kindle Store opens with 16,000 Italian language titles, which includes a variety of Italian bestsellers and free classics.  The store also has over 800,000 books in English as well as other languages.

The Amazon Kindle is taking on the international marketplace by increasing its presence in Europe.  France and Germany were added earlier this year.  Hopefully the company will venture into more countries in Europe, Asia, and even Africa in the near future.

Italian language titles can be accessed on the Kindle e-readers, as well as on the Kindle apps for iPad, PC, Mac, and for smartphones.  So, if readers don’t actually own a Kindle, they still have a bunch of other options that allow them to read the books they want.

The press release announcing the new additions featured the Kindle Direct Publishing service that is available to authors worldwide.  This service puts both famous and independent authors on a more even playing field.  This year has seen a lot of new independent authors who have been quiet successful with sales of their e-books.  Kindle Direct Publishing has given authors a chance who otherwise wouldn’t have made it to the major publishing companies.

I’ve really enjoyed discovering new authors, and have found that many have exceptional writing talent. The addition of international independent authors makes it even better!

Italian language books are available to over 100 countries worldwide in addition to Italy.  This gives readers an opportunity to learn more about Italian literature.  I think it is important to get to know other languages and cultures because today’s world is so well connected on a global scale.

A good opportunity to have a good book: The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life

The Vegan Girl's Guide to LifeThere is good news from Amazon: you can get  The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life for $0.99 (vs. regular price of $16.95)

Vegan women everywhere are banding together in their efforts to be healthy, cruelty free, and environmentally responsible. This is their handbook. Melisser (known to most as “The Urban Housewife”) presents the basics of veganism for the newbies, lots of DIY craft projects, cruelty free, beauty tips, travel advice, recipes, and more. This book is not just for vegan girls—it’s also for anyone who’s interested in a cruelty–free lifestyle. Discover the best beauty products, fun vacation spots, plus an assortment of recipes including Jackfruit “Carnitas” Tacos, Twice Baked Chipotle Sweet Potatoes, Curried Red Lentil Veggie Burgers, Chipotle Hominy Stew, and Double Chocolate Cookies. Learn how to make recycled cake stands, find a cross–stitch pattern by Stitch’d Ink, and find out about natural beauty and cleaning products. Reading like a Who’s Who of vegan women, contributions of recipes and craft projects will be provided by some of the most respected vegan chefs and bloggers in the world (Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Hannah Kaminsky, Celine Steen, Julie Hasson, Kittee Berns, Kelly Peloza, and more). Full of photos and quirky illustrations, this is useful information with a punk rock attitude.

Here are some reviews on this book:

“Truly everything you need to know to be a happy, healthy vegan! It’s like a visit with all your girlfriends across the globe, doing everything from sightseeing and cross stitching to protesting and baking. When you’re ready to ditch the murder burgers, ‘The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life’ will be your fairy godmother lighting the way.” —-Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of “Veganomicon”

“I just received this yesterday, so I haven’t made any of the recipes yet. The book is stuffed full with timely, relevant info about leading a vegan lifestyle – vegan cooking/foods, vegan clothes and footwear, lists of vegan cosmetics companies on the Web, etc. Oh, and crafts, too! All presented in an attractive and fun format. I’m 44 and not all that hip, :), but I really like this book so far, a lot more than I thought I would. It’s more like a little reference book for vegans. I wish I had this book 3 yrs ago when I first went vegan. The recipes look great, too, can’t wait to try them. (Thank you for including a biscuits and gravy recipe!!) ”  —- B. D. Robinson

“I just received this book yesterday and I have already read the whole thing! The book is very aesthetically pleasing, with pretty page layouts and nice thick pages. There is basic info on animal rights, vegan nutrition, and how to deal with friends/family, which is to be expected in any vegan book. What sets this book apart is it’s focus on things that many other books overlook: makeup, tattoos, and more DIY things like crafts, homemade cleaning supplies, and gardening. Short interviews with prominent female vegan bloggers, business owners and artists are spread throughout the book.

The recipes are a nice mix between simple, quick eats and fancy, impressive entrees. I highly recommend this book and look forward to any other books Melisser Elliott comes out with.” —- margv

 These deals as the name implies are updated daily and usually entail Kindle eBook being sold for nominal $0.99. You can keep track of them here: The Kindle Daily Deal. Or you can follow our blog as we’ll keep track of these deals too.

No, The Kindle Fire Line Will Not Get Its Own Siri

Several weeks back, speculation rose about the possibility for Amazon’s following in the footsteps of Apple with a Siri-like product of their own for the Kindle Fire.  Siri, for those who aren’t aware, is a virtual digital assistant for the iPhone.  It allows users to conversationally ask questions and make requests that the software will try to accommodate.  For the most part it does an impressive job and when Siri can’t cope it will come up with a variety of witty or whimsical responses tailored to the user input.

The cause for speculation with regard to Amazon stems from their acquisition of Yap, a voice to text company whose specialty is transcribing voicemail.  While Amazon wasn’t mentioned by name in the acquisition, the company that Yap merged with lists its headquarters at an Amazon building.  There are a few reasons to make a move like this, of course, but it is fairly clear that the idea of copying Apple’s efforts was not one of them.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that Yap is absolutely nothing like Siri.  Yes they both involve accurately pulling information out of the spoken word, but that is as far as it goes.  Siri is an attempt at artificial intelligence that will try to understand user intent by pulling key words and phrases out of what it hears.  Yap’s specialty is simply putting words on “paper”, so to speak, in a cheap and fast manner.  Cloud computing is Amazon’s new big thing, of course, so the fact that Yap does its work mechanically on the cloud servers also fits in well with their philosophy.

What this could be a precursor to is an Kindle Fire type of smartphone.  While Amazon has not yet announced any official plans to add such a device to their growing selection of hardware, it’s a possibility.  The Yap software would be helpful for both its original voicemail applications as well as for voice commands, in this case.  The voice command idea in general would likely go over well on future Kindle Tablets, but since the only mic we’ve seen in a Kindle has been the disabled one inside every Kindle 3 it might actually be a bit surprising.   There is also the chance that this was simply a matter of acquiring Intellectual Property to guard against lawsuits and license to other companies.

Quite possibly my favorite potential use for this would be on demand transcription of audio files.  This would come in handy for practically anybody who regularly needs to deal with presentations or meetings, especially in business environments that require fast turnaround on their reference material.  That might be a long shot, though.

Regardless of how Amazon decides to actually make use of the Yap acquisition, there’s just no chance it will be as a Siri clone.  The Kindle Fire is great at what it does, but it lacks the hardware to make a Siri possible.  Even if that hardware were present, the speech to text component of such a feature would be only a small part of a huge endeavor.  It would be great to have that kind of capability, but it’s overoptimistic for the foreseeable future.