I have made a commitment to balanced blogging, since I Could Have Cats took me to task for my recent rant on the PIR debate. But then something like this comes along: Kindle hits Australia this month.

Regular Speakeasy readers will remember that one of the key issues preventing the sale of Kindle outside the US was the complexity of Amazon’s negotiations with local telecommunications providers, whose 3G networks are required for distribution of Kindle books. According to cnet:

A spokesperson for VHA said it hadn’t signed a deal with the bookseller. Telstra has yet to respond to queries. Optus said it "had nothing to confirm". On the site, however, it is possible to check wireless coverage that the device will access, which seems to be quite extensive.

So everyone’s being very coy, but if you compare coverage maps (and thanks to the very clever Mark Bahnisch for this tip), it looks like a pretty good pattern match for Optus. Don’t take my word for it.

Now, let us all take a brief moment to grok out on the fact that the gadget uses real ink. Mmmm, lo-fi…

I alluded to a little rant about this issue, and here’s the thing. Well, there are many things, as non-Optus (I’m postulating) customers will soon realise, but here’s my thing: Prices are all in USD! For some, this would be no biggie – your actual price information is just a conversion rate away. But it represents a barrier to the seamless integration of e-books into users’ experiences, one of the strongest benefits of digital publishing. It also makes me feel totally coca-colonised.

Still, if you look at this comprehensive list of kindle services, Australia is better off than most countries, especially Islamic countries, and even poor old Canada, still out in the Kindle wilderness…

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From Publishers’ Lunch:

Simon & Schuster is taking their successful Simon Spotlight Entertainment line and merging it with Pocket Books’ hardcovers and trade paperbacks to create a new imprint, Gallery Books. Pocket itself will return to focusing entirely on mass market publishing, as partner for all of the S&S imprints and continuing with paperback originals for "rising authors" such as Kresley Cole and Thomas Greanias.

The new line is expected to launch in spring 2010. CEO Carolyn Reidy writes to employees that "as a company we need to insure that each of our imprints has sufficient strength and support, especially in this difficult environment." Reidy notes that Gallery will have immediate strength in areas where Pocket and SSE "have already forged well-earned reputations, such as women’s fiction, pop culture and entertainment," while it "will also operate with a mandate to acquire top authors and hot prospects in a broad range of publishing categories, both fiction and nonfiction."

Large publishers often lack agility in the marketplace, constraining their ability to respond to economic and cultural trends. It will be so interesting to see how Gallery Books performs.

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Budding scriptwriters pease note, next week is your last chance this year to throw your hat into the Neighbours pool:

The Australian Writers Guild has once again joined forces with FremantleMedia Australia to present the Neighbours Scriptwriter Training Initiative. The initiative provides the opportunity for two writers to join the Neighbours writing team for six weeks as trainee storyliners and learn what it takes to write for Australia’s favourite serial.

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FYI, Speakeasy will now be posting once weekly, as we move into the production schedule for the next AWM print edtion.

Write on, everybody!

6 Responses to “Jack be kindle…”

  1. Graham Storrs,

    I hope you’re wrong about Optus being the Kindle partner. Where I live (near Stanthorpe) the ONLY 3G signal that reaches me is from Telstra (and that’s pretty weak.)

    It looks like I won’t be getting that Kindle for Christmas after all! On the other hand, I expect Sony will launch its reader here next year and maybe some others. Then there’s always the Apple tablet to lust after…

  2. Vicki,

    Before anyone forks out his/her hard-earned cash on a Kindle or any other reader, make sure the books you want to read are not geographically restricted!

    I’ve been an avid ereader for yours but now find I am unable to buy ANY of the books I want to read.

    This post today from TeleRead: http://www.teleread.org/2009/10/08/amazon-kindle-international-publishers-screw-readers-again

  3. Vicki,

    Oops… typo. I have been an avid reader for YEARS not yours. :-)

  4. Meg,

    Haha, Graham, sounds like you’ve got your Christmas wish list all sorted!

    I can’t wait to see how Amazon implements its Kindle roll out in Australia.

    Meanwhile, I’ll still be reading books on my iPhone…

  5. Meg,

    Hi Vicki,
    Thanks for the interesting link! I totally hear ya – so frustrating when the titles u want aren’t available. Still, I think the issue of territorial copyright is complex, & one of the things that concerns me about the Amazon/Kindle issue is the power it gives a bookseller over publishers. I want publishers to be able to protect their interests, as well as wanting accessible, affordable books. Yes, I want it ALL :)

    Cheers,
    Meg

  6. Sally,

    A lot of comment on the Kindle is missing out the crucial point that Australian publishers (and authors who hold the digital rights in their works) need to have a US address, bank account and tax number in order to put content up in the Kindle Store. This basically excludes most publishers and authors, other than those that are part of an international group (Random House, HarperCollins et al) – one of the reasons that there is very limited Australian content available on Kindle.

    There is one option for Australian authors and publishers who want to publish on Kindle. Red Hill Digital offers a distribution service that enables any publisher or author who hold the digital rights to their works to export their books into the leading online stores (Kindle, Soney eBook store, iPhone/Stanza, scribd.com etc). Robert Collings and I set up Red Hill Digital (sister company to Red Hill Publishing) earlier this year to give Australian authors a way to scale the e-barriers that are currently in place with Amazon etc.

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