Amazon Launches Australian Ebook Store

Amazon has launched an Australian ebookstore today, offering over 2 million ebooks.

The site highlights various local titles on its front page, including Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, Tim Winton’s Eyrie, Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, Di Morrissey’s Tears From the Moon and Germaine Greer’s White Beech.

Amazon says Australian customers can access more than 700,000 books priced at $3.99 or less and more than 1.4 million priced at $9.99 or less.

Books and Publishing have done the sums: most Australian new release titles are priced at $10 to $20. While the pricing of many of these books is accompanied by the line ‘this price was set by the publisher’ on the site, others are allowing Amazon discounting.

Amazon is also launching an Australian app store, with local content, on the new version of its Kindle - the seven-inch Kindle FIre. Dick Smith and Big W will be selling the new Kindle in their shops.

‘After months of speculation, the news hardly comes as a surprise,’ says Andrea Hanke, editor of Books and Publishing. ‘It shows that Amazon sees potential for significant growth in the Australian ebook market. I imagine an Australian Kindle store will contain a broader range of local titles and offer more promotional opportunities for local publishers, which is good news for Australian Kindle owners and publishers. Interestingly, one of the posts on our blog that still gets lots of hits, even though it was published in 2010, is “Why can’t Australians buy the ebooks they want?”.’

Tony Nash of Booktopia, Australia’s leading online book retailer, told Business Review Weekly that Big W are ‘fools’ for compromising the sales of their book department by stocking the Kindle. ‘They’re selling a single device to someone then they’ll never walk in to buy a book ever again. Big W is one of the biggest booksellers in Australia and the amount of money you’ll make off selling an e-reader is bugger-all.’

Jon Page, general manager of Mosman’s Pages and Pages Booksellers and former president of the Australian Booksellers Association, has been one of Australia’s most outspoken opponents of Amazon. He made worldwide headlines earlier this year by instituting a once-a-month Kindle Amnesty, offering customers a $50 store voucher when they put their Kindles in a store-provided bin and bought Pages and Pages' own digital ereader, the BeBook Touch.

‘I hope that Amazon now have to comply with Australian copyright legislation, in particular parallel import restrictions, and that they pay their share of local taxes,’ he says. ‘If we can compete with Amazon on a level playing field, we can take them on. ’

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