As someone who loves to travel internationally, here is my favorite news:
It makes the Kindle a travel guide, too: If you want the lowdown on a Kyoto temple, or are wondering where to get the best fries in Amsterdam, you can download a relevant guide on the spot. And for the first time, the Lonely Planet series will be sold on Kindle, along with the previously available travel books from Frommer, Rick Steves and Michelin. No wonder the Amazon press release has an ecstatic quote from AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson and not a word from Sprint honcho (and vanity TV pitchman) Dan Hesse.I've been puzzled why more travel guides haven't been offered on the Kindle sooner? With the ability to store travel guides on the Kindle (and even better to download them on the fly), that would significantly help reduce what I carry when I travel. (Between my Kindle, iPhone, and netbook, I've been able to shave several pounds off of my typical travel load -- which is already trimmed down to carry-on only.)
To make the international Kindle a reality, Amazon had to negotiate differing royalty payments depending on country of download:
Amazon staved off copyright problems by negotiating an arrangement with English language publishers that pays royalties depending on the territory of purchase. (If you buy a copy of The Perfect Thing in London, for instance, the UK publisher Ebury press gets the sale, instead of US publisher Simon & Schuster.) Still, the rights clearances aren’t yet comprehensive; of the 350,000 books in the Kindle store, only around 200,000 will be available in some countries.I wonder if this has anything to do with why it's taken so long to get the Kindle overseas? This helps illustrate that some of the biggest hurdles in bringing new technologies to market are often legal/contractual, not technical.
The article also mentions that Amazon is working to make it possible to read Kindle books on other platforms:
Bezos hasn’t missed the buzz about upcoming digital tablets. He says that Amazon is hard at work making software apps (like the one already available for the iPhone) that will extend the Kindle system to other devices. He’s also still open “in principle” to rival e-reader manufacturers who wish to use the Kindle store to provide content. But he feels that while people may read on phones and web-surfing tablets, the dedicated e-reading device will keep improving.With the slew of recent announcements of new eBook readers and rumors of new tablets coming out, I believe we are about to see eBooks start to really take off. Once the legal issues get hammered out, we may be witnessing the biggest change to books since the invention of the printing press.
Related: Will Books Be Napsterized?