By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 11:58 pm
Haven’t bought a Kindle 2 yet? Good. Amazon.com, which knocked the price of its e-book reader down by $60 only last July, has cut it by another forty bucks. You can now buy one for $259–and while that may not be a magic price point, it’s a lot more tempting than the $400 that the original Kindle cost when it debuted a couple of years ago. The big Kindle DX, with its 9.7-inch screen, remains a pricey $489.
The price cut may be in part a reaction to Sony’s renewed vigor as a Kindle competitor, although the Kindle was already a deal by comparison to any of Sony’s models. (The cheapest Sony is $199 but has a smaller screen than the Kindle and no wireless; the wireless Sony costs $399.)
More intriguingly, Amazon has added a $279 variant that uses a GSM radio to let you download content in a hundred countries around the world. (In the U.S., it’s powered by AT&T; other Kindles use Sprint’s network.) You pay a $1.99 surcharge to download books outside the U.S. (reasonable enough) and the same fee to download a single issue of a magazine (pricey!). Amazon is taking pre-orders now saying the new version will ship on October 19th.
Folks in many countries outside the U.S. can buy this model, but Amazon hasn’t truly internationalized the Kindle: Non-U.S. buyers apparently have to order their readers from the U.S., and get a device with an interface and content in English, with a U.S. wall adapter. One presumes that now that Amazon has engineered a GSM electronic reader, we’ll see it start to roll out some truly localized versions in other countries before long.