October 7, 2009, 12:00 AM

Amazon lowers the price for the Kindle and takes it international

Amazon.com Inc. has reduced the price of its Kindle to $259, down from $299. The largest online retailer also announced a new model with international wireless capability.

Amazon.com Inc. has reduced the price of its Kindle to $259, down from $299. The new price for the electronic book reader is 35% below its introductory price of $399 in November 2007.

The price adjustment could reflect increasing competition in the world of electronic book readers. The Sony Reader has been on the market for three years and is Amazon’s closest competitor with about 40% of the market, says Forrester Research Inc. Plastic Logic Ltd. and Irex Technologies offer e-readers and will debut wireless versions next year that will feature BarnesandNoble.com as their official e-books store. Digital reading also is spreading to mobile phones and potentially other devices.

Already 5.8% of consumers own dedicated e-book readers, and 11.6% plan to buy one, according to research firm In-Stat. Device-makers will sell 2 million e-book readers this year, Forrester says. Amazon’s Kindle owns close to 60% of the market, according to Forrester.

Kindle continues to evolve since its introduction two years ago. Last February Amazon released the Kindle 2, a thinner, lighter reader with extended battery life, faster page turns and repositioned controls to make turning pages easier.

As the price shrinks, content continues to grow. At its inception, the U.S. Kindle store on Amazon.com had about 90,000 book titles. It now has more than 350,000 books, including 104 of 112 New York Times Bestsellers, which are usually priced at $9.99 or less, Amazon says. More than 75,000 books have been added to the U.S. Kindle store in the last five months, the company says. Starting today, Lonely Planet travel guides also are available.

Amazon also announced a new model, Kindle with U.S. and international wireless capability, priced at $279. Amazon is taking pre-orders for the device and plans an Oct. 19 ship date. Kindle with U.S. and international wireless capability will enable readers to wirelessly download content in more than 100 countries and territories. “We’re excited to be able to lower the price and announce a new addition to the Kindle family -- Kindle with global wireless,” says Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “At home or abroad in over 100 countries, you can think of a book and download it wirelessly in less than 60 seconds.”

Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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