Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Amazon Gives the Kindle a Price Cut, Takes It Overseas

kindle_angle_with_textHad to see this one coming: Amazon is chopping the price on its plain-vanilla Kindle e-book reader and is introducing a new version that will allow users to download books when they’re outside the U.S.

Amazon’s (AMZN) basic Kindle will now sell for $259, down from $299–and down from $359 earlier in the year. And the new version, which will allow users to download books in 100 countries besides the U.S., will sell for $279. It will be powered by a wireless connection provided by AT&T (T); the U.S.-only Kindle will continue to use Sprint (S) for a wireless connection.

Is there a catch? Maybe. Anti-Amazon gadfly Tom [Redacted!] (Tom, what do you do when you’re not emailing us this stuff?) points out a bit of fine print on Amazon’s order page: If you take your new Kindle outside the U.S. and try to actually buy something–or simply redownload something you’ve already bought–Amazon will charge you two bucks.

Here’s the fine print, which didn’t seem to make it into the press release–or (cough) the embargoed stories: “When traveling abroad, you can download books wirelessly from the Kindle Store or your Archived Items for a fee of $1.99.”

Still, it’s hard to see how Sony (SNE), whose comparable e-reader only offers a U.S. wireless connection (also from AT&T) and is scheduled to go on sale in December for $399, will be able to stay at that price point. And dark-horse Kindle competitors like iRex and Plastic Logic are going to have match or beat Amazon just to get into the race.