**A little update: in 2009, Amazon began producing Kindle Wireless Reading Device (link goes to Amazon) that ship to countries outside of the United States, including Japan. One of my main reasons for wanting a Kindle in Japan (Japanese language books, full color manga) are still not offered. Also, if you live in a very rural area of Japan, please check Amazon’s map of Whispernet coverage before you buy. (If you live in one of these areas you can still download books with your computer. The same is true for people with a regular Kindle bought before the little internationalization. Also, please check the information specific to Japan (there is a link on amazon.com’s Kindle page to “see important information specific to your country”).
Dear Amazon Japan President Jasper Cheung,
Please hook up your loyal ex-pat community over hear with some hot Kindle action.
Places further away from the US with large ex-pat communities would be a great market for the Kindle. English language books are very expensive in Japan so you could even charge a bit more for downloads and we’d pay.
Some reasons I’d rather have a Kindle in Japan than in the U.S.
- I’ve accumulated a ton of books during my years in Japan. When I go back to the U.S. I have to either lose them or pay to ship them back. Books on a Kindle would not cause this problem.
- You have some very very good cell phone technology to work with here. The downloads would be extremely fast and you could probably even offer audio books here because of the connection speeds.
- We would be able to subscribe to U.S. newspapers on the Kindle. We can read them on the internet, but the NYT on the subway would be a nice way to start the day.
Possible reasons Amazon may be hesitant to sell the Kindle in Japan:
- Maybe the thing holding up the kindle in Japan is a deal with one of the cell phone providers.
- Maybe they think it’s hopeless because of the ubiquity of the cell phones, and how the international media seems to think everybody always reads novels on their cell phones.
- Maybe Amazon Japan doesn’t want to toy with a business model here that seems to be working well enough.
Next, the reasons I think the Japanese language market in Japan would love the Kindle:
- Most of the cell phone novels are written by amateurs. Although some have found commercial success, only a few have made it big… those that made it big, were subsequently released in paperback! If given a choice, people in Japan would rather read from a book as well. If the Kindle can provide the book experience in an electronic media, it’ll be a hit.
- Have you ever seen the weekly and monthly manga books like Shonen Jump? All the latest mangas are released in monthly and weekly editions before being serialized in book form. These books are big and heavy and use up a ton of trees. If people could subscribe to them in a Kindle and only have to carry that around, plus having a subscription so they wouldn’t even have to go buy one every week, you have a million seller there!
- People here like toys like the Kindle.
- A lot of people use public transportation, a lot of mobile internet surfing goes on during these long long commutes. A Kindle would be a nice way to pass the time.
- Amazon could market the Kindle as easier on the eyes than cell phones, and get people to start reading their news, blogs, and cell phone novels on the Kindle instead.
I think it would work here, so Mr. Cheung there are probably reasons I have overlooked so forgive me, but I feel I have provided enough good reasons to give it a try!