When I wrote my open letter to Amazon Japan about the Kindle in Japan , we didn’t have a lot of options in Japan. If you live in Japan for any significant amount of time, you may end up accumulating books. Books are heavy and it means either abandoning them upon your return, or paying tons of money to have them shipped back to your home country.
The kindle would solve that problem, allowing you to have your books and read them too.
Recently, however, three developments have, um, developed to change things up enough to allow people in Japan a few more options.
First of all, the Kindle Wireless Reading Device (link goes to Amazon) is available now to people outside of the United States. Before, you had to order the kindle to be delivered to an address in the US. Now it can be delivered to Japan and used with Japan’s 3G network. You don’t get access to the blogs and news available through Whispernet to kindles in the US, and you can only access a limited number of English language books. If you are American and have a US address, it still may be in your best interest to buy the American version and download books via your computer. The Amazon kindle site says that since the rights for books are distributed on a country to country basis, you may find that your book is available for the kindle in the United States, but not in Japan.
Second, if you happen to have an iPhone in Japan, you can download the free iPhone app for kindle and use it to download kindle books. The kindle iPhone application is not only a great way to read books once you get used to the screen size and backlight, but it’s free! You can pay to download kindle books or access a lo of free books in the kindle library. The flicking motion to read the pages also has a good feel to it and is very easy to master. I’ve read a few books on it and the size and convenience (you always have your phone with you so you’re always ready to read) is hard to beat, even with a real kindle.
Another fantastic development out of Amazon is the Free Kindle for PC Software. The same books you read on your kindle are saved on Amazon, and can also be read on your computer on Amazon’s new software which allows you to conveniently read kindle books on your computer. The interface is much better than I thought and if you don’t mind reading books on your computer, is a great option. You can sync your downloads between your Kindle, iPhone, and computer as well which means you never have to be too far away from your extensive library.
I am still hoping that we will eventually have color, and Japanese language access on an ereader. If you look at the amount of paper that’s wasted on those thick manga in Japan you can see how much good a color, linguistically versatile kindle type e-reader device can do for the environment.
My final thoughts are that if you are in Japan, you can do well with the Free Kindle for PC Software (link goes to Amazon), and if you also have an iPhone, you can do even better with the Kindle for iPhone free application. You can now buy a Kindle and have it shipped to Japan, but by all means check the availability of the books you want to read first. They may not be available in Japan. The best option if you really want a kindle is probably to get an American Kindle Wireless Reading Device (link goes to Amazon) and have someone send it to you here.