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Amazon goes global with new Kindle

The new edition of the e-book reader that can wirelessly download books in more than 100 countries. Also: a price cut for U.S. consumers.

Amazon's Kindle. Amazon

Amazon announced late Tuesday that it was introducing a new version of its Kindle e-book reader that can wirelessly download books in the United States and more than 100 countries.

The new device, which is expected to ship on October 19, is physically similar to the previous Kindle with a six-inch display. However, the new e-reader will be capable of downloading books and periodicals via wireless networks belonging to AT&T and its international partners.

"We have millions of customers in countries all over the world who read English-language books," Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. "Kindle enables these customers to think of a book and download it wirelessly in less than 60 seconds."

The online retailer also announced that it would cut the price of its U.S. Kindle by $40 to $259, bringing it more in line with Sony's Reader Pocket Edition, which sells for $199. The price cut is the second for Amazon's e-reader in four months: in July, the price of the Kindle 2 dropped from $359 to $299. Amazon also sells a larger version called the Kindle DX for $489.

The Seattle-based e-tailer said international customers will have access to about 220,000 book titles at its Kindle Store compared with the 350,000 titles available to U.S. customers. Publishers involved with the store include Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Lonely Planet, Harlequin, Penguin, Bloomsbury, and Hachette.

With the announcements, Amazon is attempting to position itself for a boom in e-reader sales that Forrester Research expects in the U.S. over the next few years. In a report to be released Wednesday, Forrester Research raised its 2009 forecast for e-reader sales in the United States to 3 million units from its previous prediction of 2 million sales. Forrester Research also expects Amazon's Kindle to command about 60 percent of the e-reader market in 2009, compared with 35 percent for Sony's Reader.

"This holiday season, eReaders will be one category that's a breakout success," Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps said in the report. "Lower prices, more content, better distribution, and lots of media hype are contributing to faster-than-expected adoption of eReader devices in 2009."