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October 8, 2009

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Kindle price cut to spark sales

AMAZON.COM Inc is cutting the price of its Kindle electronic-book reader yet again and launching an international version, in hopes of spurring more sales and keeping it ahead of a growing field of competitors.

With yesterday's US$40 reduction on the Kindle, the device now costs US$259. It debuted in 2007 at US$399 and started this year at US$359, before another price cut in July.

In hopes of stimulating more growth, Amazon also will start selling a US$279 version of the Kindle that will work in 100 countries and be sold to readers outside the United States. This Kindle will begin shipping on Monday in Australia, Japan, India and Germany.

The current Kindle can wirelessly download content in the US over Sprint Nextel Corp's network, but outside the country you must connect it to a computer with a USB cable to add content. The international version will be able to wirelessly download content over AT&T's network around the world.

In an interview, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the company can now afford to reduce the price of the Kindle sold in the US because of the increased number the company is making -- and selling.

Bezos called it Amazon's best-selling product, but Amazon has not disclosed sales figures for the Kindle, which has a 6-inch (15-centimeter) screen that displays shades of gray, room to store 1,500 books and the ability to download books wirelessly.

The price cut also shows Amazon is trying to maintain a lead in the nascent e-reader market as the field gets more crowded.

According to a report released yesterday by Forrester Research, e-reader sales will total an estimated 3 million this year, with Amazon selling 60 percent of them and Sony Corp 35 percent.

Sony offers a US$199 "Pocket Edition" e-reader and larger US$299 touch-screen model, and in December it will offer a US$399 model that can wirelessly download books rather than needing a connection to a computer.


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