Seattle - Amazon announced a new U.S.-plus-International version of its Kindle e-reader that works in 100 countries using AT&T service, to be available Oct. 19 at $279.
In addition, the company is lowering the price of its basic U.S.-only Kindle with a 6-inch screen to $259, down from $299.
The new Kindle gives U.S. business travelers a device that can work overseas and opens up the Kindle to an International audience just as a competing iRex Technologies e-reader is about to ship with International capability.
U.S. consumers can now either buy a U.S.-only 6-inch Kindle using Sprint service or the new International version using AT&T service for an additional $40.
A step-up U.S. Kindle DX with a 9.7-inch screen is also available.
"These are smart moves for Amazon, as a good proportion of early Kindle adopters have been business travelers, who were frustrated by the inability to download new books outside the country," said Larry Fisher, research director of NextGen Research, an arm of ABI Research. He added, "It also opens up the rest of the world as potential markets for Amazon and the Kindle, at a time when competing e-book readers have been trying to make the transition from other countries to the US market."
Amazon claimed the Kindle is "the most wished for, the most gifted and the No. 1 best-selling product across the millions of items we sell on Amazon," according to CEO Jeff Bezos. He said of the new International Kindle: "At home or abroad in over 100 countries, you can think of a book and download it wirelessly in less than 60 seconds."
The International Kindle has a 6-inch screen and a 3G wireless connection for downloading books over the air from the Kindle store on Amazon.com, which offers more than 350,000 books as well as newspapers, periodicals and blogs.
Amazon also announced that "Lonely Planet" travel guides will now be available on the Kindle store.
The International Kindle can store up to 1,500 books, and has a text-to-speech feature for "reading aloud" books. It measures about a third of inch thick and has an instant dictionary lookup.