08 December 2011

Links, and Links: Italian, Spanish, International, Reciprocal

A week ago today, Amazon opened online Kindle stores in Italy and Spain. This means that residents of those countries can now buy Kindles locally (Italian link here, Spanish link here) and have immediate access at Amazon.it and Amazon.es, respectively, to close to a million ebooks--in Italian, Spanish, English and other languages (including Catalán, Galician and Basque)--including tens of thousands of free ebooks. Even the new Kindles themselves are polyglot: the user selects the language for menus, on-screen messages, default dictionary and such. And, like all other Kindle stores, the new ones for Italy and Spain offer free apps for customers who prefer to read ebooks on their laptops, smartphones or tablets.

The opening of a Kindle store in-country has always been a milestone in the 'maturing' of a country's ebook market. And there are implications for the rest of the world, too (as we've noted in talking about the coming of Kindle stores to Germany and France): among other things, the author of A Kiss Before You Leave Me will sell more copies of it in Italy and Spain, and Amazon customers around the world will have improved access to free ebooks in Italian (example here) and Spanish (example here of a work we've mentioned before).

Indeed, although I do welcome (on behalf of all independent authors and publishers of ebooks) new Italian and Spanish readers, along with all other readers internationally--the riches of Italian and Spanish literature and culture in general are so great that I suggest that the rest of us might want to respond, more than we have in the past, to their welcome to us. Let me just mention, in addition to the works of Pirandello and Cervantes for which I've provided links above, three of the greatest reads of the last few decades, all of them made to order for the book lover in you: Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, Arturo Pérez-Reverte's The Club Dumas and Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind. In addition to whatever else these novels have in common, they each have a power to fascinate and intrigue that cannot be contained within any one nation's borders. If there's a title in the bunch that's new to you, please check it out. And please share your favorites with the rest of us.

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