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Another Price Drop for Amazon’s Kindle

Against rising competition, Amazon.com is cutting the price of the Kindle and taking its popular electronic reader overseas.

On Wednesday, Kindle prices drop $40 to $259, the second price cut in three months.

Amazon also announced a new $279 Kindle that will let readers in more than 100 countries wirelessly download English-language content. It's targeted at U.S. customers traveling overseas and English speakers living abroad.

"A book that may take two weeks to get shipped internationally in physical form can now be delivered in less than 60 seconds," Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos told USA TODAY.

The U.S. Kindle Store has more than 350,000 books, plus newspapers, magazines and blogs. Global customers will have access to more than 200,000 English-language books. "It's a substantial market," Bezos says. In the U.S., most Kindle best sellers cost less than $10. Prices for books abroad will be similar, Amazon says.

The new international Kindle ships on Oct. 19. It will look and function the same as the existing Kindle with a 6-inch screen. But for the first time, the wireless 3G cellular radio (from AT&T rather than Sprint as on the existing Kindle) will let overseas customers fetch content wirelessly. A larger screen DX international version is scheduled for next year.

Prior to this latest device, overseas customers needed a U.S.-based Amazon account and had to transfer books from a computer via USB.

In the U.S., Amazon has about a 60% share, according to Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps. But Epps says Amazon is feeling pressure from Sony and others. Sony recently unveiled a $199 Reader Pocket and is planning a wireless device. Barnes&Noble has deals with Plastic Logic and Irex Technologies on upcoming devices. Google has digitized more than 1 million books.

Bezos' long-stated goal is to make every book ever printed available in the Kindle format and available on many devices. He says you'll have to "stay tuned" for news on library books.

"We're lowering the price because we're able to," Bezos says. Kindle is the best-selling product across the millions of items sold by the online retailer.

Epps says that 2009 has been a "breakout year" for e-books. In a report out today, Forrester projects 3 million eReader units to be sold in 2009, about 900,000 during the holidays. It expects sales to double next year.

"This is going to be a big industry," Bezos says. "There's room for multiple winners."

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