The Kindle Digital Text Platform can now be used to sell books in English, German, and French. Before Friday, authors and publishers using the self-service platform had to be based in the U.S.
Amazon plans to add more language options in the coming months.
The expansion fits Amazon's strategy of providing more than just the Kindle electronic reader and digital bookstore. The retailer wants to build an entire ecosystem encompassing not just book lovers, but authors, and publishers, too.
Amazon's Kindle is the leading e-book reader, with Sony's Reader a distant second. Competition, however, is heating up. Bookseller Barnes & Noble jumped into the market in October with the introduction of the Nook and many new e-readers were introduced this month at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Forrester Research estimates 3 million units were sold in 2009 in the United States and expects sales this year to reach 10 million units.
Amazon, however, suffered a setback this week when four U.S. universities, under pressure from the U.S. Justice Department, agreed not to promote the use of Amazon's Kindle DX electronic reader in the classroom until the device can be used by students who are blind or have poor vision. The DOJ had sought the agreement under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability.
The Kindle DX, which has a larger digital paper display than the original Kindle, is designed for viewing professional documents, textbooks, and other content where a large screen is desirable.
Analysts believe that e-reader manufacturers could eventually find a lucrative market in high schools and universities, given the benefits of being able to carry all instructional material in a single, lightweight device. However, such an offering would depend on getting textbook publishers onboard, something they're hesitant to do until they can establish a profitable business model.