Amazon: “Our goal is to have every book, ever published, in any language available for Kindle customers to purchase and begin reading in less than 60 seconds.” So why is there no Kindle Sweden store?

Regular readers here at TNPS won’t be surprised by the headline. The Amazon Sweden launch has been long awaited.

But sadly the absence of a Kindle store too will come as no surprise, and in fact is entirely in keeping with Amazon launches in Singapore, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

From just the USA in 2007, Amazon opened Kindle stores in the UK in 2010, then dashed off four in 2011 (Germany, France, Italy, Spain) and five in 2012 (Japan, China, Canada, Brazil, India). In 2013 the pace slowed to just two new Kindle stores (Mexico and Australia), and in 2014 just one (Netherlands).

Since then, nothing.

As this post goes live we’re just two weeks away from the 6th anniversary (November 11) of the last Kindle store. And this week marks the fifth Amazon consecutive launch globally where ebooks are no longer part of the Bezos vision.

The Bezos vision?

As TNPS has explored many times, not least when marking the 5th anniversary of the last Kindle store, Kindle Netherlands, in 2019, Amazon carries this inspiring and exciting statement on its website:

Our goal is to have every book, ever published, in any language available for Kindle customers to purchase and begin reading in less than 60 seconds.

What’s especially noteworthy here is that Swedish, along with other Nordic languages, has been part of the approved-language list for the Kindle store pretty much since the Kindle store began, and Swedish language ebooks are readily available in the Kindle stores that do exist. But Amazon Sweden readers will have to visit Amazon US to buy them, and Swedish publishers will have to upload via Amazon US or an aggregator.

It’s a reminder that while Amazon may have started life as a bookstore, books are not central to its existence anymore. But we can take some comfort from the fact that Amazon Sweden launches with some books that Amazon has contracted with publishers and distributors, unlike in the other recent Amazon launches where the books are only from third party sellers.

Might things change in the future? Boktugg thinks so (see below), but don’t hold your breath waiting.

Teething problems

A quick tour of the Amazon Sweden site as launched today reveals some amusing teething problems, For instance I’m seeing currencies that ought to be in Swedish kroner (SEK) showing in Danish kroner (DKK).

Per above, Amazon’s Kindle supports the Swedish language, but there are only two Kindles available on Amazon SE and no-one bothered to produce a product image with Swedish content.

That’s insensitive on Amazon’s part but unlikely to bother anyone in Sweden. (It’s a well known fact that it’s the law in Sweden that babies are born fluent in English and never let us Brits forget it!)

Sölve Dahlgren at Boktugg, reporting that Amazon SE is notionally toting some 20,000 book titles, but it seems the reality may be a little different:

Customers of Amazon, which today launched its (Amazon Sweden) site are met by a book department that seems to be far from finished. Searches for well-known authors give hits where German and English editions end up before the Swedish ones. Lesser known authors are sometimes completely missing when searching by name, but can appear when you search by title or ISBN.

(The refernce to German titles being that Amazon SE was built off the Amazon DE site.)

Read more about the Amazon SE teething problems, according to Boktugg, here.

See further commentary and criticism of the Amazon Sweden launch over at Svensk Bokhandel.

Phase 2?

Just to add that Dalhgren takes a more optimistic view than I about the prospects for ebooks on Amazon SE in the future.

Why have the Kindle and ebook range not been launched. One guess is that a lot has had to wait until phase 2. Because we can probably be sure that this is only the first step in Amazon’s launch in Sweden.

Much as I hope Sölve is right on this, the evidence from every other Amazon launch in the past six years says otherwise.

Time will tell.