Reuters reported on Friday that Amazon is working to open a local subsidiary in Brazil, with plans to start selling ebooks and shipping Kindles later this year. That comes as no surprise to me, considering I reported pretty much the same news 4 months ago, with a slight variation 3 months ago.
My source at the time was a Brazilian business blog (found via a Brazilian ereader blog), and that earlier source has details that contradicts Reuters. According to my local source, Amazon plans to open a warehouse facility in Sao Paolo in September. They were going to stock smaller items and expected to ship a million orders this year.
According to Reuters, Amazon won't be opening a warehouse. Instead Amazon will take a digital only approach and launch just the Kindle Store. This is due to open in October or November and it will stock local titles as well as ebooks from international publishers. The warehouse operation might come at a later date.
Reuters is reporting that the local price for the Kindle could be around R$ 230, which would put it slightly higher than past rumored price of R$ 199. That's very slightly higher than the regular retail for the cheapest Kindle, but still cheap for the Brazilian market (import duties are ridiculous) where a Sony Reader Wifi costs R$ 400.
Update: Some of the details have changed in the source. The rumored price is now R$ 500, which comes to about $239 USD. That's a drastic difference and it makes me doubt the Reuters source even more than I did before.
The Kindle hardware and apps currently support Brazilian Portuguese, and the Kindle Store currently stocks around 5,400 titles in the language, or about half as many ebooks as currently available in that market. So a local Kindle Store comes as no surprise.
The absence of a retail operation does surprise me. Brazil has a population of over 200 million, making it a potentially very profitable operation for Amazon. Brazil's online retail market was worth an estimated $10.5 billion in 2011, and it is expected to grow 25 percent this year.
So which story is true? I'm going for both. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the 2 operations were being run independently; note that Amazon launched their website in Spain a couple months before they launched the local Kindle Store. Also, the Reuters story would tend to carry more weight if not for the fact they missed a couple details. For example, they cite Alexa as providing traffic stats (FYI: it's not reliable).
There's also a mention of Pedro Huerta, the head of Kindle Content at Amazon, but no mention of Mauro Widman, Amazon's local Kindle Vendor Manager ( ). As I understand it, his job is to sign publishers, and if Reuters didn't hear his name then it's a sign that the Reuters journalist doesn't have sources nearly as good as he thinks.