Amazon is to shake up the books and fashion markets ahead of Christmas with the international launch of its Kindle e-reader and a new clothing outlet.

Kindle will be available in the UK and 100 other countries from October 19, but must be ordered from rather than The device costs $279 (£175) and customers can download over 200,000 books to it, as well as magazines and newspapers.

Alex Burmaster, internet analyst at Nielsen Online, said that the timing of the launch should give it “kudos” and a “must-have” appeal during the festive season. “This could be the iPhone for the literati,” he said.

Burmaster said Kindle would not represent the death knell for the printed book and that the launch could be very positive for the book industry as a whole. “This could encourage people to read who have not for a long time – ultimately what the book industry wants,” he said.

But one industry source believes it may take time for the technology to gain popularity, and shipping from the US could limit its initial success.

Waterstone’s commercial director Neil Jewsbury said: “The ebook market is the most rapidly growing area of the book trade at present and it is no surprise to find other businesses adding devices to the digital arena. Waterstone’s has experienced great success with the Reader from Sony since its launch in 2008.”

Amazon UK has also launched a clothing outlet on its site, in a beta version, carrying brands including Adidas, Nike and D&G at between 50% and 70% off retail prices. 

Retailers have found discount sites a key tool in the recession. Launches have included JD Sports Fashion’s Getthelabel, Asos’s Outlet and, most recently, eBay’s outlet offer.

Amazon also launched standalone shoe site Javari last week, with 140 brands of footwear and handbags. The site is separate – although linked – from the main site.