Well I'm not sure about Amazon having a big edge in the international space, the Amazon Japan page has a one paragraph explanation of the Kindle that then directs you to the Amazon.com site in English, they literally could not do any less to help sell it. They also have zero Japanese language materials available (i.e. no local publishers) and the device itself won't display Japanese characters or text files unless you use the Unicode hack. It's a very un-international international device.
To launch the device internationally you need relationships with publishers (shouldn't be a problem for B&N) and local 3g which is probably negotiated/handled by AT&T rather than B&N themselves. So I hope things aren't that grim.