Amazon has announced that it will be shipping the Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G in the UK from today, seven days ahead of schedule.

The online retailing giant had announced last month that it would begin shipping the touch-enabled device to the UK from April 27, but a press release this morning has confirmed the latest ereader from Amazon will be sent out to customers who pre-ordered one from today.

"Orders from customers worldwide for our new line of electronic ink Kindles have exceeded our expectations," said Jorrit Van der Meulen, vice president, Kindle EU "Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G are the most full-featured e-readers available with a beautiful, latest-generation electronic ink display, fast page turns and long, two month battery life. We know that UK customers are eager to get their hands on these new Kindles, which is why we're delighted to be able to ship several days earlier than we planned."

Amazon said that orders for the Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G will be fulfilled in the order they were received and customers can now place their order online through the Amazon website or can pick up one of the new Kindles in UK retailers including John Lewis, Dixons, Argos, Carphone Warehouse, Currys, PC World, Staples and Tesco.

The Kindle Touch is almost identical to the regular Kindle, featuring the same 6in E-Ink screen but lacking the physical buttons for page turning. Instead readers will simply swipe left or right to turn pages

Amazon is selling the Wi-Fi-only version for £109 and the Wi-Fi plus 3G model for £169, which includes free 3G access to download books, newspapers and magazines wirelessly - all with no monthly or annual data bills.

Unlike the latest model, the Touch features text-to-speech which lets the Kindle read a book out loud if the user chooses; support for audiobook and MP3 file playback is also included. This is a throwback to the Kindle 3 which also offered MP3 playback and text-to-speech.

New to the Kindle Touch is X-Ray, a feature that lets users learn more about characters and locations featured in a book. Tapping on a character's name opens up links to every passage where they are mentioned, as well as offering more detailed information sourced from Wikipedia and Shelfari - Amazon's "community-powered encyclopaedia for book lovers."

There are already several touch-enabled ereaders on the market in the UK including the Sony Reader Touch Edition and the Kobo Touch. Indeed, Kobo told us at the London Book Fair earlier this week that it was the first in the world to market with a touch ereader and sees Amazon as its only viable competitor in the ereader and ebook market,

While the launch of the Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G is good news for fans of Amazon in the UK, a lot of people will still be interested to see when and if the Amazon Kindle Fire, the company's 7in Android-based tablet, will make it to this side of the Atlantic.