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International Kindle Release – hmmmm

October 10, 2009

Amazon announced the release of the Kindle ebook reader to places which are not the USA amid quite a lot of fanfare this week. However, once the major fuss had died down, it became clear that this was not exactly the launch we had been waiting for, and consequently I am not buying one now, for three reasons.

First of all, it has to be purchased from Amazon.com. Now, usually this doesn’t bother me. I have an account there, I am not concerned about paying in US Dollars rather than Sterling, or anything like that. I frequently buy books from there if I am too impatient to wait for the UK release, and for several years I bought all my DVDs from there, just because the region 1 release was always earlier and had better special features. The difference with this though, is it is an electrical device. It’s supplied with a US charger, which won’t work over here, so you’d only be able to charge it via USB. Also, the product ships from the US store, so it will take a while to get here, and you will be liable for the customs charge. And, if Royal Mail should deign to deliver your parcel, their handling fee for the customs charge as well. If Amazon had just made a little effort and arranged for some stock to be over here ready for the launch, all that would be avoided. I wouldn’t even mind a couple of weeks wait for delivery whilst extra stock was brought in, if necessary.

Second, no-one has yet figured out how the ‘whispernet’ connection will work over here. There has been no announcement of a deal with any of the mobile networks, and until that is clarified, there’s no guarantee that the wireless downloads would work. I don’t know if this needs 3G coverage to work, but if it does, I’d only be able to use it reliably on Vodafone or T-Mobile, depending on which side of the city I was on. I do understand that some parts of the country get reliable coverage from all the major networks, but this is not one of them. And if they use 3, then there’s almost no chance of a signal at all within about 15 miles of here. One of the key attractions to me of this device is the ability to subscribe to blogs and newspapers, and also to buy a book from the Amazon store and download it directly to the device. No waiting. No needing to be at the computer. Is there anything better for someone with the attention span of a goldfish? If you remove this functionality, then why would I not just buy a Sony? To be brutally honest, they even look a bit nicer, but I wanted the Kindle because it had better features!

Third, and I admit this is a bit petty, but basically Amazon have made me cross with the way this has been handled. It smacks of looking for publicity in the run-up to Christmas. Everything about this launch appears rushed and badly thought out. I wish I could say it has put me off completely, and I now want a Sony for Christmas, but sadly it hasn’t. I still want one, unfortunately, but I am sufficiently annoyed to wait until there is a proper UK launch, with UK-compatible accessories, a UK Kindle book store, and details of how the wireless will work. Because if we don’t get that, then there really is no reason not to get a Sony, is there?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Rick Alford permalink
    October 11, 2009 8:11 am

    Lisa,

    I saw your post and wanted to amend one statement. The charger that comes with the Kindle is 110-240v, 50-60Hz. As such, it will work in Europe adn the Middle East with an adapter. I have the current Kindle DX, which I bought in the US and now use in Kuwait, without issue (minus the whispernet).

    Rick

    • October 11, 2009 9:19 am

      Hi Rick, thanks for this. I don’t know if it makes a difference but we are not getting the DX, we’re getting the 6″ original Kindle. It’s Amazon’s own info which says it’s a US charger, so I’m even more confused now!!

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