Kindle International Review, Availability

This is a Kindle 2 International review, availability guide. Since Kindle International Wireless version is the exact same device as the Kindle 2 (only difference is the wireless service and the HSDPA card) we can break the review into two parts –

  1. Review of the Kindle 2. For this, my Kindle 2 review based on 6+ months of ownership should suffice. It’s an 8.5 out of 10 in my opinion and the best eReader currently available.  
  2. Review of the WhisperNet features of the Kindle International. This is what this kindle international review will focus on as they are quite different. 

How is Kindle International different from Kindle 2?

Let’s take UK as an example –

  1. Custom Duties and Shipping takes the price from $279 to $345 (roughly a 25% increase). That’s 217 pounds to get a Kindle 2 International.
  2. There is Free 3G Wireless to get your books wirelessly – However, the experimental web browser is not available which means NO free Internet.  
  3. In countries with WhisperNet Wikipedia access is included – However, only to the English Wikipedia.
  4. Blogs are not available.  
  5. There are 280K books available instead of the 350K available in the US. This varies a lot by country – the kindle 2 international product page has details.
  6. Book Prices are $11.99 to $13.99 instead of $9.99 – although they include VAT in the UK.
  7. The data transfer fee for personal documents (if you transfer them wirelessly) is a ridiculous $1 per MB.

Also it seems like you’ll have to get a physical UK to US plug to use with the power adapter.

There are three categories of countries –

  1. Those that get Whispernet and no Free Internet. 
  2. Those that get Kindle but no wireless access.
  3. Those that do not get the Kindle. 

There are three exceptions – Japan, Mexico and Hong Kong which get free Internet and blogs.

Kindle International Review for Countries with No Free Internet

This includes most of Europe, and a lot of South America, India, etc.

The main disadvantages for kindle owners in these countries (see next section for complete list) seem to be –

  1. Custom Duties and Shipping. This adds approximately 25% to the price (based on the UK – it might be more for your country). You would have to pay some amount for shipping even in the US so its more like a 20% premium.
  2. No Free Internet – this is a top 5 Kindle benefit (although not in the Top 3) and does reduce the value proposition a bit. 
  3. High charges for transferring personal documents. This limits the usefulness of the Kindle International version if you planned to transfer a lot of personal documents and PDFs.
  4. Slightly higher book prices and slightly lower range.

Do note that Sony had only 50,000 or so titles available in the UK so the Kindle International having 280K is a huge jump.

On the plus side, the main benefits of the Kindle are still preserved in Kindle 2 International version (in these countries) –

  1. A screen that is great for reading.
  2. A device that is optimized for and focused on reading.
  3. 60 second wireless downloads and always on Store.
  4. A wide range of available titles.
  5. Wikipedia Access for reference (only the English version).

I would say that Kindle International (in countries that have WhisperNet) is still a 8 stars out of 10 eReader.

Countries that get Kindle International and WhisperNet (the limited version)

The grand list of countries –

  1. Albania, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia (there is a separate page to order Kindle for Australia), Austria.
  2. Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria.
  3. Cayman Islands, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic.
  4. Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador.
  5. France, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guam, Guatemala, Guyana.
  6. Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong (gets blogs and browser too), Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy.
  7. Jamaica, Japan (gets blogs and browser), Kenya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg.
  8. Macao, Macedonia, Mexico (gets blogs and browser), Montenegro, Montserrat.
  9. Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia.
  10. Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland.
  11. Taiwan, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands.
  12. Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, Virgin Islands (British and US).

Kindle 2 International Review for Countries that do not get wireless downloads

This includes a lot of African countries (Congo, Zambia, Uganda) and a few Asian and European countries (Monaco, Cyprus, Finland).

For these countries  –

  1. You lose the benefit of 60 second downloads.
  2. You lose the wireless connection to the kindle store (which is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day).
  3. You lose Wikipedia access.

My experience with the Kindle in Canada has been good even without wireless access so the Kindle 2 still gets 7.5 stars out of 10 in these countries.

You can buy books from Amazon and then download them and transfer to the kindle 2 via USB.

Countries that get Kindle International but do not get WhisperNet i.e. No Wireless Service.

The grand list of countries that get Kindle International without wireless –

  1. Kindle – Aland Islands, Algeria, American Samoa, Andorra, Angola, Armenia.
  2. Kindle – Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Burundi.
  3. Kindle – Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Cote dIvoire.
  4. Kindle – Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, French Guiana, French Polynesia.
  5. Kindle – Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland.
  6. Kindle – Georgia, Greenland, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Guinea Bissau, Holy See, Jersey, Kiribati.
  7. Kindle – Lao, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Lithuania, Madagascar,  Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritius, Mayotte, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar.
  8. Kindle – Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea.
  9. Kindle – Rwanda, Reunion, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Swaziland.
  10. Kindle – Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wallis and Futuna, Zambia, Zimbabwe.     

Countries that do not get Kindle International 

These countries miss out totally (Canada being left out makes me sad although Amazon note they are working on getting Kindle Canada in place) –

  1. Afghanistan, Antarctica, Argentina, Azerbaijan.
  2. Bouvet Island, British Indian Ocean Territory, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso.
  3. Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, Cuba.
  4. Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, French Southern Territories, Gambia, Ghana, Gibraltar, Guinea.
  5. Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Isle of Man, Israel.
  6. Jordan, Kazakhastan (Borat is disappointed), Korea (North and South), Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan.
  7. Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco.
  8. New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Pitcairn.
  9. Qatar, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Helena, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia.
  10. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Sudan, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Syrian Arab Republic.
  11. Tajikistan, Thailand, Tokelau, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan.
  12. United Arab Emirates, United States Minor Outlying Islands, Uzbekistan, Western Sahara, Yemen.    

The surprising exclusions to the Kindle International release include Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Argentina, China and Turkey.

Kindle International Availability – Thoughts.

The Kindle International version is a big step forward by Amazon. They have managed to add –

  1. Kindle 2 with wireless store and free Internet in 3 countries – Japan, Hong Kong, and Mexico.
  2. They have gotten Kindle 2 with the wireless store into an astonishing 81 countries. 
  3. Finally, they have made the Kindle 2 without wireless available in another 90 countries.

A few hours ago we had Kindle 2 available in 1 country. Now its 175 countries. That is impressive and the Kindle International team deserve a ton of credit for getting wireless agreements in 81 countries.

In terms of Kindle 2 International and Continents –

  1. Kindle availability in Europe is really good, usually with WhisperNet.
  2. Kindle availability in South America is pretty good. 
  3. Kindle misses China but gets the other Asian giant India.
  4. Africa gets pretty good coverage.
  5. Kindle is now available in a surprisingly large number of smaller countries.

With Kindle International Amazon seem to have made a conscious effort to cover english speaking countries and countries that use the English alphabet.

0 thoughts on “Kindle International Review, Availability”

  1. I just noticed this on the Amazon Kindle page:

    “When traveling abroad, you can download books wirelessly from the Kindle Store or your Archived Items for a fee of $1.99”

    It seems to me that if I buy a Kindle in the US, or any other market and then go to another country there will be a $1.99 surcharge on my purchases. I don’t know how I feel about that. Would I rather plug my Kindle into my laptop and avoid the $2.00 charge? Probably…

  2. Just spotted this as well:

    “For U.S. customers traveling abroad, a $1.99 fee currently applies when downloading books or single issues of periodicals wirelessly from your Archived Items or the Kindle store while roaming internationally. For details on periodicals and personal documents, click here. To avoid any fees, you can always download books, periodicals, and personal documents via your computer and transfer to your Kindle using USB.”

    I really don’t know how I feel about this. ON the one hand it would be nice to have the option when traveling abroad, on the other hand why would Amazon tack on this fee? Clearly it already has agreements in the countries you would be able to use it in, why add on $2.00 for a customer to use it abroad?

    I hope you address this in a separate post.

    1. The $2 charge makes no sense. From this $2 roaming charge and the $1 per MB charge that Amazon have outside of the US, it certainly seems they couldn’t get any reasonable deals from wireless networks/providers.

    2. I think it’s no coincidence that the $2 charge covers the price difference between what US Kindle owners pay at home and what owners of the Kindle International version will pay living abroad. They don’t want a situation where people in Europe use a US address in order to buy books cheaper. Although since many books won’t be available abroad, they’re getting that situation anyway, and my understanding is that they are trying to close that loophole. Now as to why they are more expensive in Europe – is it the international roaming fee? is it something to do with the rights agreements? – dunno.

  3. Don’t forget to take into account the cover. You really don’t want to buy a Kindle without one.

    For the Netherlands it totaled to:
    Kindle 2 + Cover = $308,99
    Shipping & Handling to NL = $26,97
    Deposit for import fees: $65,38
    Total: $401,34 so about 280 euros.

    The Sony Reader Touch currently costs 299 euros here in the Netherlands. The Sony does have touch but no whispernet. Whispernet does have full coverage in the Netherlands btw which is nice.

    $13.99 still is ok compared to what we pay for eBooks currently here.

    1. Unlikely because the modem hardware isn’t suited for the other 3G networks. Maybe someone is clever enough to start selling modem replacement kits for the brave? But even then I don’t know if it would get you unto the AT&T network outside of the US.

    2. Pierre is right on this one. The us kindle 2 doesn’t have the HSDPA card needed for AT&T’s network.

      There was someone who was trying to mod the Kindle 2 and wasn’t able to figure out the software hack.

  4. I just ordered mine in Japan. Here’s what it ran me:

    Kindle 2 Int’l: $279.00
    Shipping & Handling to Japan: $20.98
    Import Fees Deposit $15.00
    Total: $314.98

    I guess Japan is relatively laid-back with its import fees compared to Pierre’s Netherlands numbers. Interesting.

    The Kindle hasn’t shipped yet, but I already have an iPod touch with the Kindle app. It never used to let me buy anything, but now I’ve already bought a number of books and sent them directly to the iPod. I can’t download books to the computer yet b/c I don’t have my Kindle’s serial number, but the account is apparently activated right away. 🙂

    And FWIW, the Kindle purchase page specifically told me that Japan did NOT have blog access. Not a big deal for me but we’ll see when it arrives…

  5. Okay, so first of all, it isn’t surprising that there is no coverage in China considering how much Chinese internet is blocked. All blogs are blocked, and so I am only able to read this page because I’m using a VPN (I’m an American English teacher in China btw). Also, there is a large number of books that are banned in the PRC.
    I was wondering, if I purchase one of these new Kindles in the US and have it shipped here to China, how much of the internet access will work? I’m asking because the coverage map on the website lists a tons of Chinese cities as having 3g coverage, but apparently the device isn’t available at all.
    If you could please give me some sort of answer, I will greatly appreciate it.

  6. If you can get through to Amazon and have an account there with an address registered in a country that is covered (like the US), AFAIK you should be able to download books directly to your computer and load them via USB. Whispernet would be useless admittedly, but think of that as battery savings! :p As an ebook reader it probably should still work…

  7. What nobody talks about is the restricted list of ebooks you can purchase outside of the United States from Amazon.
    In Australia it seems like only about 20% of the US range is available for purchase.
    If I had known this beforehand I probably would not have purchased my Kindle.

  8. Just an update about country categories :
    – Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana : those three territories, also called FWI (French West Indies) in fact belong to “countries that get Kindle International and WhisperNet (the limited version)” category. Just got mine, and I can access Kindle Store and download books. No web, only wikipedia.
    – Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin (french part) : belong to “countries that get Kindle International and WhisperNet (the limited version)” category, as they depend on Guadeloupe.

  9. Hello from India!

    First of all, thank you for this blog. I am seriously considering buying a Kindle, and was so confused trying to decide whether to wait or not, whether it was worth it, whether the Sony Reader was a better option… your clear, feature-by-feature breakdowns clarified things for me.

    I am going to be visiting the US soon, and have a couple of questions:
    – Can I buy the Kindle International while I am there so as to save on shipping and customs costs?

    – Confused about the power cable. Our voltage is 220v, and our plug points are 3-pin round. Do I need an adapter?

    – Can I read off the Kindle in low indoor light, or would I need to also buy a clip-on light?

    – What should I be looking for in a cover?

    Thanks for your help…

    1. yes, you can have it delivered in the US to save on shipping costs.

      yes, you would need an adapter.

      yes, you would need a reading light.

      for cases – i’d recommend the m-edge cases as they are good.

      1. Very interested in a Kindle (though your articles speculating a Kindle 3 soon make me a crazy shopper, lol)

        and I am CANADIAN lol.. I know it’s available here, but does anyone know where we fit in on the wireless situation?

        really hoping we’re as full featured as the US.

        1. John, Kindle whispernet and wikipedia works in canada.
          Books cost $2 more due to wireless data charges.

          Amazon have said they plan to extend free Internet browsing worldwide – perhaps that will arrive in 2010.
          They have also said that international kindle dx will arrive in 2010.

          Let me know if you have other questions.

  10. Good review. However, the Kindle International edition is available to Canada with no extra fees. You may want to update the review to reflect that.

  11. To Greece, this is what I had to pay for customs duties.

    140 euro! I picked it up from the airport myself and was charged 140 euro. My advice to people looking for a kindle in Greece is to get someone else to buy one for you and to wrap the thing up and send it as a gift. Why? Because you will end up paying customs charges of roughly 75% of the original cost, for the reason not that Greek law states this, but that so many people working in petty positions in Greece is thieves.

    1. Moments after I wrote this comment, i realized that the Kindle iPhone app IS now available in Sweden. It wasn’t two weeks ago, and Amazon support couldn’t give any indication of when it would be made available.

      I have no idea if the situation is the same in other countries.

  12. you have mentioned that egypt is excluded comletely, however when i contacted the kindle support they agree that i can use it wirelessly as cairo, egypt is covered by 3G, the issue in that amazon does not ship it to cairo….could u varify,,,,
    thank u
    dr. hamed shaheen

    1. Dr. Shaheen – this is not an official Kindle Blog. There’s really nothing I can verify.
      Kindle Support is a much more reliable source – if they said it’s usable in Cairo it must be.

  13. I am a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan. Borat couldnt care less about the kindle but I am saddened by you report – and confused. The kindle’s web covereage map shows most of Kazakhstan as being covered and somehow my tiny village is included in this coverage. Why then would I not have internet access? Also, I know of another volunteer who just received the Kindle 2 and was able to access wikipedia, is his access limited to just that?

    I dont really have time, nor the patience (this country’s internet access is quite limited) to sift through all the information here. I apologize if this has been answered elsewhere and appreciate any help you can offer.

    1. International Kindle at the moment has just Wikipedia in countries that are covered. Kazakhastan is listed as NOT covered.

      Not sure how your friend can get Wikipedia access – Kazakhastan is supposed to not have it. No international country gets Internet access at the moment – it’s planned for sometime this year.

      1. > No international country gets Internet access at the moment

        I’m not sure about this — While I’m in Japan rather than Kazakhstan, I have full internet access, not limited to Wikipedia, on my K2i. Have had it since the day it arrived a week after it became available. It’s, er, “non lickety-split” but functions perfectly well in a pinch.

        Maybe some countries are rolling out net access without officially announcing it?

        1. That’s probably it. Japan and Mexcio were supposed to get Internet and then Amazon said no international country gets it.
          Sometime in 2010 Internet is supposed to be turned on for all WhisperNet countries.

  14. So if it is not offered in a certain country but you get while in the US and download your books in the US, can you still read your books previously downloaded on the device when abroad? just won’t be able to purchase new books while abroad? Moving to turkey…it shows that turkey has “edge” coverage which is stated it is just slower speed. so that make it seem like it would still work there?

    1. Kindra, if WhisperNet is not offered in a certain country then you can still download via PC. Set your account to US. Turkey does not have WhisperNet – you’d have to download vto your PC and then transfer.

  15. Great review… purchased my Kindle 2 International a week ago and waiting for the delivery… it’s already in the country but the customs clearance takes ages…

    Anyway, there’s one typo in the above review, particularly in the part:
    “Countries that get Kindle International and WhisperNet (the limited version)”
    In the section 10. there’s “Solvakia”, which should be “Slovakia”

    PS 100 point questions: From which country am I coming from? 😉

  16. Am I understanding correctly that the KINDLE comes only in English and is not available in other languages??? I am mostly interested in Danish and German language. Thank you.
    Sincerely, Jytte
    P.S. I have been asked if and when the Kindle might be available in those countries.

    1. Kindle interface etc. are only in english.
      Kindle should in theory be able to support documents in any western language. It definitely supports the languages listed below.
      Kindle Store allows users to sell books in German, French, Spanish, Portuguese in addition to English.

      In Germany and Denmark you can order the Kindle and definitely read German books on them from Kindle store or those in a Kindle supported format without DRM. However the menus and controls will be in English. Not sure about Denmark.

  17. Good Day,
    first of all thank you very much for your effort in this blog it helps me in my research in ebooks.
    I am building the first Arabic ebook store in the middle east in terms of format (PDF, ePub, etc…) and DRM.
    the store will support ebook devices, mobile phones and regular computers.
    I already started the communication with publishers and authors and started to build the library.
    the problem is that I need to have a complete solution something similar to KOBO’s, but I couldn’t find one!
    I contacted most of the solution providers and they were not interested in this area of the world.
    I believe this would be a very successful project since a huge advertising campaign will take place when launching the store and the support the store will have from local organizations.

    Any thoughts on how to start this project??

    your help will be appreciated.


    1. Hashem, you might want to take a look at Wikipedia’s section on Rebranded eReaders. There are companies like Hanlin, Netronix, and Hanvon that let other companies sell rebranded versions of their eReaders.

      A good way to start would be to find out which of these can support Arabic ebooks and then get a design firm to design an eReader built on these. You’d also need to get a good Linux shop to help craft a good operating system and ebook reader.

  18. I live in Hongkong and I’m very enthusiastic about buying Kindle 2. I have many books in my laptop that are in pdf format so the question is whether i can upload those pdf formatted books in kindle 2 free of charge or Am i liable to pay extra charge for transferring my personal documents to Kindle 2 because it’s very expensive to buy books rather we can download books from some other sites and read them.

    1. Kindle supports PDFs but not password protected or DRM protected PDFs. This blog doesn’t really support piracy of books so can’t really talk to your second question.

  19. As a (potential) german customer:
    When I buy Kindle books via 1Click-buy, will I receive an invoice suitable for german tax authorities (including VAT)? If yes: will it be electronic or paper? Which currency will be used?

    1. Markus – quite frankly have no idea if the invoice will be suitable for tax authorities. I would think so since Amazon has been doing business in Europe and Germany for quite a while.
      Kindle book sales result in electronic invoices and in Germany the currency used will be the dollar.

      I’d recommend calling up customer service – Email and Phone Number are listed in the second section of the Kindle 3 Insights post.

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