July 28th, 2010 update: We now have the Kindle 3 available in the UK.
Now that Kindle UK has arrived, it’s time to review exactly what you’re getting when you buy a Kindle 2 international version for use in the United Kingdom.
Kindle UK Review
My Kindle 2 Review had given the Kindle 2 a solid 8.5 stars out of 10. What you get with Kindle UK is slightly different i.e.
You DO NOT get these Kindle 2 features in the United Kingdom
- The experimental web browser is not available for Kindle UK which means NO Free Internet.
- Kindle Blog subscriptions are missing.
- You do NOT get the benefit of relatively cheap personal document transfers via WhisperNet. The Kindle UK WhisperNet levies a hefty $1 per MB charge for documents.
- The power adapter will work with UK voltage – However, you will need a physical adapter to use the Kindle plug with UK power outlets (this is what Amazon seems to hint at). Use USB charging as a workaround.
You DO get these Kindle 2 Features in UK
- A lot of paid and free Kindle books. Amazon says that Kindle in UK will have access to 280 thousand books.
- Free Wireless Downloads of books in just 60 seconds. Also, a store that is always open and accessible straight from your Kindle.
- Great screen for reading.
- All the Kindle 2 features and benefits that have made Kindle 2 a hit in the US (click the kindle 2 review link above for more).
- Good wireless coverage throughout the United Kingdom. Kindle WhisperNet is 3G in most of England and Ireland and large parts of Scotland (including Glasgow). Rest of the United Kingdom, including parts of Wales and Scotland, have EDGE/GPRS coverage. WhisperNet Coverage Map (click to go to Amazon and access the dynamic map for yourself) -
- Kindle 2′s Read To Me feature (when publishers haven’t turned it off).
- Low priced books – They are not the $9.99 that the US gets. However, VAT is included and Amazon say prices for Kindle Books in the UK will be $11.99 to $13.99 (for bestsellers and new releases).
The lack of Free Internet and high charges for transferring personal documents via Kindle’s UK WhisperNet means in the UK the Kindle device and service get an 8 stars out of 10 rating (less than the 8.5 it gets in the US).
Kindle 2 is still the best eReader available in the UK (in my opinion).
Kindle UK FAQ
What will be the effective price for Kindle 2 in the United Kingdom?
Amazon currently are showing Kindle 2 UK Price of $345 or 217 pounds. It’s $279 for the Kindle 2, $21 for the postage, and a $45 deposit used for import duties. If you’d like a Kindle 2 cover add on $30 or so (a cover is useful, especially if you intend to travel and commute a lot).
Why will Kindle UK be $20 more than the US version? Why isn’t it available from Amazon UK?
Amazon have said that they are working on making a UK Kindle solution available i.e. something that goes through Amazon UK.
The higher price is due to the fact that Kindle 2 UK has a HSDPA modem that works in and out of the US. It works worldwide and the wireless modem probably costs more. It is also conceivable that AT&T charges more than Sprint as AT&T has global (for the most part) wireless coverage.
How long will the Kindle take to arrive in the UK? What is the Kindle UK release date?
The Kindle will ship via Priority International Courier and a Kindle UK preorder now will reach you between October 21st and 23rd. The official kindle uk release date is October 19th, 2009.
Why is there no Free Internet? Why are document transfers $1 per MB?
Amazon have been trying to negotiate with UK carriers for over a year. It seems AT&T were the network Amazon were able to work out a deal with and that AT&T got quite a healthy rate for the data transfers. This would explain why there is no Free Internet (too expensive) and why the per MB data transfer fee is so high.
Why do I have to pay for everything in US dollars?
Perhaps Amazon US wants to simplify things by using the US dollar everywhere instead of using 174 different currencies. Perhaps Publishers want to use just the US dollar. At current exchange rates that’s probably a good thing.
Watch out for credit card and bank charges for purchases in US dollars.
Will Kindle 2 UK support PDF files?
Amazon supports PDF conversions. Note that if you choose to have converted files sent to your Kindle the $1 per MB charges apply. Check out my Kindle PDF conversion post for details.
To avoid the transfer fees you can convert yourself or use the Free Kindle address i.e. email@example.com to get converted files in your email. Then transfer the converted file to your Kindle 2 via the Kindle USB cable.
Should I get a 2 year Kindle Extended Warranty? Why is it not available for the UK?
Perhaps. This depends from person to person. A broken screen Kindle 2 usually costs $180. Try to get a UK insurance service to cover your Kindle 2.
Which Kindle 2 Cover should I get?
The M-Edge covers get a lot of love. Pick one of the Kindle 2 M-Edge covers rated 4 star or above.
Why does Amazon call Kindle 2 the Kindle US & International Wireless?
Calling it Kindle 2 or Kindle Global or something short and catchy would have been too simple. On the plus side the US version is now called Kindle US Wireless which is almost as bad.
Will Kindle UK get WhisperNet outside of the UK?
Yes, it will. Check out the Kindle 2 International Wireless Coverage Map.
Do note that any books you buy while outside of the UK (and even books you re-download from your archive wirelessly) will incur a $2 download charge.
When will Kindle DX get to the UK?
There are rumors that Kindle DX International Version will be released worldwide in 2010.
Should I get a Sony Reader or the Kindle 2?
Check out my Kindle Vs Sony Reader post. The Free Internet benefit does not apply.
Do Note that Sony is fuzzy on the UK release date of the Sony Digital Edition so Kindle UK might be the only eReader with wireless downloads for quite a while. Also, Sony has fewer books available in its UK ebook store.
Why does UK get only 280K books while the US has 350K plus?
Book rights are negotiated on a per country (territory) basis. This means that Amazon had to renegotiate all the books they had already gotten for Kindle USA.
That’s the end of the Kindle UK FAQ.
If you have another Kindle UK question or thought, please do leave a comment.
A lot of my time in London was spent riding the Tube and the Kindle would have been perfect. My personal feeling is that the Kindle UK is going to be a big hit this Holiday Season.