Kindle UK Review, FAQ

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

  1. The experimental web browser is not available for Kindle UK which means NO Free Internet.
  2. Kindle Blog subscriptions are missing.
  3. 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.  
  4. 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

  1. A lot of paid and free Kindle books. Amazon says that Kindle in UK will have access to 280 thousand books.
  2. Free Wireless Downloads of books in just 60 seconds. Also, a store that is always open and accessible straight from your Kindle.
  3. Great screen for reading.
  4. 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).
  5. 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 UK Wireless Coverage
    Kindle UK Wireless Coverage

       

  6. Kindle 2’s Read To Me feature (when publishers haven’t turned it off).
  7. 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. yourkindleemail@free.kindle.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.

12 Responses

  1. Hi, thanks for the review and information you provided!
    I’m currently really interested in purchasing one, but one major plus would be to use the free built-in wikipedia access.
    As you’ve stated, “Blogs and the experimental web browser are currently not available for your country”, however nothing related to the built-in free access to wikipedia is mentioned.

    • Unfortunately Wikipedia access is almost certainly not included. The issue seems to be bandwidth and wikipedia access would incur costs just like Internet usage.

      The kindle us & wireless page mentions wikipedia and the browser – however, check your country to see whether browser usage is included. If it’s not then wikipedia usage will probably not be included either.

  2. Great FAQ. Just to add some forward looking statements (thus: really not something you should 100% count on if you’re deciding to buy a K2). According to this Mirror post, the DX (like you said) is indeed something they hope to release somewhere in 2010.

    Amazon apparently also said: “We are working on making blogs available internationally. Non-U.S. customers in some countries, such as Japan, can use the experimental web browsing feature. Our goal is to implement the experimental web browser in every country.” But that indeed probably depends on the deals they are able to make on a country by country level.

    But hey, compare it to the roaming charges on your iPhone 3G(S) / with T-Mobile. They charge you GBP 1,50 per MB *or* GBP 7,50 per MB depending on the country you are in.

  3. I just wanted to add some more info to the FAQ:

    I noticed today that the Kindle 2 international that I’ve ordered (and of course hasn’t been delivered yet) already shows up in my Amazon account. So I could start queuing books today already if I wanted to. :-)

    Also, Kindle books now display information about whether they are available in your location (since not all of them are available globally). See this screenshot for example of Witch and Wizard, a Kindle book not available in Europe.

    On my “Manage Your Kindle” page there is a section called “Your Country” which says “If you’re moving, you can change the country associated with your Kindle account.”
    I can’t remember that being there. I guess that determines whether you pay the $2 extra charge (so if I’m in the Netherlands and have that set to US I probably end up paying the $2 for every download, while setting it Netherlands means I won’t be able to cheat Amazon into thinking I’m in the US and should be able to buy all the books available there).

  4. Thanks for the information Pierre.

  5. I just received my Kindle her ein the UK yesterday.
    Awesome. Downloded the Time in under 6 seconds on the train to work. Shame the Web Browsing doesn’t work (yet).
    Just received an email from Amazon saying that due to such hugh numbers of orders they are giving me $20 back form the purchase price – which is excellent customer service I think.
    Total Price therefore = $259 (or £156)

  6. I have just gotten a Kindle 2 and just looking at my bank charges I am getting a hefty £1.25 added by my bank (Natwest!) for the currency conversion this makes buying small ticket items like a newspaper cost way too much.

    Any ideas on how to avoid these bank charges?

    Graham

    • Wow. That’s a huge charge.

      Could you buy Kindle Gift Cards from Amazon.com through PayPal or another, non credit-card means?

      Then apply that to your account and buy Kindle Books.

      Will check around more tomorrow and update this comment.

  7. We’ve just got ours (imported from the US store, of course). I have to say, although I am disappointed with the lack of browsing/blogs (that would be a killer feature for me), it still is surprisingly lovely: the screensaver when you switch it off, and the weight and styling. Having said that, the refresh rate could do with being quicker… but that’s e-ink for you.

    What we need now, of course, is for the ‘free books’ to actually be free over here in the UK, like they are in the US, rather than having to pay some dodgy VAT fee (or whatever it is).

  8. I bought my (wife’s) UK Kindle 2 International in Feb 2010. When it arrived as you said there was no web browsing available but Wikipedia access was. Just out of interest I looked again last week (June 25 ish) and now full web browsing is available.

    I have also ordered free books without the $2 charge. To do this you must order from your PC on The Amazon.com website. They are still delivered straight to the Kindle. Additionally she bought a book whilst on holiday in Spain in May and we did not notice any surcharge.

    On an additional note, my wife loves her kindle and would not swap it for anything, and that includes the iPad. If what you want to do is read, nothing comes close. She uses it in the garden, on the beach, on the train, in bed, and gets about 2 weeks from a single charge. A backlit screen just wouldn’t cope with all of that. As far as she’s concerned it’s her book(s), not a gadget.

  9. I bought a Kindle in the USA, but am unable to get The Key to Theosophy, by H.P.Blavatsky, which I am told is available in the UK.. Any suggestions? My Kindle is under Narada Kindle. Thanks for any help. John

    • John, this is not an official Amazon site. Could you please try the official Kindle forum or Kindle customer support instead.

      You could go Amazon.com and have them call you OR use this information –

      Click the Call Me button or you can reach a dedicated Kindle representative at 1-866-321-8851.
      International customers can reach us at 1-206-266-0927. Charges may apply.

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