Kindle Canada is available

Amazon.com greeted me with a big sign saying – Kindle Now Ships To Canada.

You have to buy Kindle Canada from Amazon.com and not Amazon.ca.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Kindle Canada – What does Canada get

 Canada gets all of the following -

  1. Free access to the Kindle Store via 3G wireless.  
  2. 300,000 English language books.
  3. $11.99 prices.
  4. 100,000 books under $5.99.  
  5. Newspapers and Magazines are also available.  

What does Canada not get?

  1. No free Internet. 
  2. $2 extra for books due to wireless delivery charge.  
  3. No wireless delivery of personal documents.
  4. No Kindle Blogs.
  5. Prices in Canadian Dollars. Everything will be charged in US dollars.

How much will Kindle 2 cost by the time it gets to you?

  •  Base Cost – $259.
  • Shipping and Handling – $21. That’s for Priority International Courier that gets to you in 2 days.
  • Import Fees Deposit: $31.

For a total cost of $311.  

Kindle Canada Review

Please read my Kindle Canada review which covers using the Kindle in Canada. It does not include whispernet as that wasn’t available until today (Nov 17th).

My overall experience has been great – Would recommend the Kindle strongly for anyone who loves to read.

Do note that the great experience was  -

  • Without the wireless store and with no 60 second book downloads.
  • With $9.99 books and not $11.99 books.

Those factors almost balance out.

Will Kindle Canada lead to a flurry of sales?  

It’ll be interesting to see whether Kindle Canada will lead to tons of sales of the Kindle in Canada or whether it was the fact that Kindle wasn’t available in Canada that people were upset about (rather than not being able to get their hands on one).

Will Kindle Canada Sales be good?

One of the Factors could be the wireless coverage for the Kindle in Canada -

Kindle Canada Whispernet Coverage

Whispernet Coverage in Canada

While it hardly blankets Canada it covers the major cities well.

The other factor is Sony

Sony have been selling their Sony Readers for a long time (the Touch Edition and Pocket Edition have been available for months) and Canadians can actually play with them at Sony stores and at Best Buy (while the Kindle has to be bought based on pictures and reviews).

However, look at the prices and Sony Reader suddenly isn’t very compelling -

  • Kindle 2 is $311 after everything.  
  • Sony Pocket Edition is $259 before taxes.
  • Sony Touch Edition is $399 before taxes.  

The Kindle 2 is actually slightly better than the Sony Touch Edition so paying $400 plus taxes for the Sony Touch Edition doesn’t make sense.

Kindle Canada should certainly outsell the Sony Readers this holiday season.

What other competitors does Kindle Canada have?

Well, let’s see -

  • The Apple Slate won’t be out until 2010. 
  • Barnes and Noble’s nook hasn’t been released outside the US and they are having problems meeting demand in the US – so Canada doesn’t get nook this year. 
  • The other eReaders companies don’t have any brand recognition. 

There are no other competitors – it’s Kindle Canada Vs Sony Reader and Kindle’s price advantage (and better overall features – in my opinion) make it the clear #1 choice.

Amazon, by making the Kindle available in Canada, have wrapped up the Canada eReader Holiday Season.

Kindle Canada Review – the Canuck Experience

The Kindle isn’t available in Canada yet (October 15th, 2009). However, this review of the Kindle Canada experience should come in handy when Amazon gets the Kindle to Canada (Amazon have a notice saying it will be soon).

You could also look at this in-depth Kindle 2 Review for a ton of details and kindle videos.

Kindle Canada Review – Top Pros

The Kindle is the best current eReader. Here are the top 11 features (with notes on how they translate to Canada) -

  1. Wireless Access to the Kindle Store – Browse the Store wirelessly and get book downloads in 60 seconds. This is a great, super convenient feature and Amazon will almost certainly have this when Kindle Canada debuts.
  2. Range of Books – The Kindle Store has a wide variety of books available. Most European countries have been getting 290K out of the 350K+ available in the Kindle Store. Canada ought to get at least as many. 
  3. The eInk Screen - It’s easy to read, readable in bright sunshine, uses very little battery life and puts next to no strain on your eyes.
  4. Free Internet Access – At this point it’s unlikely that Canada will get Free Kindle Internet – no country outside of the US has.
  5. Great usability – The Kindle is dead simple to use. You don’t have to be tech savvy.
  6. Focus on Reading – The Kindle lets you read without distractions. The long battery life and eye-friendly screen ensure long stretches of carefree reading.
  7. Great value for money. The Kindle itself is $279 for the international Kindle. With taxes and shipping it’ll probably be in the $315 to $350 range so Kindle Canada isn’t as much of a bargain.
  8. Great Book Prices – Kindle Edition books are just $9.99. In Canada Kindle books will be either $12 or $14 depending on what Amazon have to pay wireless companies and what federal and provincial taxes are.  Again, the price isn’t as attractive.
  9. Lots of add-on features – There’s Text To Speech (unless Publishers have turned it off for a book) that lets you listen to your books while cooking, driving, etc. An in-built dictionary and a decent search function also add to the reading experience.
  10. Kindle for iPhone – There’s a great free app that lets you read your Kindle Books on the go.
  11. WhisperSync – Lets you synchronize your place in a book across your Kindles, iPhones, etc.

So 8 of the Top 11 features of the Kindle translate well to Canada. Perhaps Amazon can keep Kindle prices low and add to that.

Kindle Canada Review – The Cons

The Kindle also has some disadvantages -

  1. It doesn’t have a touchscreen. However, the touchscreen significantly reduces screen readability so it isn’t really a disadvantage. Check my Kindle 2 Vs Sony Reader Touch comparison video to see for yourself.  
  2. It’s rather plain looking and only available in one color.  
  3. It doesn’t support PDF - or to be more precise you have to convert documents yourself or have Amazon convert them for you. 
  4. It doesn’t support ePub.
  5. The Books have DRM – This is a non issue unless you feel very strongly about DRM. 
  6. You cannot share books or resell them. The lower price of Kindle Edition books compensates for this – although prices aren’t always lower than physical book prices.
  7. There is no color screen – this is because eInk technology is still evolving.
  8. Dropping the Kindle usually breaks the screen (except for very small drops) and it costs $180 or more to get a replacement kindle.

The disadvantages are weighed out by the advantages. However, please make sure that a Kindle shortcoming isn’t a deal breaker for you.

 Kindle Canada Review – Comparing with Sony Reader, Short Covers, etc.

The Kindle Vs Sony review post mentioned above is good if you want an in-depth comparison. Note that even with the lack of Free Internet and higher ebook prices the Kindle is better.

After owning both and reading books on both, there’s little doubt the Kindle is the better eReader. My Kindle doesn’t get WhisperNet since it’s not available in Canada yet and I still prefer the Kindle. Sony don’t use touch effectively and the Touch layer reduces readability.

Short Covers don’t have a dedicated eReader – they have apps for the iPhone and for Blackberry. If you have an iPhone try out both Kindle for iPhone and ShortCovers – they’re both free. ShortCovers limits itself by downloading books chapter by chapter which bothers me more than it should.

Whenever the Kindle is available in Canada (or if you can get one up from the US) it’ll be the best eReader available. 

Kindle Canada – the Canuck Experience

It’s been 6 months of using the Kindle in Vancouver and its been a very good experience -

  1. The Kindle ends up leading to a lot more reading.  
  2. That includes spending more on books than you would earlier.  
  3. Lots of people strike up conversations when they see you with a Kindle.
  4. It’s so light and the battery life is so good (remember to keep wireless turned off) you can take it with you everywhere.
  5. You can read one handed (with either hand) and it’s perfect for reading in bed.
  6. Do note that there’s no back-light so you can’t read in the dark unless you get a reading light. 
  7. Some books aren’t available for the Kindle.
  8. Kindle isn’t water resistant – so no beaches, tubs or reading in the rain unless you get a Trendy Design waterproof Kindle Cover.
  9. Remember to get a warranty so you don’t have to worry about dropping it all the time.

It’s got me reading a lot more and it’s become my 2nd favorite gadget after my phone. I would gladly give it a contract as long as Luongo’s. 

If you love to read you need to get a Kindle when it comes out in Canada. It’s the best eReader and Amazon have managed to make a device optimized for reading.

Kindle Interest by Country – Germany, UK, Canada lead the way

These are the countries that are the most interested in the Kindle based on Alexa information, Google Trends, etc. (see section at the end for methodology) -

  1. Germany – Kindle Germany is getting the most buzz among the Kindle sites although it’s only 5th based on Google Trends. German is the 2nd most popular language for Kindle related searches.
  2. United Kingdom - Kindle interest is huge in the UK. A very close 2nd. 
  3. India - Interest in Kindle is huge despite the concerns over price (more people search for ‘kindle price’ in India than any other non-US country).
  4. Canada – There’s no Kindle for Canada and still Canadians search for it a lot. Hopefully the ‘Amazon bidding Telcos against each other’ rumors are true and we get Kindle in Canada soon. 
  5. China – Another country that has huge interest in the Kindle despite the Kindle not being available. Chinese is the 3rd most popular language of searches.  
  6. Russia – Top 5 for some Kindle Sites. There are a decent number of Russian ebook sites so Russia might be in the Top 3 in terms of Kindle interest.
  7. Austria – Surprisingly high interest in the Kindle.
  8. Australia – In the top 10 for nearly every single Kindle site and search term.
  9. South Africa – Another country with a surprisingly high amount of interest.
  10. Italy – Was a big surprise to see more Kindle interest in Italy than in France.
  11. Spain – Another surprise because there are hardly any Spanish ebooks in the Kindle Store.
  12. France – A big surprise to see such little interest in the Kindle in France.
  13. Ireland – In the top 5 for some sites.
  14. Japan - The Japanese have surprisingly low interest in the Kindle (Amazon removed the Free Internet in Japan and they don’t seem to care). Could it be the popularity of writing and reading books on cellphones?
  15. Netherlands – Strong interest.
  16. Hong Kong – Very high interest for some searches and missing completely elsewhere.
  17. Denmark – A surprising large number of sources had Denmark in the Top 10.
  18. Philippines – Strong Interest across most sites and sources.

In addition to Canada and China there were a few other countries that were very interested in the Kindle despite it not being available -

  1. New Zealand – though they seem more concerned that Australia got the Kindle than the fact that they didn’t.
  2. Indonesia – Definitely a Top 20 country in terms of Kindle Interest. 
  3. Singapore – Another Top 20 country. Very high for some Google search terms.
  4. Pakistan 
  5. Turkey – Perhaps the only European country left out.  
  6. Belarus
  7. Saudi Arabia

Surprisingly Argentina didn’t show up anywhere.

Languages that had the most Kindle related searches

Languages according to Google (a rough ranking) -

  1. English 
  2. German 
  3. Chinese 
  4. Spanish
  5. Japanese 
  6. Italian 
  7. Dutch 
  8. Portuguese
  9. French.

These results should be of interest to Book Publishers in various countries. If Google’s relative scale is to be believed there is very healthy interest in ebooks in various languages. Plus it’s a market Amazon is not in yet.

How the Kindle Interest by Country List was Created

There were a number of factors mixed in -

  1. Google Trends for various search terms.  
  2. Alexa information for various Kindle Sites.  
  3. Google Analytics (only for one site). 
  4. Google News – Kindle News coverage was highest in UK, Canada and Australia.

Google Trends was weighed the most, followed by the various Kindle Sites. While there were some changes across the various measures the Top 20 did not change that much. In fact some countries were consistently in the Top 5. The list probably is 80% correct in terms of Top 20 countries. 

Kindle News Coverage – UK, Canada, Australia all complaining.

Interestingly it’s the $11.99 and $13.99 prices that have gotten the Kindle the most publicity. In both Australia and UK the press is up in arms over the ’40% mark-up’. It’s rather amusing because -

  1. Price in Australia is $11.99 (a 20% mark-up) and not $13.99. 
  2. UK has high VAT on eBooks, which combined with the AT&T data charge explains the higher prices (not saying prices are reasonable, just that there’s a reason for the higher prices). 
  3. The price of physical books (in most cases) and ebooks (in most cases) in UK and Australia is higher than the supposedly outrageous Kindle prices.

Canada and New Zealand are rather upset they don’t get the Kindle. There’s a lot of bitterness despite rumors in both countries that Kindle is on the way (Vodafone for Kindle New Zealand and Amazon negotiations with Telcos for Canada).

Most other countries have a few scattered articles.

There’s another wave of news coverage starting now that Amazon has introduced country based restrictions. Now people from every single country (including the US) will run into books in the Kindle Store they cannot download.

Why Muslim Countries and China didn’t get the Kindle

There’s a thread at MobileRead speculating on why Kindle was left out of some countries -

  1. A lot of the Middle East.
  2. China and Pakistan although India got Kindle Books.

One commenter might have hit the nail on the head when he brought up the strong censorship issues in these countries. 1984 is nothing compared to the headache and trouble Amazon would get from a country like China or Iran.

For example, Amazon sells Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses (not in ebook format). That might lead to certain countries banning Kindles, etc. The problem is worse because if Amazon were to restrict sales of certain books in certain countries they would take a PR hit in the US. It’s a lose-lose situation.

There are also a few other reasons that may be the main ones -

  1. A lot of these countries have English as a secondary language i.e. they just don’t have that big of an English market.  
  2. The whole reading right to left issue is a problem. Which might be why Israel didn’t get it either.
  3. China already has a lot of Kindle knock-offs and the Chinese Government tends to favor Chinese companies (they put in a law today restricting sale of virtual goods to only Chinese companies).  

A combination of those reasons is probably why a lot of Muslim countries and China didn’t get the Kindle.

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