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Added cost for International eBook purchases ....


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Initial post: Sep 12, 2010 4:05:48 PM PDT
PilotReader says:
I live in TRINIDAD ... does anyone know if there are any additional charges to purchase an eBook from the Caribbean for the Kindle ...

I have another eReader and I cannot purchase eBooks when I am out of the USA ... I am on the verge of returning this eReader if the Kindle (3G/WiFi) would allow me to purchase eBooks while I am in the Caribbean.

Posted on Sep 13, 2010 5:23:32 PM PDT
Nigel Bree says:
Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any way to tell as a customer until you actually have a Kindle; I recently purchased a WiFi-only Kindle and it wasn't until it was actually registered to my account in my region (New Zealand) that it became apparent that there was a hidden surcharge of about US$2 that would be applied to most Kindle purchases - most notable for "free" or low-cost titles - and that worse, the vast majority of e-books I was been interested in buying were blocked in my region (and also, there is no RSS feed service whatsoever; blog subscriptions for the Kindle appear to be for U.S. customers only).

However, I suspect that this really only affects those of use who actually live outside the United States. To the extent it's possible for me tell as a customer, the key determination Amazon make is based on billing address rather than geo-IP when it comes to being able to purchase content and what you pay, and this affects 3G and WiFi equally. Quite what the mechanics behind the surcharge are is hard to determine, and so I can't tell you whether it's different for different regions, but if you have the ability to use a U.S. billing address then that's probably enough to avoid having to pay it.

The only major exception to this which may affect a customer with a US billing address is that delivery of some things such as magazines may be curtailed over 3G when outside the US but are generally available over WiFi (according to the Kindle manual, anyway). It seems to be that for U.S. customers Amazon won't charge you extra as with non-U.S. customers, you just won't necessarily get 3G delivery.

Reading between the lines this aspect of magazines is probably related to image content; these make magazine issues more data-intensive than most books. Several of the very small list of magazines Amazon will let me purchase in my region have explicit notices that for non-US customers they have no images.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2010 1:12:45 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 15, 2010 1:17:03 AM PDT
Like Nigel said, if you have a US billing address there should be no problem. I bought and used my Kindle in the US, but I am in South Korea at the moment. I have no problem using the 3G network (which is free, no connection fee) nor am I charged a surcharge for the books. There seems to be no difference as when I was using it in the States. However, I can't say that the same will be true if you have a non-US billing address. (The Kindle isn't sold in Korea, so I can't make any comparisons.)

Posted on Sep 17, 2010 5:26:39 AM PDT
US billing address isirrelevant,
setting your region as US in the "manage ur account" will only let u sail only for a while,
few purchases past and Amazon will send a notification to u and if u still ignoring that,
they won't let u purchase anything unless u log in and change
ur account setting

and 2 dollars charge is applied to all international users i think,
(that's what they r charging me in thailand)

btw i have been using a US billing address

what bothers me most though is the fact that Amazon
merely blocks a lot of freebies stuff from us instead of just letting
us d/l with the two-dollar charge

CALLING ON ALL INTERNATIONAL USERS!!!! LET'S MAKE AN EFFORT
TO LET THEM KNOW THAT WE MATTER TOO!ˇ!ˇ

Posted on Sep 17, 2010 5:49:56 AM PDT
I live in the Bahamas but have a US billing address. I can download everything but there is a $2 charge if I download straight to Kindle. If I download via computer then put on Kindle , no chaarge.

Posted on Sep 17, 2010 1:37:15 PM PDT
B. W. Knox says:
I also live in New Zealand and get the $2 for delivery by whispernet even though I have a wifi only kindle. I can understand a charge for 3G download but wifi or onto computer should not add any cost anywhere in the world. Unlike Michelle I get it when buying from the computer as well.

How can you petition Amazon about this?

Posted on Sep 17, 2010 9:16:25 PM PDT
Nigel Bree says:
Thanks for the extra information, folks; ultimately, what annoys me most about this is the lack of disclosure rather than the charge itself - the fact that Amazon have chosen to conceal the existence of this surcharge for non-U.S. customers when it certainly does have an impact on the decision to purchase a Kindle is to me rather more telling than the surcharge itself.

@Michelle, it's interesting that you say you can bypass the charge by downloading to computer; I don't quite see how that would work, as for me the extra USD$2 is a completely buried component of the purchase price. Perhaps this is yet another aspect of Amazon's site that is being presented differently to customers who have non-U.S. billing addresses, as for me adjusting the delivery method via the drop-down to "Transfer via Computer" does not impact the price.

@booksaddict, while I find the unavailability of most Kindle books in my region incredibly frustrating too - virtually all the books I actually want to buy are US-only at this point - this is not strictly Amazon's problem but rather lies in the publisher/agent/author contract sphere. Author Charles Stross writes about the importance of territorial division of rights at http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/03/cmap-4-territories-translation.html and while for new books this isn't too bad, sorting the contract and territorial-rights issues out for back-catalogue items isn't something Amazon can really control. It would be nice if Amazon gave us a publisher-feedback button for this the same way they do for books that aren't on Kindle at all, but that's about all they really could do.

@B.W. Knox, I presume the first point of call is kindle-feedback@amazon.com but I doubt that it would have much benefit. The main thing to distinguish is between the lack of disclosure of the presence of the surcharge - something that our consumer-protection agency would haul any NZ business over the coals for - versus the surcharge itself and it's somewhat excessive size. I suspect here the main problem is that Amazon have painted themselves into a corner by building their store around the 3G device and the notion of "free delivery"; removing this surcharge for we Wi-Fi-only Kindle owners would in effect mean they'd need to clearly unbundle the delivery fees, and it's hard to see that happening when they have put so much effort into the "Free delivery by Whispernet" marketing (despite it being false). I do suspect this is what underpins their decision to conceal the extra fees in the first place, even though such concealment is an inappropriate way to treat customers.

Posted on Sep 17, 2010 9:55:14 PM PDT
I am from New Zealand too. I complained to Amazon support about the $2 extra on every ebook. They replied with the usual different regions get different prices and taxes etc. They were dodging the fact that the surcharge is exactly $2 for every ebook. Anyways, like with all things I will simply let them know what I think about the policy of charging international customers extra with my wallet, or in their case, lack there of. Just because you own a Kindle does not mean you can only shop at Amazon. You just have to be careful with the DRM or you will not be able to read your purchased book on the Kindle. The interwebs is full of other places to get good quality ebooks for reasonable prices.

Posted on Sep 22, 2010 1:58:51 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 22, 2010 2:35:14 AM PDT
Mae O. says:
I'm from Thailand. Wifi-only-model Kindle will be in my hand in few days. I'm really really frustrated about the surcharge. Why on earth do I have to pay for the cost of 3G while my kindle's got only wifi? For some paperback novels, I can get them from Kinokuniya in cheaper price and much cheaper when membership privilege applies.

$2 of Whispernet thing should be apply only for those who need convenience. Not for those who just live outside U.S.

SUCH A DISCRIMINATION POLICY.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 22, 2010 3:31:05 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 25, 2010 2:40:41 AM PDT
Ditto to that Mae o., it pains me everytime I see new and recommended books list from Kino, but after factoring in the fact that I won't have to deal with the physical books that need physical shelves, I'm still happy with my Kindle (trust me, when ur going rate is a book every day at the least Kindle is a god-send)

The discriminating policy that bothers me more however is the fact that Amazon doesn't push the publishers to allow us foreigners the access to the many "free" books -- I would have been happy to pay two dollars for them but NOOOO, they insist we pay full price!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 22, 2010 6:33:00 AM PDT
Ainda Lyn says:
I agree, I'm happy to pay more as long as I can buy the books I want to buy... frustrating to see it is available on Kindle... but not here (Australia that is)
Kindle prices are down, students are jumping on it too... jump with them Amazon, get those books out of US too!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 22, 2010 6:35:33 AM PDT
Ainda Lyn says:
I agree, I'm happy to pay more as long as I can buy the books I want to buy... frustrating to see it is available on Kindle... but not here (Australia that is)
Kindle prices are down, students are jumping on it too... jump with them Amazon, get those books out of US too!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 22, 2010 9:25:08 PM PDT
I live in Colombia so I´m in the Caribe too and when I started out last Christmas (2009) I always ordered through my pc to save the 2 dollars charge for sending, but for AGES (months ) now It has been free.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 24, 2010 8:04:28 AM PDT
Teacher 23 says:
You are absolutely right! I was in Mexico for a long while but live in the US. I did just as you stated .... downloaded from a computer without any problem. One day I decided to download straight to my Kindle and received a message about surcharges for international billing. It has nothing to do with having a US address in my case. Hope this helps a few international Kindle users to enjoy your ereader as much as I do mine no matter where in the world I am! I have the Kindle 2 and love it.

Posted on Sep 26, 2010 5:13:12 PM PDT
Toadguts says:
With the price of paperbacks in Auckland nudging $40, I'm not going to quibble over a couple of bucks. I agree with most of the above posts that the availability issue's a concern, but that's in the hands of the publishers, not Amazon, except through the pressure Amazon puts on the publishers on our behalf.

Posted on Sep 26, 2010 5:58:05 PM PDT
BeeJay says:
I am in Australia and also disgusted with the USD 2.00 charge for a WiFi kindle or for download via computer - it is indefensible on a cost basis and I see it as we international customers subsidising the US. I sent an email to kindlefeedback and received the standard reply about different publishers in different regions. I responded to that and pointed out that Amazon was still charging USD 2.00 on independent publishers. I know examples from these forums of independent authours who set their book price at say $0.99 but we get charged $2.99.

Amazon said they would refer my mail to the Kindle team (despite it being addressed to Kindle in the first place) but 1 week later I have not heard from them.
I love their product but they need to change the business model if they want to keep us as customers. Like others, I am buying my books elsewhere - smashwords is good.

Posted on Sep 26, 2010 9:35:27 PM PDT
I only use my computer when buying from Amazon when I am out of the country (and then I download to my Kindle). I do have a US Billing Address and I switch my 'country of residence' on my management page between the UK and the US depending on what it is I would like to buy. No problems with that at this point. I have to say that Kinokuniya is probably my favorite book store but I am only able to visit Kinokuniya every couple of years and then I am limited by my 'carry-on' luggage so the Kindle is a life saver when it comes to being able to buy what I want to read when I want to read it. I suspect that a US Billing address is essential to hassle free purchases.

Posted on Sep 26, 2010 10:18:36 PM PDT
Nigel Bree says:
@Toadguts, while that's a valid perspective, bear in mind that price point is for a certain class of new product in the second stage of the reverse auction process used by publishers; the first paperback edition is being priced barely under the hardback to extract more money from early purchasers with that reducing to the standard price after a couple of months - even though NZ like the UK no longer has "trade" versus "mass-market" paperbacks as such, an equivalent price step exists. Most fiction in NZ in the second round of paperback sales - i.e., the traditional "mass-market" format even if the printing doesn't shift to the classic C format but stays in the "trade" form factor - has a price around NZD$26 at full retail which of course includes GST.

The more problematic aspect of this is that although Amazon present this USD$2 surcharge to us as part of the price - it's not marked as a surcharge and is unavoidable for anyone with a non-US billing address - one aspect of their lack of transparency over it is that we cannot be confident about how this is being accounted for further back in the supply chain.

What we have to consider here in the agency model, which author Charles Stross illuminates here during the Amazon/MacMillan stoush earlier this year (later he follows up with a fascinating series of articles on how the publishing industry really works, which I'd also recommend):
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/01/amazon-macmillan-an-outsiders.html

Building on what @BeeJay notes that it's almost certain that this surcharge will NOT be included in the purchase price reported to the publishers and thus on which author royalties are calculated. Amazon's lack of transparency on this matter thus *appears* (although it may not be, but concealment is part of the appearance) to be a "hollywood accounting" method of capturing a higher percentage of the revenue than stated in their publisher agreements.

Given that we all have an interest in a sustainable market for e-books, the question of whether this buried charge is taken entirely by Amazon as extra profit and not shared with the publisher (and thus the author, the person who we enthusiastic readers have an interest in seeing rewarded) is actually quite important.

Also @BeeJay, thanks for the recommendation on SmashWords; even in just a quick browse around I've found several titles that seem worth buying, and they seem to have carved out a niche for themselves.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2010 2:37:15 AM PDT
I have a Kindle DX and live in Australia and have found the same as Nigel. I pay a surcharge and have found books to be unavailable. Amazon also recommends unavailable books both on the site and via their emails which is why i unsubscribed from the emails.

Audible is the same as are most other book sellers. Until the day that authors refuse to use publishers that have created this mess it will continue.

The stupid thing with audiobooks is that you might be banned from a digital download but the same publisher will sometimes have an MP3/CD version that they will sell you. Go figure.

I read ebooks and listen to audio books because of eye issues at least with ebooks you can enlarge the print. I wont say the kindles print size options are the best but it's again something living outside the US causes problems with. Most other vendors of dedicated ebook readers eg Nook and Sony don't sell or support their products outside the US. although Sony have said they are looking into it. I am waiting to see what the next gen Ipad has to offer because for the money anyone who purchased the first edition either has money to burn or cant help themselves when it comes to new toys.

I guess the bottom line is they (PUBLISHERS) just don't care as long as they have a major market like the US tied up with no restraints. . . To me this sort of attitude encourages things such Piracy

Personally i get very frustrated when i cant buy an ebook or audio book that is available in my country in hard copy, which with my sight issues are useless to me, all because of publisher greed.

It's bad enough that some books in a book series are different formats eg some are not available in Kindle but available in epub and that you also find that some books in a series are also not available in your area because of this geographic racism that the publishers are allowed to get away with.

Frustrated Reader

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2010 7:39:35 AM PDT
Libertine says:
Hey all,

I'm in Australia but I've never read anything about a surcharge for delivery directly to my Kindle, or added costs for international customers... So I'm just wondering, every time I download a book onto my Kindle am I charged $2 on top of the price I paid for the book, or is the $2 built into the price? If they're charging me $2 without telling me, I'm be very peeved! But if it's built into the price of the book, I don't see how you could avoid the surcharge by downloading to your PC and then transferring to your Kindle... I am confused :(

Z.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2010 7:43:24 AM PDT
I´m pretty sure they built it in because I live in Colombia and it used to be 9 dollars plus 2 dollars because I lived outside the USA, then one day I didn´t get charged the 2 dollars but the 9 dollar books were all of a sudden 11 dollars.

Posted on Sep 28, 2010 7:49:57 PM PDT
BeeJay says:
@Libertine
The $2.00 is built in to the prices you see if your address is registered in Australia so from that point of view they are upfront about it. My gripe is why we have to pay it in the first place and no, even by downloading to a computer, you can not avoid this fee.
I have spoken to Amazon customer service and even they don't understand it. They said I could avoid the $2.00 by downloading via computer but it's not true - the price remains the same if you select this option. It is just an added cost we bear for not being American.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2010 8:43:12 PM PDT
The Kindle book price is automatically adjusted in most cases. Sometimes you can see this before you purchase eg the book price is dearer when you look at a more detailed view say from a list view.

The easy way to confirm this is simple make sure you are not logged into your account or that the country shown at the top left side is not outside the US if it is change it to the US and make note of the book prices then log in or change the country to Australia and recheck the book price. Also check your bank statement and see if there are small Amazon charges aside from the book purchases.

Amazon uses your billing address and probably your internet connection to find your region as far as i can tell so there is little you can do because once you sign in to buy it will check anyway before selling you the book.

The Amazon agreement did note that they can/may= WILL charge extra outside the US.

Posted on Sep 29, 2010 12:05:38 AM PDT
MikeW says:
There's recently been a new "gotyah" for foreign users.

I bought a Kindle (Wifi only) from Amazon UK as I was going to be visiting my mother in the UK and so could get it delivered free. The cost was in total roughly what Amazon US would have charged me for postage to Europe on a model ordered from them.

But even though I ordered the device from Amazon UK (from my non-UK account), they still do not let me use the Kindle store at Amazon UK to order content for it - in fact that Amazon UK Kindle store won't let me even see the prices there. Instead I'm told to order content from Amazon US where all the comments in this thread naturally apply - i.e. different prices that are supposedly because of higher taxes but which in fact are way higher than higher taxes would justify (and even 100% tax on a price of 0 dollars is zero, surely).

Posted on Sep 29, 2010 1:12:49 AM PDT
lmj says:
I'm also in Australia, and I'm happy that I no longer have to pay $2 for FREE books... All other books, though, carry the $2 surcharge... If it's an Indie Author, I contact him/her and ask if they'll publish on Smashwords... I still get the kindle format, but save the $2 per book... I buy a lot of books, and Amazon is missing out due to this extra charge.
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