How Kindle Could Win (or Not) in the UK
Tax headaches and connectivity problems could stifle U.K. Kindle sales, as Amazon introduced on Wednesday its e-book reader to the British public.
To the delight of my fellow UK e-book fans, Amazon announced that the Kindle 2 would be available from October 19. The Kindle was long overdue in the U.K., where it is expected to finally kick-start the e-book market, but it might not be the case yet, as the U.K. version of the Amazon Kindle is only half-baked.
Because U.K. Kindle buyers will have to order the e-book reader from Amazon's U.S. site, customers will have to pay extra tax for the device, due to the country's regulations. Also, because books will be sold from the U.S. site as well, customers would be technically avoiding the Value Added Tax (VAT) system in Britain, which if applied, would make the books more expensive.
Amazon also had difficulties making Kindle's Whispernet wireless download system (hosted by AT&T in the U.S.) work in the U.K, so the company had to resort to downloads via the country's 3G network. Outside 3G coverage, users will have to transfer content to their Kindle over USB.
So if you buy a Kindle in the U.K, you will be able to download books wireless as long as you are in a 3G coverage area. While most of the country is in such an area, indoors 3G coverage in the U.K. is patchy, so for example, I would have to download books for my Kindle from my back garden, as there is no 3G coverage in my living room.
However, Amazon's Kindle will the have the advantage of being the only e-book reader with a wireless connection in the U.K., where Sony has yet to introduce the Daily Edition of its e-reader, which has such capabilities. The U.S. Sony Reader Daily Edition will be the second e-book reader after the Kindle to have wireless capabilities.