International Kindle: A Review From A Biblioholic Stuck In a Land of Expensive Print Books

Joanna Penn reading a James Rollins thriller on the Amazon Kindle in the hammock

Joanna Penn reading a James Rollins thriller on the Amazon Kindle in the hammock

I now go to bed with my Kindle! It  joined the ranks of much loved technology within about 2 hours of receiving it. I have already bought 3 books and read for a number of hours on it. It’s fantastic!

The Kindle might be old news to Americans, but for the rest of us, it is brand spanking new!
If you are not in the US, you can order a Kindle Wireless now – no more waiting, it’s finally here.

Why is the Kindle so great?

  • Easy win: Availability. I live in Australia and it is the first decent e-reader available here. Sony don’t sell the E-Reader here and the others haven’t had great reviews. I ordered my Kindle and it arrived in it’s beautiful box very quickly. It is easy to set up and very very easy to spend money on!
  • It saves me money immediately. I am a fast reader and I love reading. I don’t have a TV and buying digital music/movies and now books is essentially my entertainment. I will devour fiction in one (long) sitting but since moving to Australia have not bought much because of the expense. New books are between $30 – $45 here (that’s almost equivalent in US $ at the moment). This is utterly ridiculous and I earn a good wage plus have a budget for books, so I wonder how others manage. I will get the book from the library or order print off with shipping rather than pay those prices. Yesterday, I bought Socialnomics for $12 and Trust Agents for $12 on the Kindle, both are around $40 in the print bookshops here. That is a huge saving, even though you might consider it a high price for an ebook! I will have paid the cost of the Kindle off in no time with the number of books I buy.
  • Reading plain text is great on the Kindle. There is criticism that the Kindle is not a multi-functional device, it’s not colour and doesn’t have much functionality.  But this is essentially a book! It is very easy on the eyes and great to hold. It’s light and slim and beautiful. For reading plain text books, it’s perfect. I zipped through some chapters of Socialnomics before starting a James Rollins thriller. You can also save books in your want pile, so you don’t have to buy them all at once.
  • It’s wireless. Gorgeous! I love this feature! This is brilliant for authors and for publishers who embrace this (and of course, for Amazon!) It means I can buy a book and have it in minutes, sitting here in my house. I can be reading the blog of some brilliant new author, and immediately make a purchase of their book on Kindle. I don’t have to remember to order it from a store. With the lower prices, it’s lower risk so people will buy more. There is evidence that Kindle owners buy more books, and now I can see why.

These are my main reasons, and I definitely recommend buying a Kindle. If you are a devourer of books, then it’s definitely worth it!

Incidentally, my books are also available on the Kindle: “From Idea to Book”, “From Book to Market” and “How to Enjoy Your Job”.

What are some of the downsides of the Kindle?

  • The main criticism is the Amazon behemoth DRM (Digital Rights Management) issue, where the formats are locked and incompatible with other devices. This is a common discussion amongst ebook afficionados but I don’t think most users would even notice. If you are an Amazon buyer, you are happy to buy Amazon ebooks on your Amazon device. There are also some hacks to get around the issue of  putting other documents on the Kindle if you are tech-minded.

So I am definitely a fan of the Kindle, although I am also saving for the elusive Apple tablet that may appear in 2010. Technology is so elegant these days, it is hard to resist!

Here’s a video I did on my iPod Nano video player – I’ll be doing lots of these for #NaNoWriMo as well. I’m embracing video :)

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  1. says

    From Roger Sperberg by email – I thought other people might like to know the answer too.
    I was wondering about how the international Kindle will work in Australia.
    In the U.S., the Kindle connects to Amazon via Sprint’s 3G network. (K2 and DFX, that is.) This is a really large network, so basically it means that wherever you can call on your cellphone you can also connect to Amazon to purchase a book or download an earlier purchase. On many occasions, I have also used the Kindle to access my email, Google and Wikipedia, in order to get some piece of information I needed from the internet when wifi was not accessible.

    (As you know, surfing the web is not pretty on the Kindle, but it’s loads better than on a 300-pixel-wide cellphone screen. And there’s no charge for general internet use.)
    Occasionally I convert a report or a book from another format into mobi format and email that to my Kindle; there’s no charge for that.

    As a consumer, I have three strong responses to the Kindle:

    *when I’ve just finished a book, I am more susceptible than at any other moment to purchasing a sequel or another book by the same author. With a new title costing $10 compared to $25-$28 in hardcover, I find buying a book on the Kindle to be very satisfying — it scratches my itch and leaves me with a feeling of “I saved money” (even though I’m spending money on a book I might not have purchased otherwise)

    *reading other material on the Kindle screen makes me more contented than having to read it on a computer screen

    *not paying by the minute for internet access makes me grateful to have the Kindle’s 3G-accessible browser (instead of frustrated at its navigational difficulties).

    How well will these aspects translate to the international Kindle’s use in Australia? I know the network is different, I know there are charges I don’t incur. But how different will the book-buying and Kindle-using experiences be because of these differences? I’m hoping you can tell.

    Thanks for taking the time to let me know.
    Best regards,
    Roger Sperberg

  2. says

    My reply:

    Hi Roger, thanks for your question.

    Here is what I think is happening – there is a $2 charge for the wifi access, which I think uses the 3G network. I have not had any trouble downloading books.
    I haven’t tried surfing the net on the Kindle, but I use my iPhone (happily) for this, so not really needed.

    I also love the “save money” feeling as I have bought 3 business books in the last week for $11 each, which would have cost $42 in print. Books are so expensive here in Australia.

    The biggest difference for Australians is that the range of books is not so great as for the US. The books are available by country so we don’t get a lot of the new fiction novels. I’m hoping this will change next year. Also, non-US authors/publishers still can’t publish on the kindle, although I’m also hoping this will change soon. I have published my books on there but through a friend in the US.

    I hope that answers your question, but I think it will take off. I am showing people mine wherever I go and there is a lot of interest.
    Exciting times indeed!


  1. […] one of the first people in Australia to buy the Kindle when it finally reached these far shores. Here’s my original review. Things have changed a lot in the last year in the publishing industry with the popularity of […]

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