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Amazon Kindle International Edition - Amazon Kindle International Edition

By Riyad Emeran



Our Score:


With dimensions of 203 x 235 x 9mm and a weight of 289g, the Kindle is larger than the Sony PRS-505, and it weighs more than the touch-screen Sony PRS-600. It's also worth mentioning that the leather cover that you see in the photos is an optional extra that will add another $20 to that price.

In use, the Kindle is pretty intuitive, with prominent Next Page buttons on both sides, along with buttons for the previous page, Home, Menu and Back. Navigation is performed via a tiny joystick, which works reasonably well, but can be temperamental at times. I can't help thinking that a touch-screen interface would make things far easier, but I also know that I wouldn't want that lovely screen covered in greasy finger marks.

Battery life is good - in fact I've only had to recharge the Kindle once in the past two weeks, although I haven't used it every day. But that's the beauty of e-ink, once the page is drawn, the screen is then passive and draining no power from the battery. Of course the built-in 3G is probably the major drain on the battery, so it's good to see that you can turn the wireless functionality off when you don't need it.

There's no doubt that the Kindle should be the best eBook reader on the market, but in reality, it's not. What I should be looking at here is a proper UK, or at the very least, a European version of Amazon's eBook, rather than a US version with international wireless functionality. I can't help but feel that I'm being asked to make too many compromises because Amazon doesn't want to commit to supplying the Kindle outside the US.


Having waited so long for the Kindle to arrive in the UK I find myself somewhat underwhelmed by its arrival. The ability to buy a book and be reading it in seconds is, without a doubt, a fantastic feature, but it's not enough. The need to order the Kindle from the US and pay for it in USD will be enough to put off some consumers, along with the need to continually buy books in USD from Amazon.com. Add to that the fact that the Kindle store is nowhere near as extensive as it should be, and the fact that you're paying more for an electronic version of a book than you are for a hardback!

The idea of subscribing to periodicals is great, but the fact that anyone outside of the US won't get any pictures in those publications, even if they are local to that reader, spoils what would otherwise be a superb feature. Then you've got the built-in web browser that also won't work outside of the US, all of which goes to prove that this International edition of the Kindle is more about cashing in on foreign markets, rather than serving them.

But it's the proprietary eBook format that really spoils the party for the Kindle. Because this device will only read eBooks purchased from Amazon, you're missing out on a simply massive library of free literature that you could happily read on pretty much any other eBook reader. Perhaps if Amazon improves its available library of books and reduces the price, then this won't be so much of an issue, but for now, it's a deal breaker for me.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 7
  • Features 8
  • Design 8


November 9, 2009, 7:04 am

I'm tempted to say 'what a waste of money'...

Hamish Campbell

November 9, 2009, 1:55 pm

They really do take the mickey with those prices. Has there ever been even an attempted explantation/excuse/justification made for them?


November 9, 2009, 4:05 pm

The clincher against this for me is the tie into Amazon. OK, I may buy most of my books from Amazon, but I want the choice, & without that forget it.

Some specialist books may not be available from them.

Think student with many expensive text books to cart about. The weight saving would be great but those sort of books will not be available.

Likewise (for me) specialist bird books.

This might be for others but still not for me yet.


November 9, 2009, 4:15 pm

It's more of a joke than an actual product. Why would anyone consider it?


November 9, 2009, 4:23 pm

I understood from the website that the 3G download comes with a roaming charge also

Doug Ellison

November 9, 2009, 4:41 pm

The books are just too expensive. Not a bit too expensive - twice, three times, four times what I would find acceptable. NEVER should an Ebook be more expensive than I can go and buy a real book for. Until those prices drop hugely, I'm not interested in any E-book tied into a supplier like Amazon.


November 9, 2009, 4:51 pm

I am glad that I have a PRS-505.


November 9, 2009, 5:20 pm

I was actually quite conflicted when scoring the Kindle. I wanted to score it lower, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that the wireless delivery is pretty impressive, and that nothing else is doing that – yet. Also, the screen is fantastic, despite being smaller than the one on the Sony, and the device itself isn’t really any more expensive than the competition.

I think that Amazon needs to make a proper UK version of the Kindle, start selling books on amazon.co.uk, and allow you to load ePub books onto it. As Mark said, even though he buys most of his books from Amazon, he’d still like to be able to put content from somewhere else on the device. Expandable storage wouldn’t go amiss either.


November 9, 2009, 6:13 pm

Tied into their store = no thanks and no way, even the iPod can load mp3s, the sony even looks better IMO

Nick 15

November 9, 2009, 7:06 pm

Actually you CAN add non-Amazon content to your Kindle. The Kindle accepts .MOBI format documents via the USB cable. Project Gutenberg has the option of downloading ANY of its books in this format for free, plus there are several websites that offer books in the .MOBI format for free. Archive.org has extremely rare books available in EPUB format. Any book in PDF, RTF, LIT or EPUB format is easily converted using Calibre (its free!). I have over 200 books for my Kindle all copyright free and haven't paid a cent for them. If you want the latest books - yes they will cost you money - but thats the same as if you bought paper books. If you are happy to read the classics and rare books you may find the kindle now means you can access the rarest of books in seconds that would have been totally unavailable previously. Calibre will also allow you to create a library so that you can track your eBooks, so if you're running short on space (after 1500 books!) you can move them in and out as you need. Calibre will even give you free access to magazine and newspaper subscriptions AND send them to your Kindle for free - better than Amazons own service.

Sure the KI has some shortcomings content wise but they are very easily circumvented if you do a little research.

the roaming charge only applies to US cuctomers who are outside the US

there is no charge for international customers when they buy or browse. The KI also has free access to Wikipedia - not as good as the free web access US customers get - but still not too shabby either.

Please note as well that Amamzon charges you the VAT and custom duties when you make your order - so there is no hidden or unexpected charge upopn arrival.

The review is good - but I wonder how long did the reviewer actually have the Kindle - because a lot of the criticisms and comments would have been clearly different following some use and investigation.

Mad Iguana

November 9, 2009, 10:19 pm

I wonder, then, is it worthwhile waiting for the Sony Daily Reader, or whatever their equivalent version will be called?


November 10, 2009, 12:14 am

@Nick – Thanks a lot for the information. I guess I was talking mainly about the lack of ePub support, since pretty much every other eBook reader does support it. It’s good to know that you can convert ePub titles using Calibre, but really you should be able to do that without the need for third party software, free or not. When it comes down to it, not supporting ePub content is much like Sony’s refusal to support MP3 on its early digital music players – it simply makes the end user’s life more difficult than it should be.

Also, you’re right that you are charged the relevant customs and VAT charges at point of purchase. However, my point was that the $259 price point isn’t really what you’ll end up paying. And although knowing what the final total would be at point of purchase is good on one hand, it also means that you don’t have the chance of your package slipping through the net undetected :)

Ultimately I stand by my conclusion that Amazon needs to create territory specific Kindle hardware, software and stores to make the device truly attractive for non US consumers.

Nick 15

November 10, 2009, 2:38 pm


I note and agree re epub and territory specific hardware

I do feel that its no more hassle to convert a book than ripping an mp3 from a cd using itunes for an ipod

I'd be concerned that people would buy something and knowingly try to escape customs - isn't that illegal? From personal experience my Kindle arrived in less than 3 days because the customs was paid upfront - had it been required to be collected on delivery it would have delayed the process by 7 days plus added a whole element of uncertainty to the whole experience

Hopefully Amazon are watching all these forums and the next generation of Kindle will address these issues ;-)


November 10, 2009, 5:52 pm

Hi Riyad,

I think it is hard to do a hardware territory specific for every territory specially if they are planning to do real international operation. Now it is supposed to be working in 100 countries.

But I agree that the software and store versions might make more sense, specially if they considered selling books in other languages too.

Regarding the price of books, if you look at best sellers’ new books (and this is the main market area for the Kindle and for other e-readers) you will see that new Dan Brown's is $30 for normal hardback paper book and only $10 for the Kindle copy.

I agree that some of the old books are more expensive than they should. But I am glad that we can get a lot of the classics for free on the internet.

Also the Amazon store has a lot of classics either for free or almost free ( I have bought the complete works for Shakespeare for $1.00 from Amazon).

Gavin Dowd

December 8, 2009, 2:42 pm

I am thinking of getting one of these for the missus. We both currently read ebooks on our iphone/ipod touch and use Stanza to get our ebooks onto them.

Checking on the Stanza website the desktop app has an export to kindle feature which will convert any ebook to Amazons propriatry format which you can then copy over using the usb cable. I have no idea what the quality of the conversion will be like but at least it's do-able perhaps something for you to look into and add to the review ???

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