Kindle: Only in the U.S.A.
If you’ve visited the home page of Amazon.com anytime in the past several months, it’s hard not to notice its big house ad for the Kindle (and now the Kindle 2). And I don’t blame them. Amazon is an amazing company that could probably sell just about anything. (As a writer, I am grateful they started out with books.) With the Kindle, not only does Amazon have the opportunity to sell something of its own creation, which means bigger profit margins; but it also pushes customers to keep coming back for more — books in electronic form — from which Amazon again can take a cut.
If you admire business models like the computer-printer model (cheap printer reliant on expensive cartridge refills) or the cartridge razor (cheap or even free razors reliant on expensive cartridge refills), you’ve got to like the Kindle. It costs $359 upfront, with limitless refills. And, although Amazon is famously quiet about releasing sales figures, the consensus is that the Kindle has been a big success, at least as far as electronic readers go.
So I was surprised to see that the Kindle isn’t available on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.ca. Wouldn’t British and Canadian readers be as eager for the Kindle as Americans?
On a per capita basis, our book has sold better in the U.K. than in the U.S., which is pretty remarkable considering that it’s an American book and that we’ve had far, far less media exposure in the U.K. than in the U.S. This one tiny data point is an indication of the larger truth that there are more readers per capita in general in the U.K. than here; and they like their electronic gadgets, too.
We contacted Amazon to ask why the Kindle hasn’t been exported, but haven’t heard anything back yet. In the meantime, I found the following explanation on Askville.com, which is an Amazon company:
Sorry, no, the Kindle is only sold in the US, and is only able to be used, as far as downloading new reading material, in the U.S. It’s is [sic] based on wireless telephone technology and the signals aren’t transmitted outside the U.S. You can use/read the Kindle anywhere in the world, of course, but getting new material and the initial purchase would not be possible.
That may be an explanation but, from a business standpoint, perhaps not a compelling reason. So, paging all our British and Canadian readers: how keen would you be to buy the Kindle if it were offered?