Dec 282010
 

A lot of people asked me about the usage details of Kindle in India, so I decided to write a post to clear the doubts. There are two ways to buy and get the Kindle in India

  • Get it delivered straight from Amazon : This is the most convenient option but be prepared to pay a hefty import duty on the product. It usually get delivered in 2-3 business days. Last time I checked this was around $56-60 plus the $139 for the Kindle
  • Get someone to get it for you from the US: If you have any friends in the United States, they can buy the Kindle there and bring it for you. This is the cheapest option as you get it for the base price of $139.

If you chose the second option, the Kindle’s base location would still be USA, so what are the implications of using it in India with a different base location? First, on the 3G version your internet will still work free of cost. So you can check mail, browse Wikipedia without any additional charge regardless of the actual and the base location of the Kindle. To get personal documents delivered to your Kindle, you have to pay a charge of $0.15 per megabyte. The transfer would be charged only if the document is send through 3G. If you want to have it delivered for free it can be sent to your free kindle email id (XXXXXXXXXXXXX@free.kindle.com). But if you send it to your free Kindle email, it can only be delivered through WiFi and not 3G.

The base location of the Kindle matters only when you are buying books/magazines from the Amazon store. At locations other than the United States, books are typically more expensive (usually by $2-3) and also the number of free books is lesser in India. So is it possible to keep using the Kindle from India if your base location is US? It is but you need to be quite careful about it.

Every time you make a purchase from the Amazon store, they have some geolocation code to detect your actual location. if you use a USA based proxy or VPN every time you access Amazon store, then there would be no issues. However if you directly access the store with base location as USA, the account gets flagged as being accessed outside the base area. Once the account gets flagged you will see the following message whenever you try to buy.

You attempted to purchase an item while in a different country than listed on your Amazon account.

Once the account is flagged, you cannot purchase anything new from the Amazon store even if you access the internet behind a proxy / VPN account. However all the existing purchases will hold valid including magazine subscriptions which were made before the account was flagged.

I hope this clears any doubts on using the Kindle in India. Please post any other questions in the Comments section and I’ll answer them to the best of my knowledge

Dec 122010
 

I have been using the Kindle for around 3 weeks now and can say with considerable confidence that its one of the best e-Readers ever made. Though, not a fan of standalone devices suited only for a single function, I was bowled over by the Kindle’s immersive reading experience and the eInk display which looks amazingly similar to real paper.

The only real disappointment with the Kindle is the cost of the content in India. A typical NYT best seller costs $9.99 usually half the cost of the print edition in the USA. But in India the same Kindle ebook costs $11.99 compared to the print edition cost of $5 (250-300). Now, the Kindle edition has no printing, warehousing or shipping costs unlike the print version. The two major costs are the author royalties and the network charges paid to AT & T for their international roaming service on the Kindle. Given the fact that I download books on the wifi instead of 3G, what is the justification of imposing this additional cost on me? The increased price isn’t confined to ebooks alone. A one month subscription to Hindustan Times costs $9.99 in India, which is 400% more than the print version.

In my opinion the cost of the commodity should be based on the purchasing power of the local currency. In the United states, an ordinary meal would cost around $10 and a movie ticket around $8-10. In India these figures are only about $3-4 (Rs 150-200). In a price conscious market like India, expecting someone to pay twice the cost for digital content doesn’t make a lot of sense. If Amazon wants to take advantage of the huge volumes here, it will have to make content affordable so more people are willing to pay for it.

Given the fact that Kindle is essentially useless without content, lower ebook prices give a huge boost to the device sales. Doing otherwise encourages piracy already rampant in the print edition books (You can get a bootlegged copy of any popular novel for $2 in most Indian markets). I am subscribed to the only available Indian magazine on Kindle – India Today, but I never changed my region to India and am wary of doing it because the prices immediately go up.

The Kindle is a great device, but it will only be able to sustain its top position if Amazon brings more local content to the device and takes care of the pricing concerns outside the USA.