It’s August 27, and here in New Zealand we’re first to see the new day and last to see the Kindle. But finally it’s on its way. Almost a year after its global release, and as the third generation Kindle rolls out, Kiwis can finally order theirs here with delivery slated for mid September.
Vodafone—the accused-but- never-admitted cause of the hold-up—will be the mobile carrier, providing local 3G support for Amazon’s Whispernet system by which Kindle books can be delivered wirelessly over the cellular network with the communications cost built into the price of the ebook. As well as downloading ebooks wirelessly, Whispernet is a boon if you’re reading on multiple devices as many of us do. It synchronises gadgets so that when you later fire up your book on your iPhone, for instance, it will take you to the last page read. This is a major time saver, especially on slower eInk devices.
New York Times bestsellers are mostly US$11.99 (no NZD pricing but it equates to about NZ$17). This indicates an international download charge of about US$2.00 a book added to the typical US domestic price of US$9.99 for the same bestsellers. That’s still pretty good value and, of course, ebooks from Amazon currently escape the 12.5% (soon to be 15%) sales tax levied here, a tough reality for local booksellers who must charge it.
Notwithstanding the benefits of 3G, especially with no monthly charges, I’d guess most New Zealand buyers will opt for the new US$139 WiFi model rather than the more expensive US$189 3G + WiFi model. At about NZ$200 plus NZ$30 freight, the WiFi model is cheaper than the $295 Kobo unit sold by local bookstore chain Whitcoulls. That gap might narrow if buyers are hit with sales tax at the border but the Kindle’s low value makes it likely it will slip through Customs without a whisper.
More here from NBR’s Chris Keall who also promises a review shortly.