Kindle Day today in New Zealand

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.

Comments (4)

  1. Leo

    Great news about the Kindle’s arrival in NZ.

    Could you please explain the difference between wi-fi and 3G? I have ordered both.

    You say that books can be downloaded via Vodafone’s 3G network (no announcement yet as of 2.9.2010) – so where does wi-fi come into the picture?

    Thanks for any information you can give.

  2. Martin Taylor (Post author)

    Hi Leo. Good questions and certainly if you can justify the extra money, the WiFi+3G model is the better choice.

    3G refers to internet over the cellphone network. As well as texts and voice calls, all of the mobile companies in NZ now offer internet plans so you can surf the net or do your email from a cellphone. The “3G” label is short for “third generation” which, for NZ carriers, is their latest and fastest internet. The 3G advantage is that you can get internet access almost anywhere you have cellphone coverage, hence you can buy your Kindle ebooks from almost any location. (It also means that, from anywhere, your Kindle can synchronise your last page read, bookmarks, etc with other Kindle readers that you might want to use, such as a Kindle reader app on your smartphone or iPad.) You don’t need a monthly cellphone plan with the Kindle to use the 3G. Its cost is built into the price of the ebooks you download.

    WiFi refers to the free wireless internet that many people have today in their homes or offices. There are also a few so-called “wireless hotspots” in public places such as cafes, hotels, CBDs, airports, etc. Some of these are easily accessed but most are restricted and need a separate payment so won’t generally be available to your Kindle. WiFi has a much shorter range than 3G (typically just enough to reach around the home) but several advantages: It’s free (included in the broadband internet cost you’re already paying), and it’s faster than 3G but this is less important for ebooks which are currently quite small files.

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  4. Leo

    Thanks, Martin. That really clarifies things. I’m glad I ordered the dual-mode model.

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