Amazon's Kindle ebook reader is finally available in the UK, including the wireless digital book store that made the product an enormous hit in the US.
It'll cost £217 from Amazon's US store, which includes international delivery of £12.22, plus an irritating import tax of £28.36 thanks to it being sent from America. This also means books within the Kindle's built-in book store are priced in US dollars, and the device comes with an American power adaptor.
But Amazon boss Jeff Bezos did confirm the company plans to introduce a UK-specific Kindle store, with prices shown in pounds sterling. Maybe he can send over a UK power adaptor while he's at it.
United Kindle of Great Reading and Northern Eyestrain
In Britain you'll have access to Amazon's digital library of over 250,000 English-language books. Newspapers such as The Times, Daily Fail and The Telegraph will also be available. Just like the books, they are bought directly on the Kindle and downloaded over the built-in 3G wireless connection.
There are no charges for using the wireless service in the UK. To achieve this, Amazon has inked a deal with US mobile network AT&T, which has deals with international networks -- including O2, Orange and Vodafone in the UK -- to provide its customers with international phone services when they travel.
This sounds exactly like roaming -- something you'll be familiar with if you've ever taken your mobile on holiday. That can't be cheap for Amazon, but it appears to mean you'll be able to buy and download books and newspapers in 99 other countries, including the US, France, Germany, Japan and Australia. We've asked the company to confirm this and will update you when we know more.
You can store around 1,500 books on the device, which you'll read on its 152mm (6-inch) electronic-ink display. Unlike the backlit LCD displays on laptops and mobile phones, which offer bonus eyestrain to anyone who stares at them for too long, the Kindle's display looks just like paper. To learn more about how this works, check out our Kindle 2 coverage from earlier this year.
It seems the only thing we're going to miss out on in the UK is the Kindle's Web browser. In the US you can use this to browse sites such as Wikipedia and certain blogs for no extra cost, but this has been axed for now in Europe. Presumably this is to do with Amazon wanting to avoid enormous bills for excessive international data charges. Again, we've asked Amazon to explain this and will update when we hear back.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and we'll do our best to answer them for you. If you want to pre-order, hit up the Kindle homepage on Amazon.com and it should be dispatched on 19 October.