The Kindle in Ireland (and Europe) – a PS

Postscript, October 2009

As this post gets a lot of readers, it may be worth noting here that the position has changed since I wrote it, and that the Amazon Kindle is now available to Irish (and European) customers. You can see the details in my more recent post, here. Furthermore, in another more recent post I have also speculated on the arrival of Apple in the ebook reader market.

And January 2010

Amazon has just announced that the larger screen Kindle DX will be available from January 19, 2010, to non-US customers also. And Apple has unveiled its ‘iPad’ device, which will also be an e-book reader (amongst many other things – more details here).

The original post

Following on from my post of yesterday about the Amazon Kindle, it occurs to me that I should add a couple of words about using it in Ireland (a topic I have addressed before, but a while ago). The Kindle is sold on Amazon’s US website, and they will only deliver it to a US address. So in order to buy one, you need to have an American address which you can use for these purposes. There are commercial services that provide addresses and mail forwarding, for relatively little money.

Once you have the Kindle, you cannot in Ireland use the ‘whispernet’ wireless technology; this essentially uses mobile phone networks to provide direct access to Amazon’s online Kindle shop, and allows you to browse the shop and make purchases, which are then directly downloaded to your device. But not outside the US. The first generation Kindle used the standard US mobile network technology which doesn’t work outside North America at all. As far as I can tell, the new Kindle uses G3 access, but it does not appear to allow roaming, so again it doesn’t work here.

There is a workaround. As a Kindle customer, you can choose to download books from the Amazon store to your computer (and this you can do here), and then transfer the files (i.e. the e-books) to your Kindle via the USB cable. The only snag is that in order to do so you need to be using both a US address (but if you have the Kindle you’ve already got that, presumably) and US payment methods. Until recently I thought that required a US credit card, but a reader of this blog kindly drew my attention to the fact that an Amazon gift card will do the trick, and you can buy these online with your Irish (or whatever) credit card.

Phew! Seems like way too much trouble? Perhaps. Maybe the Sony device (which is somewhat more basic, but which does work in Ireland) is a better choice? Perhaps – but not if (like me) you’re a Macintosh user – it only works with Windows. And there is one other bright spot. Thousands and thousands of books, including pretty much anything out of copyright (i.e. all the classics) can be got free from various websites, in Amazon Kindle format. And you can also (although again this requires a workaround) transfer any pdf document to the Kindle.

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22 Comments on “The Kindle in Ireland (and Europe) – a PS”

  1. willow80 Says:

    Got a US Mailbox for International Shipping is who I use! It’s yours for $5, not rented

  2. Grainne Says:

    There are rumours of Amazon launching kindle in the UK market in time for the Christmas 2009 shopping season:

  3. Clair Says:

    I was given a kindle for Christmas 09′ having given one to my brother in the U.S.last May. I am familiar with how it works in the U.S. and the one I received here in Ireland seems to work pretty much the same way. So far I have had no difficulties all my downloads have come right to me with no problems. I had been thinking of getting the sony e-book but am pleased that Amazon opened up availability before I purchased as my research seemed to indicate that the Kindle is the superior reader…so far.

    • Clair, the only thing you need to watch out for is this: Amazon makes a small charge (actually, it’s over $1) every time you download something wirelessly on Kindle outside the US. If you want to avoid that, either download in the US (where it’s free), or else download to a computer (also free~) and then transfer to the Kindle via USB.

    • Ger Fisk Says:

      I have just received by Kindle and was looking forward to downloading books directly to the device. However, I’m not having much luck so far. When I try to access the Kindle Shop I get a message saying try again or restart using the menu, settings. However, when I get to settings the only obtion available is to register. Which I can’t do. I had a Sony Ereader, which gave me some trouble after 2 years, when I heard the Kindle was available in Ireland I decided to invest in it. The main attraction of the Kindle is the downloading without a pc. Has anyone any feedback?

      • Bob Sil Says:

        got Kindle a couple of weeks ago. Same problem-unable to access the downloads.
        What a bummer.

        • This shouldn’t be a problem, depending on which Kindle you bought. If it’s the international version, you should be fine. If it’s the US version, you can’t download directly unless you’re in the States, but you can do a workaround – contact me if you think I can help!

  4. Clair Says:

    On the credit card issue, has always accepted my Irish Mastercard. I have used them since 2003 and they have never questioned where the card originated. I imagine if you couldn’t use your European card on amazon you couldn’t use it while traveling either which would make it rather redundent.

    • Clair, my apologies for the late response. You should now be able to download ebook titles on your computer with your Irish (or other normal) credit card – since the international version of the Kindle was released the former restriction was lifted.

  5. A lot of really good work you put into this.Very helpful !I knew I wanted a netbook and purchased one before my Kindle. I tried reading from it, but it really did hurt the eyes after awhile. I tried changing the contrast (light text on dark background), but it didn’t really help for long hours of reading.

    When I got my Kindle I realized how much BETTER e-ink is for reading. Still really like my netbook, for the tasks I use it for, but reading is not one of those tasks. If someone ever came out with a netbook with a dual capability screen (e-ink/LCD), THEN I might consolidate to one device. But I really do like my Kindle.

  6. Tony O'Malley Says:

    We live in Ireland and recently bought a Kindle at a London Airport whilst returning home. We now find that we have a UK Kindle and can only download books to our Kindle if the Kindle is physically present in the UK. Similarly, we cannot purchase titles from the Amazon international (.com) site because it recognises our Kindle as being a UK Kindle. Does anybody know a way around this frustrating difficulty or know why this Kafkaesque situation exists?

    • I am slightly confused by this. As far as I know, you can only buy a Kindle online from Amazon – are you sure that’s what you bought? Those you buy (unless it’s a US-registered one) can function anywhere in the world. In other words, a UK Kindle can download easily from Amazon in any country, Ireland or elsewhere.

  7. Aine Says:

    Can a kindle purchased in the US be plugged in to the electricity supply directly if I get a european plug

  8. Dave Says:

    Can you use the Webkit browser on the new Kindle 3 in Ireland to access sites like google over the whispernet?

    Does it make a difference if I buy a US one ( going there next week) or should I buy an Irish one ( and pay the extrac VAT) ?


  9. staad7 Says:

    Ipad 2 is coming out. Lighter, slickier. Positioned to take the ebook reader market. I hope DX price is lowered, otherwise adding just 200€ would qualify me to buy the Ipad which has more functions than just reading ebooks.

  10. Anne Desmond Says:

    I got a present of a Kindle from the USA.
    I am living in Ireland and see that certain popular books, e.g. “Even Silence has an End” are not available for download to Ireland even though they are available to UK and USA.
    Any advice greatly welcomed.

    • Unusually, this actually seems to be a Kindle title that you can only get while you are in the UK or the US – I suspect this is for copyright reasons, though I can’t immediately see why it would be so. You should be able to get it if you download it while you are (temporarily) in either country…

  11. Niamh Says:

    Hi. Thanks for giving us all this fantastic information.
    I’m thinking of buying a 3G Kindle and was wondering whether it’s possible to access my gmail account using the 3G network here in Ireland.

  12. connie boland Says:

    i recently purchased a kindle in the US but now the battery is registering low and when I plugged into electricity with my european plug, it is not charging

  13. Tim O'Flynn Says:

    I bought a Kindle 3G +Wifi from theTesco store in Wilton, Cork for my wife as a Christmas present, but when I tried to download a book via Whispernet I got the same answer as some of the previous contributors. I then downloaded the Kindle App for PC and then I tried it again and low and behold it worked after a time.
    What I did find strange about doing this was that I had to go on to the website and download from there instead of downloading from the website, which would make a lot more sense!!!
    I sent in an enquiry about not being able to download Kindle books from the uk website and the reply I got back had something to do with digital copyright. What a load of old cobblers!!! if you can download Kindle books from the website then wouldn’t there be something about Digital copyright from the USA, as well? I think it has an awful lot to do with ‘corporate bullshit’, if you ask me!!! If you download a Kindle book from any amazon website it should make no difference whatsoever!!!

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