International Kindle FAQ

My post about international release of Kindle received more attention than any other post on this blog so far. A lot of readers are asking questions so I’m going to answer these in this FAQ to the best of my ability. Some of the answers are going to be guestimates since I haven’t received my World-ready version of Kindle 2 yet. I’ll keep adding and changing content here as I learn together with you.

What countries is Kindle available to?

As of October 6th, 2009 Amazon has revealed international version of Kindle 2 eBook reader that officially ships to 169 countries. However you should be aware that some features like wireless, experimental web-browser, blog subscriptions (including this one) are not available everywhere. Number of books that you can buy is also different for every country. Complete list of countries, book counts and other details can be found here.

Why isn’t Kindle available in my country? When it will become available?

Although I can’t know for sure since I don’t work for Amazon and never had, from my experience with eBook industry I can guess that it may be related to one of the following:

  • Amazon didn’t rally enough publishers in a particular country so book selection would have been too small.
  • Some provision of copyright law prevents Amazon from offering Kindle in a particular country.

I’m sure that there are no political/religious/etc reasons behind these limitations. Amazon is in the business of making money. And you can’t make money by turning down paying customers. That’s why I’m sure that they are making efforts to overcome these limitations and ship Kindle worldwide.

But I really want to buy a Kindle now. What should I do?

There is a way to buy Kindle when you are outside US. It has been known and used long before Kindle became internationally available. As of recently you will also need to use proxy server, VPN or similar solution to overcome geographical restrictions.

I have already used gift-cards to purchase Kindle and use it outside of the US. Can I re-register it to my “non-US” account now?

I absolutely see no reason why you can’t. You can de-register your Kindle from your “fake US” account, and then register it with your local account. The downside is that you will loose the ability to download books that you’ve purchased from your “fake US” account. So before de-registering you should download these books to your computer make a secure backup copy. It may be a good idea to use one of the secure online backup services. You can then copy these books to your re-registered Kindle and you should still be able to read them.

Why does the coverage map show that Whispernet will work in my country but I still can’t buy Kindle?

Wireless coverage merely indicates where Kindle wireless will work. This only depends on roaming agreements AT&T has with wireless operators around the globe. However more is needed for Amazon to sell Kindles in particular country as was stated above.

Kindle International Coverage Map

Kindle International Coverage Map

Where can I find Whilspernet coverage map?

You can view the large map by clicking on the small map image to the right. Or you can access the interactive map here.

Is international Kindle DX available for purchase?

Currently only international version of Kindle 2 was released. However there are some rumors and speculations that international Kindle DX will be released next year.

What network does international Kindle use for wireless connectivity?

International version of Kindle 2 uses AT&T 3G GSM network in the USA. Outside of US it uses 3G GSM wireless networks of AT&T roaming partners.

Can I use WiFi with Kindle?

No. Not directly at least. You can download books and magazines to your PC via. website using WiFi Internet connection and then transfer them to Kindle using USB connection.

Does international version of Kindle support non-Latin Unicode characters?

Although I can’t tell for sure until my international Kindle 2 arrives, there is nothing on Amazon website that indicates any changes compared to the US version of Kindle. You can still use Kindle Unicode Font Hack to expand the character range Kindle can display.

Is it possible to upgrade my US Kindle to international version? Will firmware update solve the problem?

No. GSM and CDMA networks require different hardware. This hardware is not easy to replace and doing so will surely void your Kindle warranty. Even if you were able to replace the hardware, you would still need to make lots of software changes to make it work. Nobody was able to do this as far as I know.

What is the story with international book download surcharge of $1.99? Who will pay it? Where? When?

International data roaming is expensive. When I visit Canada with my US iPhone, I’m offered a rate of $15.35 per megabyte for data roaming. Average book is at least 300 kilobytes. This would translate to around $5.00 additional cost per book. So Amazon’s surcharge of $1.99 actually looks like a bargain compared to that.

There seems to be a lot of confusion around who is going to be charged this amount and when. My understanding is that only customers with US shipping address would be charged extra $1.99 per book when travelling abroad. Customers from all other countries are never charged anything above the actual list price of the book no matter where they download it. However this is reflected in the book price which is $2.00 higher than for US customers.

Why Australian Kindle is sold without AC power adapter for charging when customers in all other countries get one?

No idea. My guess is that it has something to do with safety regulations in Australia.

Why blog subscription and experimental web-browser are turned off for my country?

Wireless data costs. You can easily use 1 megabyte of traffic just by viewing several Wikipedia pages. In fact homepage of this blog would amount to roughly one megabyte of data if you factor in all of the images. Since Amazon doesn’t own wireless networks it has to pay for all this data. It would be too expensive for them as profits from book sales would not cover it.

My guess is that Amazon was able to strike some kind of special deal with wireless operators in Hong Kong, Mexico and Japan to make this work.

Why do newspapers and magazines come without pictures outside of US?

Same reason – wireless data costs. Images would increase the amount of data that needs to be transferred causing Amazon to loose money on subscriptions. Hopefully in the future when international wireless data becomes cheaper this should no longer be an issue.

Other questions or corrections.

Let me know if there are other questions that you believe should be covered in this FAQ. If you believe that some data became outdated or inaccurate – drop me a comment and I’ll what I can do.

Amazon may be blocking non-US customers from buying Kindle books

The method to trick Amazon into selling you a Kindle if you live outside of US was long known. There hundreds if not thousands non-US people using Amazon Kindle nowdays. However, recently, according to this thread on forums, please using this method started getting the following message when trying to buy a Kindle book:
We are sorry…
We could not process your order because of geographical restrictions on the product which you were attempting to purchase. Please refer to the terms of use for this product to determine the geographical restrictions.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

We are sorry…

We could not process your order because of geographical restrictions on the product which you were attempting to purchase. Please refer to the terms of use for this product to determine the geographical restrictions.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

There could be several things that are going on:

  • Software bug. Several users have reported website having some glitches recently.
  • Amazon did this unintentionally. It could be that they’ve rolled out a general system for geographically targeting or restricting certain products (not just Kindle books) and this message is one of the effects of this system. Perhaps it’s related to upcoming Kindle UK release… If that were the case, based on my own experience with software industry I would estimate that UK launch to be within weeks from now since it doesn’t make sense to make changes to production website that makes millions of dollars worth of sales per day long before you plan to release something. It can be Amazons major move for this holiday season and it would totally make sense. Though this is 100% my speculation.
  • Amazon specifically targeted Kindle books. Most likely this is because one of the non-US copyright holders found out that their intellectual property is sold in their country (ex: France) and they are not getting their rightful share of profits. Then they demanded action from Amazon and Amazon blocked Kindle books for non-US IP addresses. Let’s explore this possibility in detail…

The last scenario is yet another manifestation of how complex international copyright system is. Usually different publishers have rights to the same book in different countries. This worked well for paper book publishing since few people would like to purchase foreign edition of the book due because they would rather read it in their native language. It didn’t make sense to transport books internationally since they are heavy and it’s cheaper to print them close to where they will be sold. However when books went digital this legacy system started causing a lot of grief to publishers, book sellers and most of all to the customers. This was recently demonstrated by events surrounding Orwell’s 1984. Perhaps in the future publishing industry will adapt and embrace the global economy…

In this particular matter I doubt that Amazon would go do great pains to strictly enforce geographical restrictions on Kindle books. Mostly it’s because relatively few people used this loophole and amount of money involved is not significant. If Amazon were to press the issue, it would generate bad publicity just as Orwellioan deletion did. So they’ll only do what is needed to get the particular publisher happy. So I’m sure in time people will find a workaround for this problem.

One good way to try would be to have a separate browser that uses US pusroxy for all interactions with website from the day you create your new account. I’d recommend using real HTTP proxy that you configure in your browser rather than anonymizer websites that load destination websites in a frame as these are prone to bugs. The following proxy list would be a good place to start.

If you are affected by this issue or can add valuable information about the topic – please post a comment.


“Many thanks to Caroline Wong from the amazon forums for giving a hint to the solution. Amazon is now checking the IP address for those without a valid one-click payment option – generally those purchasing with gift certificates. You need to do a VPN to a US ip address – just do a google on “VPN to US” and download the software. Just run the software before any amazon session. Just bought 3 kindle books of amazon using gift certificates.”

So it looks like it is IP-related. Using public US proxy or VPN should solve the problem. I’ll look into the UltraSurf software and will post a review once I’ve tested it myself.

Amazon specifically doing the check for people without one click buying option would explain why most US residents travelling abroad like me will not be affected by this change.

Update 2:

I’ve just received the following email:


I’m the guy who started the “Am I Screwed?” post on

I update the thread. The problem is now over. People can buy books normally again, without needing to use a US IP. Amazon says it was a temporary glitch.

I myself (in Canada) just bought a book normally and successfully.

So it looks like this might be a side effect of upcoming international release or a simple bug.

Thanks to everyone who helped contribute information on the issue.

How to use the Kindle outside the US

KeyboardIf your one of the many people interested in buying the Kindle, but unfortunately you live outside the US, then until Amazon decides to release Kindle in your local you cant enjoy the benefits of owning a Kindle. Kindle owners here in the US are also interested in knowing whether using their Kindles outside the US is possible. Amazon states in it’s FAQ section that it is working on releasing the Kindle for international markets and asks that international customers to sit tight for the time being.

That’s not good enough for some.

Where there’s a will, there is way. A post by Nerdgirl on her site offers a solution for those unwilling to wait for the official Kindle release in their country. The hack involves tricking Amazon into thinking that your billing address is associated with a US address — apparently Amazon does not verify the address unless you purchase a dead-tree book. This then allows you to associate a Kindle device with your Amazon account, once your Kindle is associated with your account you can use gift certificates to buy e-books. But if your expecting them to be delivered wirelessly then think again, they wont be, you will have to transfer the e-book via USB.

The very fact that someone has discovered this hack proves that people outside the US are itching to get their hands on the Kindle.

You can read the full instructions on Nerdgirls website by following the link below.

Source: Nerdgirl