Have ordered a Kindle 3

In about a weeks time I hit that magical number that is 41. For once I’ve become very school-boyish and said to Thumpah in a bit of an Andy way (as in Lou & Andy): “I wont thatt won”… I don’t think I’ve ever insisted on wanting something for my birthday, so its quite a refreshing change.

A chance remark from a fellow expat who said they’d Twittered from their Kindle put me onto the idea. Having read about it on the Amazon site and having gone through umpteen forums and blogs on the subject I decided – “I wonted won”.

I love to read, sadly mostly in English, when I should be reading French. OK at a push I can read a magazine or a comic book in French (especially Gaston), but a full blown novel usually tries my patience a lot. Oh and I have a lot of books… they take up space, which when you have young children you realise isn’t such a good thing. Even if our house is a decent size, there are only so many magazines and books I can actually store and many have been relegated to the dampness that is “le cave” – to no doubt deteriorate.

So a Kindle seems the ideal new toy for me… not to mention the availability of reasonably priced books and a few free ones to boot. It’ll be a definate advantage for when we go on holiday… plenty to read (on holiday is when I read the most) and little precious space taken up in our car, which is usually full of toys and baby things.

Something else attracted me to it too… the fact there is a “mini browser” (experimental) included based on the webkit engine, which is used for Safari. Indeed the whole Kindle caboodle, to my surpise, is based on Linux. Did I say I was a closet Linux lover?

With all the advantages I’ve outlined above, there are a few dis-advantages. Some of which are mainly due to where I live. The Kindle comes (with the exception of the large DX version) in two formats. One with wi-fi only and another with wi-fi AND 3G hook up. I’ve decided to get the latter, although still feeling doubtful about the 3G actually being useful to me. In short, both these ways of connecting are for ordering books from the main Amazon Kindle site. However, there has been talk of being able to also surf “other” sites, namedly (for me) Gmail and Twitter… which could be an additional useful bonus despite the experimental nature of this whole thing. Especially if as Amazon says, there are no charges for 3G* use.

There has been talk of certain limitations for those of us here in France, though. In that the wi-fi can be used to surf these “certain sites”, to sites saying that we can only access Wikipedia here. As for the 3G capability, there is talk of being able to use this to surf which is particularly useful for when there is no accessible wi-fi hotspot in the vicinity. But here in France I have seen mentioned on a video tutorial on Youtube that the 3G connection can only be used to order books from France.

Well… I’ll soon find out. It is, needless to say,  due to the keyboard layout of the Kindle and the lack of mouse or touch screen, surfing anything on it is going to be extremely limited. In particular, when composing long emails.

Still on the theme of negatives, I have been somewhat disappointed with the way Amazon seems to see things. For one thing I am a Brit living in France, so you’d think that I’d be able to order my Kindle from Amazon.co.uk… You would be wrong. As soon as I try, my IP address throws up the “this item is not available in your territory” message. Double Grrr…

So next stop Amazon.com… Well here you find that all the “other” countries, including France, are listed in a drop down menu. So using this I started to order my Kindle. Of course I realised that I’d end up having to spend on postage, but wasn’t prepared for another nasty surprise. In addition to paying to get it delivered to me, it seems that I also have to pay an import tax. OK not Amazon’s fault totally I admit. More the stingey French government on this one.

However, if Amazon sold their Kindles to the European market from the UK; Wouldn’t that have been better PR? In my mind it would because as a result of this little glitch I now find I have to pay a further 54€ in postal charges and taxes. Shot yourselves in the foot there, didn’t you Amazon?

Then… I find that having ordered the Kindle, the shipment date is listed as between the 21st and the 25th January. Considering I placed my order just a couple of days ago I find this unacceptable.

In short. I am looking forward to being the proud owner of a Kindle (eventually) and have even made up a wish list of books. It will remain to be seen what limitations the phone network has for the Kindle in France. Will certainly write up about my observations on here in the coming weeks (yes, weeks).

This gives me plenty of time to look around for sites selling e-books. For the moment I have been surfing the following:

  • Gutenberg Project (Free e-books lots of Beatrix Potter in the childrens section)
  • Feedbooks (if you are in France you’ll find a “view in English” link at the bottom of the page)
  • Mobipocket (which has books in French along with German, English & Spanish).

Oh and if you are looking to get a protective wallet for your Kindle… look on Ebay. Buying from Amazon.com is expensive and of course you are likely to get stung for those import taxes if you order it seperately! I’ve ordered mine from a UK seller on Ebay… pity I couldn’t have done that for the Kindle in the first place… *sigh*

* Amazon say that there will be a small charge for using the 3G connection to transfer files. See here.

See also – Kindle Impressions, A slight Kindle Update

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