Dear Jane: Is there any way around the whispersync charges on Amazon?
Dear Jane is a column wherein you write in questions about ebooks and I try to find an answer. If you have a question, send it to jane at dearauthor dot com.
I’m a fairly new e-book convert. I first bought my Kindle to use when I travel, but now I find myself using it all the time. I love it! And no little thanks to the great info you’ve been putting up on e-books and e-readers over the years. Thanks!
However, as my e-book purchases become more and more, I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with the additional fees Amazon imposes on all international customers. Supposedly it’s for their costs of 3G outside the US, but I have a WiFi only kindle, so that makes no sense. Even people using the kindle apps for PC etc have to pay these fees. 2$ may not seem like a lot per book, but it really accumulates, and I find it annoying to think that it all goes straight into Amazon’s pocket, with no money for the authors. For cheaper e-books or novellas that in the US cost 0.99$, we end up paying more than three times as much (the e-book VAT is also higher in Europe).
Do you have any suggestions for us international e-book lovers? Should we abandon the kindle? Can Amazon be made to see reason?
Your short answer is not to use WhisperSync which is obviously ridiculous because Amazon should not be selling a device with wifi that makes virtually all downloads have a $2.00 tax. In some cases, like for those $.99 books, that tax is 200% the price of the book.
But the best way to incur no additional charges is to turn your wifi off and download and install your books via the USB. Select “Transfer via computer” before clicking on the “Send to device” command. Many books include the VAT and free international wireless delivery. (Screenshot while I pretend to be from Sweden)
But, again, what is the point of having a wifi device if you can’t use it? The next easiest thing to do appears to be to change your Country Settings. Under Manage Your Kindle, look for “Country Settings”
Enter a new country of residence.
You don’t have to have a credit card associated with your account. Instead, buy yourself giftcards and use the Amazon gift cards to fund your Kindle Account. You may have to have a separate account just for your Kindle if you buy a number of things from Amazon other than ebooks. One way to get yourself US bookcards is to get a US friend to send you the giftcard. (You can pay them via Paypal). One person on Dear Author once stated that gift cards were a good way to limit spending on the account as well.
Amazon can check where you come from based on your IP address, but others report that this has been successful for them. A person in this thread, however, was only able to download 7 books before Amazon caught on.
Here’s a website where you can check what level of Amazon support you have depending on the country you live in. For example, New Zealand allows you to use the 3G Whispernet service for free and has no $2 surcharge.
Whereas Sweden offers free 3G service, but also has the $2 surcharge.
According to posters at Mobileread, the $2 surcharge is slowly disappearing for residents of various countries. They surmise this is due to deals Amazon is making with local telecoms.
This applies only to books purchased at Amazon, though. For use of the personal document delivery service, Amazon is charge$.99 USD per megabyte. (See e.g., the account of this Indonesian Reader)
In answer to your last question about whether you should drop the Kindle altogether, it’s a good one. One of the biggest advantages of the Kindle is its ability to move you away from the personal computer altogether. You can load your books onto your device using the personal document delivery service (emailing books to yourself) and you can wirelessly sync your books. But if it costs you $2.00 per book, then the whispernet is more annoyance than advantage.
The Kobo Touch Reader is international. It’s store is international. It doesn’t have a $2 surcharge and does have syncing capabilities between mobile devices like an Android or iPhone and the Kobo itself. You can buy books directly from the Kobo and download them to your device at no charge. The drawbacks for the Kobo is that you can’t take notes on books that you don’t purchase from Kobo (or use a dictionary for those non Kobo store books).
The Sony Reader is a tethered device (meaning you can’t get books onto the device without a cord) but it’s got one of the best organizational setups on an ebook reader, not to mention it’s a gorgeous looking device.
Without Whispersync, the other touch screen devices might suit you better, but you’ll probably be just as tethered to your computer with other devices as you are with your Kindle.