Originally Posted by ATDrake
Back when all Kindle models were 3G only (pre-K3) and the apps were in very primitive stages and the WiFi didn't exist, so it was reasonable to assume that anyone getting a Kindle book outside the US had a very high likelihood of owning an actual hardware Kindle and using the 3G to download their books, according to what I've read on the Amazon discussion boards back when I was still reading them, their CS used to quasi-officially admit that the $2 extra was a surcharge to pay for the cost of the 3G.
This was before Amazon had gotten into place a number of the carrier agreements it currently has and thus had to pay the delivery costs piecemeal at a much higher price. US-registered Kindlers who for whatever reason used the 3G book download function outside the States (travelling overseas, lying about actual address, etc.) had a corresponding $1.99 per book downloaded via 3G fee which would be automatically charged to their account, which was noted in the official help literature. I think they've since ended the overseas "roaming" fee.
The surcharge in some regions also covers added costs of business (think currency conversion, payment to publishers, taxes direct to amazon by their govt, extra programmers and staffing required to service those countries, fill out their forms, pay customs fees, etc) and always has. I'm sure the extra cost of 3G is also a factor (and is shared even by those who don't have 3G, but are in the same country, unfortunately for them).
Prices to individual countries in a region will also reflect VAT (or equivalent) and the current currency exchange rate (which is not quite the same as currency conversion fees, included in the above). I've noticed a fluctuation of about 4-5 cents over the last few months in UK £0.99 titles, for example, in the US store (where $ are used instead). In addition, the big publishers can set a different price per region and per country (and it appears the indies may be able to, as well, from a few comments I've seen).
The roaming fees seem to be dead.