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Old 10-08-2009, 07:44 PM   #1
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Kindle 'international wireless delivery' charges?

I've been looking and have yet to find any threads about Amazon's latest scam, so I thought I'd start one here.

I live in the UK but my books are published by an American house. I occasionally check up on how my own books are doing on Amazon, and I was very displeased when I saw that the Kindle version of my book had somehow doubled in price -- overnight!

I immediately contacted my publisher, who had no idea anything had happened. To him everything was still showing up at normal prices. However . . . Well, I took some screenshots:

http://streetofeyes.com/files/amazonscam1.jpg
http://streetofeyes.com/files/amazonscam2.jpg

Then I confirmed it was happening for other books as well, titles from my publisher and unrelated friends. They had all had the same huge price hike.

The phrase that immediately leaped out at me was 'international wireless delivery', and this has been the only explanation I can find for the sudden jump. Even counting UK VAT at 15% of the $2.99 list price, that's only an extra $0.45. Apparently a couple of kilobytes of bandwidth are enough for Amazon to slap an extra $2.40 onto the list price.

I'm flabbergasted. I'll be sending my opinion of these practices to Amazon, and I'd like to call on everyone reading this post -- American and international alike -- to do the same. It's one thing to make international users pay a little bit extra, but I don't really appreciate this blatant rip-off. Between this and the Booksurge mess a while ago, Amazon seem out to make a bad name for themselves for small press and independent publishing.

Please, if you haven't already, take your business over to a more scrupulous company like Smashwords that doesn't treat its customers like moneybags ready to be squeezed. It's cheaper, better, more pleasant in every way, and I'm much happier to list my books there.

[EDIT] A little bit more digging has turned up their pricing rationale and other interesting hidden charges. If you add the per-book $2 international download fee the price becomes $4.99, and then add 15% VAT on that figure, you end up with $5.74.

Seems the International Kindle really isn't as great as advertised . . .

Regards,
Ryan A. Span

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Old 10-08-2009, 08:20 PM   #2
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It shows at $2.99 for me.


Have you contacted Amazon for an explanation? Has your publisher?

Seems like you maybe already have a bit of a hate on for them or something. Instead of finding out what the facts are and then blasting them you're assuming the worst. Of course the worst may be true, but... They seem to have been having some glitches in getting the international think set up, don't know if this could be one of them or not.

I'm sure if your publisher wants to there's a way to exclude your book from being sold internationally just like it was before the newest version of the Kindle came out.
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Old 10-08-2009, 09:07 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by AnemicOak View Post
It shows at $2.99 for me.
That's because you're in America. The extra charges seem to apply to international customers only.


Quote:
Have you contacted Amazon for an explanation? Has your publisher?
Neither of us has had an explanation from them so far.


Quote:
Seems like you maybe already have a bit of a hate on for them or something. Instead of finding out what the facts are and then blasting them you're assuming the worst. Of course the worst may be true, but... They seem to have been having some glitches in getting the international think set up, don't know if this could be one of them or not.
Amazon is not a nice company. Their general nastiness makes for interesting reading. In my experience, the worst generally is true with them.


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I'm sure if your publisher wants to there's a way to exclude your book from being sold internationally just like it was before the newest version of the Kindle came out.
What would be the point? We want it to be available internationally; my argument has only been about the prices they're charging, which are really quite ridiculous. As a customer I wouldn't be prepared to pay an extra $3 solely because I wasn't born in the USA, especially when I could get these titles off Smashwords (or any other digital distributor) from anywhere for the same price. The inflated price also reflects badly on both my publisher and myself.

I don't mean to sound shrill, but to chalk a global price hike up to a glitch just seems far-fetched.

[EDIT] A little bit more digging has turned up their pricing rationale and other interesting hidden charges. If you add the per-book $2 international download fee the price becomes $4.99, and then add 15% VAT on that figure, you end up with $5.74.

Seems the International Kindle really isn't as great as advertised . . .

Regards,
Ryan

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Old 10-08-2009, 09:52 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Winter View Post
I don't mean to sound shrill, but to chalk a global price hike up to a glitch just seems far-fetched.
And maybe it's not a glitch. I just know some of our international members have been having issues with their tried and true methods for getting books on their Kindles from outside the US and the problems seem to come and go, like stuff is being done on the back end.


Quote:
[EDIT] A little bit more digging has turned up their pricing rationale and other interesting hidden charges. If you add the per-book $2 international download fee the price becomes $4.99, and then add 15% VAT on that figure, you end up with $5.74.

Seems the International Kindle really isn't as great as advertised . . .
Maybe it won't be all it's cracked up to be. Maybe to get hooked up with wireless carriers they're having to pay more than what they pay Sprint. I don't know, but I'd give them a chance to explain.
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Old 10-08-2009, 10:05 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Winter View Post
I've been looking and have yet to find any threads about Amazon's latest scam, so I thought I'd start one here.
OK, I think "scam" is far from what they are doing. Scam means "dishonest" or "fraud".

Let's be realistic here.

First, it is still unclear if someone that lives in the UK and downloads in the UK is going to be charged the $2.00 fee. Even so, that fee is ONLY charge if you have it delivered wirelessly. If you buy it online, d/l to your computer and use USB, same as you would at Smash words, all they are doing is adding VAT... and I think the only place that "scam" can be blamed on is the EU and UK government.

That said, if you don't want the Kindle sales of your ebook, pull it from the store.

BOb
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Old 10-08-2009, 10:28 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by pilotbob View Post
OK, I think "scam" is far from what they are doing. Scam means "dishonest" or "fraud".

Let's be realistic here.

First, it is still unclear if someone that lives in the UK and downloads in the UK is going to be charged the $2.00 fee. Even so, that fee is ONLY charge if you have it delivered wirelessly. If you buy it online, d/l to your computer and use USB, same as you would at Smash words, all they are doing is adding VAT... and I think the only place that "scam" can be blamed on is the EU and UK government.

That said, if you don't want the Kindle sales of your ebook, pull it from the store.

BOb
It's hardly unclear. They charge the fee to any non-US customers. From what I can find on Amazon's confusing information page, you can only avoid the Personal Document Service fee by your proposed method, not the International Book Service fee which I've been talking about, which is included in the list price that you have to pay if you want the content. The fee is location-based per your IP address, and it doesn't get refunded just because you're buying it via your PC.

I'd say the way they're hiding their fees with obfuscation and the nebulous quality of what you're actually paying for is fairly dishonest. I'm not sure it would stand up under close scrutiny by EU law -- the appropriate bodies would at least tell them to give more transparency and clarification.

Regards,
Ryan

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Old 10-08-2009, 11:31 PM   #7
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I was actually a little mislead when I read it. The $1.99 fee for downloading books via wireless was applied when travelling abroad. My argument is, if I buy the Kindle and have it shipped here to Australia, am I required to pay $1.99 per ebook downloaded? I ask as in my view if I am at home I am not travelling abroad so in my country of origin I should not be charged this download fee.

Perhaps Amazon should change their terms to state "Outside of the USA" instead of "travelling abroad".
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Old 10-09-2009, 06:25 AM   #8
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Amazon have replied, but it's not even remotely an answer to my question. Here:

Quote:
Hello Ryan,

Thanks for writing about the price difference on Kindle content.

Strong customer feedback like yours helps us continue to improve the service we
provide, and we're glad you took time to write to us. I'll send your comments to the
Kindle team.

All items available in the Kindle store are listed in U.S. dollars (USD), and the
availability and pricing of titles from the Kindle Store varies by your home country
or region.

If you're browsing in the Kindle store and the country or region displayed in the
upper right-hand corner doesn't match your actual home country or region, you may
see a different price during checkout that is specific to your home country or
region.

You'll also find helpful information on our Using Kindle If You Live Outside the
United States Help page (http://www.amazon.com/kindleworldsupport).

I hope this information helps. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
"The availability and pricing of titles from the Kindle Store varies by your home country or region." Yes, I believe that was the issue in the first place. It's not like I was unclear about the situation, they've just chosen to give me a blank response.

Regards,
Ryan
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Old 10-09-2009, 04:39 PM   #9
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This development has made it to the newspapers today: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology...kindle-charges

Regards,
Ryan
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Old 10-09-2009, 04:46 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Winter View Post
This development has made it to the newspapers today: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology...kindle-charges
I'm sure a lot of what's being mentioned in that article has to do with the fact that UK publishers charge a higher list price for their books than US publishers.


Still doesn't explain it in your particular case (with a US publisher) though. Was your email to general Amazon support or Kindle support? I just hate those canned responses that don't even really answer what's being asked.

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Old 10-09-2009, 08:03 PM   #11
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I'm sure a lot of what's being mentioned in that article has to do with the fact that UK publishers charge a higher list price for their books than US publishers.
Not really, it seems to be the same thing, from the Guardian's quotes -- $9.99 list price plus $1.99 fee, plus 15% VAT, equals approximately $13.75. I don't know where the extra $0.24 is going, but it doesn't seem to match the higher list prices Amazon is throwing up in their own defence. Moreover, if it was just additional VAT being charged rather than this questionable fee, we'd end up with total prices around $11.50.

I think $9.99 is already ridiculously high for an ebook, but I'd say $11.50 is less of a kick in the teeth than $13.99.


Quote:
Still doesn't explain it in your particular case (with a US publisher) though. Was your email to general Amazon support or Kindle support? I just hate those canned responses that don't even really answer what's being asked.
It was general Amazon support. God knows I tried, but I couldn't find any Kindle-specific contact information on their help pages.

Regards,
Ryan
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Old 10-09-2009, 09:05 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Winter View Post
Not really, it seems to be the same thing, from the Guardian's quotes -- $9.99 list price plus $1.99 fee, plus 15% VAT, equals approximately $13.75. I don't know where the extra $0.24 is going, but it doesn't seem to match the higher list prices Amazon is throwing up in their own defence. Moreover, if it was just additional VAT being charged rather than this questionable fee, we'd end up with total prices around $11.50.

I think $9.99 is already ridiculously high for an ebook, but I'd say $11.50 is less of a kick in the teeth than $13.99.
Yes, but UK publishers also charge more for their books in general than US ones (print and electronic). I don't see how that can't be part of the extra cost (again I know that's not the case in your specific case).

An example I posted elsewhere Audrey Niffenegger's new book Her Fearful Symmetry...

US ebook list price $26.99 (approx £17.02)
UK ebook list price £21.84 (approx $34.63)

It would seem to me that the obvious difference in asking price has to be made up somewhere even if Amazon does heavily discount.



Quote:
It was general Amazon support. God knows I tried, but I couldn't find any Kindle-specific contact information on their help pages.
When I had to contact them (as a Kindle customer) I went through this page...
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/custom...deId=200212360

They also have some support forums for DTP.
http://forums.digitaltextplatform.co...ums/index.jspa

I assume they have another support email for DTP for publishers, but I have no idea where that would be found.


Oh, and I'd love to see prices come down worldwide.

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Old 10-09-2009, 10:33 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by AnemicOak View Post
Yes, but UK publishers also charge more for their books in general than US ones (print and electronic). I don't see how that can't be part of the extra cost (again I know that's not the case in your specific case).

An example I posted elsewhere Audrey Niffenegger's new book Her Fearful Symmetry...

US ebook list price $26.99 (approx £17.02)
UK ebook list price £21.84 (approx $34.63)

It would seem to me that the obvious difference in asking price has to be made up somewhere even if Amazon does heavily discount.
Oh, I'm not saying there's no price difference between major publishers' titles in the US and Europe. Living in the UK I'm used to being charged inflated prices for print books. However, that's entirely independent of what's being done here. The international versions of Amazon don't even have a Kindle Store -- there's only one, centralised Kindle operation, located in America and based on American pricings. UK list prices don't enter into it.


Quote:
When I had to contact them (as a Kindle customer) I went through this page...
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/custom...deId=200212360

They also have some support forums for DTP.
http://forums.digitaltextplatform.co...ums/index.jspa
Thanks for that, I may have to try following up through those channels.

Regards,
Ryan
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Old 10-09-2009, 10:36 PM   #14
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The international versions of Amazon don't even have a Kindle Store -- there's only one, centralised Kindle operation, located in America and based on American pricings. UK list prices don't enter into it.
Since Amazon negotiated with the rights holders in the UK I'm sure the UK list prices come into it somewhere. It'll be interesting to see what if anything is different when the Amazon UK Kindle setup launches.
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Old 09-24-2010, 06:34 PM   #15
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The thread is totally out of date and information no longer reliable -- it's from Oct 2009.
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