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Kindle Global

I noticed some Indian users here. So I thought to share a review/experience in buying/importing/using the Kindle in India. Read on and let me know what you think. This review applies equally to readers from other countries where the Kindle is shipped.

My wife decided that she needed to gift me a Kindle for our anniversary. I asked a colleague, if her husband (who was travelling to the US) could carry back one to India. He couldn't, because of an erratic travel schedule. So we decided to order one right here directly since Amazon was kind enough to open up direct shipping to India.

So we ordered on a Tuesday evening (India Time) and Amazon being Amazon shipped the device straight away on the same day itself. I very eagerly tracked the package using the DHL sites (yes, I used three different DHL sites, US, UK and India. They give different info when the package is in that respective country) and in three days flat it was here across the seven seas at Delhi airport.

Only I was in Noida (a sub-urb of Delhi) which is an interstate delivery for DHL. Which meant that I had to fill out an archaic Form 39 to comply with UP state Sales Tax rules. Form 39 is required for all imports made for personal use purchased from an unregistered dealer. (see Update 2 Below)

I never understood the need for GST and this was quick lesson in indrect taxes and sure enough I am a supporter. Go GST.

Anyway, I had neither a clue to what form 39 was or where to get it. The DHL guys were quite unhelpful beyond saying you need it before we the deliver the packet to you. So we called up the local DHL office, who said the office is next door. All you need to do is slip them 200-300 bucks and they will fill it out for you and you are done. Since I wasn't qiute in the mood to slip any money (considering what we had already paid), so I started making calls. Lots and lots of calls. To DHL, Customs and so on.

Finally I convinced enough people who mattered to re-designate my shipment to Delhi to my wife. (There is a hole in the DHL delivery scheme. If you know enough details of the shipment, you can potentially redirect a shipment to an address of your choosing.). This was apt, since she was gifting it to me.

So finally the shipment was delivered to her on the Monday next and the anticipation was killing me. The box was easy to open. Amazon really walks the talk. the device shipped in Amazon's Frustration Free Packaging (Amazon has been running a campaign called Frustration Free packaging to free people from the woes of clamshell packaging).

The other side of the package had the words "Once upon a time..." The phrase used since the late 14th century have been the opening words of dozens of fairy tales and is quite apt.

Anyway, the packaging (which was eco-friendly, no polystyrene packing, just clever use of cardboard) was promptly dispatched. And I booted up my Kindle.

I had bought a free Kindle book on Amazon anticipating the arrival of the Kindle and lo and behold the book landed on the Kindle, without so much as a by-your-leave. AND I was billed $1.99 as delivery charges, since I was outside the US when the book was delivered. After a quick exchange with Customer Care (which is the best in world), the charge was reversed, with the warning that this was a one time affair and the exception will never be made in the future. You need to be careful about this.

So, the Kindle was here, Whispernet was working and so was WhisperSync (I tried it between the Kindle and the Kindle for PC). I was all set.

Before I got reading. I tried out all the features and I became an idea-a-minute submitter of ideas and improvements and suggestions to the Kindle team.

It has a built-in MP3 player. So I uploaded some music into the device. The process is a bit clunky and not quite idiot-proof. You have to upload music into a music folder once you attach the device to a computer. Hello! Hasn't anyone in the Kindle team seen the iPod and iTunes integration? Anyway, the player is nothing fancy and does the job. Plays, skips and backs up songs. There are physical buttons for volume control on the side.

The Kindle has a decent text to speech feature. I say decent not fantastic, because the mechanical sounding aspect of text to speech has not yet been figured out yet. Make no mistake the accent is foreign (to us in India), but it is neutral, very few cultural inflections to sully the experience.

It also supports audio books and it plays them. No rocket science here, since it is already equipped with a MP3 player.

The Kindle has a browser, so I tried to use it. All my research told me that only Wikipedia would work in India and nothing else would. So on a lark I opened the mobile website of India Today ( and it opened! Very impressive. Suddenly, the utility of the device has increased manifold. It has a keyboard, a screen and a wireless connection which works without any setup or work-around.

Hello email! and freedom. Bye bye tiny mobile screen. Sure the screen is black and white and the refresh rate sucks. It is ultra-portable (fits in my jacket pocket) and very useful.

All this came at a price. the device itself is $259, there is priority shipping worth $21 and there is the customs duty worth about $95. (On the customs duty bit. I spoke to the customs officer and he said a duty was charged for ~Rs. 3500. I wonder what happened to the remaining 1000 bucks? DHL chewed it up?)

So this is a total of ~$380 approx Rs. 18,200. Worth it! Completely.

There are no other fees apart from what you pay Amazon. No matter what the delivery man tells you.

This is about the money you will spend on a high-end phone. The Kindle (I feel) is as useful.

What are you waiting for? You could have one of your own in as little as three days. Buy it here

Originally posted at:

If you are planning to buy the Kindle. Do visit my blog and read up on this and other posts on the topic. A lot of useful info for you to consider.
Another follow up post regarding Warranty for Kindle in India.

For those who are new to Amazon. Amazon has stellar customer support. The best in class and in a class above the rest. You will never have trouble when Amazon has anything to do with it.
Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6" Display, Global Wireless, Latest Generation)That said the Kindle being an electronic device needs a warranty and Amazon provides one for one year. The question for anybody in India is "What do I do if something goes wrong?"

A colleague of mine who has had a Kindle as long as me (i.e. a month) last week started to have trouble with battery life. Her Kindle lasted only for about 4 hours or so. So she wrote in to Amazon and they advised her to call a number (A US number). They walked her through basic trouble shooting and then asked her to return her Kindle to Amazon (They even reimbursed her for the cost to send the Kindle back to the US) .

In the meanwhile they shipped her a brand new Kindle. So rest assured your purchase is safe, even if you are here in India.
So the Steps are:
1) Login to your Amazon account
2) Write in to Amazon support regarding the trouble you are having with your device. They will help you trouble shoot over email. In case this does not help. They will provide you with a number to call.
3) Call the number and explain the porblem. They will ask you for the order number, the credit card that you used to purchase this device. The address you shipped the Kindle to etc. so be ready with these details.
4) If they determine that there is trouble with the device they will put you on to the returns guy who will ask you to ship the device back with a low priced carrier (you have to intimate them and take prior approval for the shipping cost).
5) Amazon will send you a new (or refurbished) device.

Originally postwd at
Yet another post on Kindle books.

One question I keep getting asked is how can you buy books for the Kindle in India (or any other country). It is simple enough. You can purchase books only from Amazon. You can't (as of today) go to another digital bookstore (e.g. Barnes & Noble or Sony) and buy a book from there and read it on your Kindle. You have to have an account with Amazon. Your device will be associated to that account and any Kindle book purchases you make will be sent to you over the air i.e. you don't need to connect your Kindle to a computer (You can, but it is optional). There are no other download fees apart from what is mentioned on the receipt.

Now the catch. The books are uniformly two dollars more than they would cost if you are in the US. This is ostensibly to pay for the cost of international wireless tie-ups.

Treason (Navy Justice, Book 1)You also find free books more than ocassionally. The easiest way to find free books is to monitor watch the Kindle bestseller lists. The free ones quickly rise on the bestseller lists. Be aware that the books can be free for short periods of time and then become paid. The book Treason by Don Brown (Yes, that's Don Brown not Dan Brown) was free (I have a receipt to prove it). But now it is priced at $8.79.

The catch for us in India? You will never see these books as free. Towards the middle of November if you were from India, these books used to show up as $0. When you went to the product page the price jumped to $2 (the international tax so to speak). Yours truly, caught up in the excitement of netting a free book, jumped at the chance. I eagerly clicked through to the next page and then clicked on Buy with 1 click. What I didn't realise was that between the search and the product page the price had jumped from 0 to $2. So, I got billed for this amount. When the receipt landed in my inbox a minute later I realised what had happened.

Strictly speaking this was the perfect case of caveat emptor (latin: Buyer beware). The uncharitable might even call it bait and switch. Promptly I wrote into Amazon support and complained. Fantastic customer support. They promptly reversed the charge and guess what? Over the weekend (this incident happened on Friday night IST) they fixed the search. So the price on the search showed what you saw on the product page. The product management team is simply amazing (hats off guys).
So is there a work around? Yes. If you have a US address you can put on file, use that. Once your country is set as the US, you will immediately get access to free books which you can download to your computer and then transfer over the USB.

Originally posted at
Yet another post on the Kindle

After the bit of drama to get the Kindle shipped direct to India, yesterday, I took a rather longish trip on the metro (~40 mins) and decided to take my Kindle along for killing time. After I turned it on and started reading It drew curious looks from fellow passengers. After a while, a gentleman sitting next who obviously couldn't suppress his curiosity asked:

Is it a Computer? No, it is a book reading device.

This opened a floodgate of questions.

Does it have Internet? Yes

Does it play MP3? Yes

What can it do? Read books, lay MP3, Play audiobooks. Text to speech, surf the net (in black and white)

How do you download books? The Kindle has a mobile radio inside, which connects to the Airtel network and to the internet. You browse the Amazon store and buy the books you want.

Can you put your own books on it? Yes. Connect it to a computer.

Can you read comics on it? Yes. But it is cumbersome. and in B/W.

How long does the battery last? 2 weeks with the radio off and 1 week with the radio on.

What is the keyboard for? To take notes and enter search terms and general typing.

Can you check email? Yes (mobile site is recommended). I demoed my Yahoo Mail account.

What is called? Amazon Kindle.

How much does it cost? ~12K in the US and ~18K if you import to India including Customs and Shipping

Where can I find it? Buy it online on Amazon. Just search for Amazon Kindle.

Originally posted at
Amazon has great customer service. Here's proof.

A big part of the cost of the Kindle was the Import fee deposit $98 or so. This along with shipping costs brings the total landed cost of the Kindle in India to $378. If you have read about my experience ordering the Kindle in India, I mentioned there that the Customs officer said that consignment carried a duty of around Rs. 3000. I wondered then as to what happened to the remaining Rs. 2000 or so.

This morning I was in for a pleasant surprise. Over the weekend I got a mail from telling me that I was entitled a refund of $37.35.

This immediately brings down the cost of the Kindle in India to $341 or so. Which is about Rs. 16,000. My Kindle purchase is looking more and more attractive. Smile. If there ever was an example of great customer service. This is it.

The only catch is that I got this money back after nearly two months.

Originally posted at:
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