The $2 International Fee

Update: From reports of users to us, it seems that Amazon are slowly removing these fees on a country by country basis. As this appears to be a continuing effort, we’ve closed the petition for new signees as the problem is being addressed. We’ve kept the text below for posterity. We might not have been the absolute deciding factor that achieved this result, but we’ve all certainly made a difference!

As a few people are already aware, most countries outside the U.S.A. pay an extra $2 for each book purchased through the Kindle store. Many people are not aware however, as the fee is automatically added to the price of the book when browsing the Kindle store, and no notice is given that you are paying more than American customers.

This was originally added to offset the cost of using 3G networks to deliver books via Amazon’s Whispernet service. The problem is, even if you transfer your books via WiFi or USB you will still pay the $2 fee.

Various people have contacted Amazon about this, but some feel they are getting an unsatisfactory answer. To the credit of Amazon Support, they can only offer stock responses to certain questions. For real answers, you need to go higher.

That’s why we’ve started a petition asking Amazon.com CEO, Jeff Bezos, to explain and clarify the situation.

Let’s be clear; this petition is not about complaining of paying the fee for 3G Whispernet delivered books, nor about the range of titles available in a particular country to another. Both of those issues are out of Amazon’s control.

What we want to know is, why are we paying a fee for a service which we are not using?

You can [link removed] visit and sign the petition to ensure our voices are heard.

Hopefully together we can get an answer!

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16 Responses to The $2 International Fee

  1. Pingback: Welcome! | kndl.info

  2. Donna McCallum on October 28, 2010 at 3:39 am

    Would also be great if we could get the full selection of books available to other countries, very frustrating to want to buy something and not be able to.

  3. That would be down to publishing houses and I’m guessing would vary wildly country-to-country.

    It’s something we’d like to feature, as it would highlight the unwilling publishers whom could then be asked (nicely!) to consider offering their titles for the Kindle.

    Naturally, we’d need a complete publishers list and an accurate way of determining what is offered where, which might get tricky if any particular title is held by different publishers in different countries.

  4. Actually, territorial availability is not exactly under publisher control either; author Charles Stross has thoroughly demystified the inner workings of this by explaining in detail how territorial rights are acquired by publishers separately from agents and authors; in essence, territorial rights are at present a major tool for authors (and agents) in monetising their work.

    The specific territorial divisions in place are largely due to very very old cartel-like arrangements amongst publishers, but as this applies to e-texts there are serious problems. For past works the contractual arrangements for this are a nightmare, and considerably worse than they were for “home video” rights (where sales of rights for VHS in the 1980′s became contract minefields for DVDs in the 2000′s); for current works they are still a horrible mess, largely because (as Charles explains) the existing territorial division system is a basic part of how professional authors are compensated.

    Changing the model of territoriality for future contracts is something that publishers and authors could do (and in fact it seemed like they were starting to get to grips with it), but doing that at the same time that retailers (i.e. Amazon) are trying for force a business model change on the entire publishing industry by taking control of pricing and getting much larger margins from publishers is a problem. Amazon have destabilised everything by fundamentally altering the value of future rights to the publishers, and thus the calculation of the value of those rights for authors and agents to sell them. Eventually a new equilibrium will emerge, but that may take some time.

  5. There are times when ignorance is bliss. I have been really happy with my Kindle. However this hidden charge leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

    Checking previous orders, there is no mention of a $2 fee. So is it the case that the price of the book is simply $2 more expensive than in the States?

    • “So is it the case that the price of the book is simply $2 more expensive than in the States?”

      That’s how Amazon puts it, but that $2 difference (or $2 + VAT in some cases) is for the same edition. There are many “local” editions of the same title with wildly varying prices, but that’s not the topic here.

      The fact is that international 3G data roaming fees are exorbitant, but interpretation that those $2 cover those fees is ours – Amazon never said that (AFAIK).

      Keep in mind that the fact that some of us used WiFi or USB to transfer a book initially does not mean we will not transfer it via 3G 10 times in future to devices we are yet to buy. So, the only other workable approach would be to charge per transfer, as they do for personal documents, and Amazon clearly wanted to preserve “free 3G” bragging rights (I can’t blame them).

      The first books for which the surcharge is being waived (for me in Croatia) were freebies, but now I see that on some other cheap ones.

      I am not complaining terribly… :o )

  6. Sadly that’s the case, the cost of the book appears with the $2 fee included at the Kindle Store, so buyers have no idea it’s added.

    Some countries have had the fee silently removed (New Zealand is one example) and now enjoy the same pricing as the USA, but most are still paying the surcharge. Some countries are reportedly still paying the $2 for free books, although nearly every country we’ve heard people discuss lost that fee a while ago.

    The best way to find out if your country is affected is to price match a few titles with somebody located in the USA.

    • “The best way to find out if your country is affected is to price match a few titles with somebody located in the USA.”

      Here’s a trick: begin posting on some of fora on amazon.com and use “Insert product link” – prices there are those in the USA (you can discard the post after doing price lookup).

      You can also use sites like eReaderIQ – their prices are also American (this particular site was able to track region-specific prices, but not any more, apparently because of some changes on Ammy side).

  7. maureen gooding on January 16, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Is there any feedback from the $2 fee petition? Is the petition still ongoing? We in SA are still paying that fee.

  8. The $2 fee is bad enough when applied to books that cost 99 cents, basically TRIPLING the price. However that pales in comparison to the most stupid part of all – when it’s applied to books that are otherwise *free*. Dumbest. Move. Ever!

    I love the Kindle, but I hate you Amazon =/

  9. What Amazon does? this is unfair.

  10. Amazon is just unfair company. They are simply thieves!

    • Bojan, Bojan, “thieves” is a bit strong word, don’t you think? It’s not like e-books are necessity – buy them if you feel they are worth it.

  11. Ummmm, I just saw I was replying to pretty ancient posts. Anyway, let them stay – I think they are mostly still relevant.

  12. I live in Hong Kong and after much debating I bought a kindle. I was so excited about my purchase, which is why I am so upset to say that I am thinking about returning it now!

    I initially registered my kindle as a HK user and then noticed on the home screen that everything was in Chinese same for the Kindle Store, in fact, I couldn’t even search for regular classics (think Pride and Prejudice or the Millenium series) because they weren’t coming up (I am assuming because I was typing everything in English and the site was set on Chinese)!! Unsure what to do, I simply went online at amazon.com to find the book I wanted, when I requested to have a sample sent to my Kindle, my answer was extremely frustrating: Samples of this title are not available for your country. How is this possible?!?! One of the best features of Kindle is that you’re allowed to have a sample before purchasing!!!

    After some more research, I learned about the US2 fee on all international users. This is just despicable in my opinion – the whole reason I finally decided to go ahead and purchase the Kindle was because I compared the prices of the Kindle ebooks to what I can get in my local bookstore and found that they were around the same price. But with this extra US2 fee I am paying above and beyond what I can just get at a regular bookstore. After reading more about the US2 fee and petition here I am more angered by the fact that it hasn’t been remedied for many countries and I am especially disappointed as I only own an WiFi Paperwhite Kindle.

    I really enjoyed the reading experience on my Kindle, but this is just too annoying and wrong.

    Do you have any progress on how this petition is coming along? Thanks!

    • The $2 fee is gradually being removed on a country to country basis – they have to negotiate agreements with publishers from what we understand, so some countries continue to carry the fee.

      As for the lack of samples, it’s best to ask Amazon support to see if there’s not some setting you can change, or if you’re locked out of them completely.

      Different countries have greater and worse levels of Amazon support (hence our website to try to help explain it) but that’s the first I’ve heard of restrictions on samples. Was it one publisher or more?

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