Kindle 2, in Israel

Update: Kindle can now get purchased in Israel, shipped to Israel, with an Israeli credit card, and the Israeli 3G network.

There’s something I didn’t anticipate before I actually started to heavily use the Kindle. Although it seems obvious at first, the implications of books on demand are quite amazing. The thing is, it actually takes less than 5 minutes between the time you decide that you want to buy a book – to the time you can start reading it. Without an e-reader, you are dependent on your local store’s stock, or have to wait for 2 weeks for your book to arrive by mail (at least here, to Israel). But, once we don’t need to move atoms in order to read books – suddenly the access to knowledge drastically improves. I’ve noticed that in the past I’ve compromised about the books I read. It now feels like in any given moment – I’m reading the exact book that I want to read the most in the whole world. This is a very empowering feeling, that I didn’t hear people talk about when discussing e-readers.

Getting the Kindle to work in Israel

I’ve received so many good recommendations about the Kindle, that I couldn’t resist it. When Tal told me he’ll be in NY, after some deliberation over the Sony eReader – I decided to go for it with Amazon’s Kindle 2.
Buying it was easy. Payed with my Israeli Visa, got it shipped to Tal’s place in NY, and a week later less $330 in the bank – I got to grab this weird piece of new technology. All in all – it certainly delivers. I already had a great time reading from it a couple of books at once, and even finishing some of them.
Eran told me that I can’t just buy Any book as a first one. So buying “Free” by Chris Anderson seemed like a fun way to start :). Little did I know.

To test the buying process, I first tried to “buy” a free classic by Oscar Wilde.

We are sorry...
 We could not process your order because of geographical restrictions on the product which you were attempting to purchase. Please refer to the terms of use for this product to determine the geographical restrictions.
 We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

What???
Ok. No problem. Probably a DRM thingy, I’ll just run a machine from the US (on Amazon’s servers :P) – and bypass this stupid IP filter.
Nope. Same result.
Tried to buy 5 other books. None of them agreed to get purchased. Even those that cost moer than $0.00.
A phone call to the customer support pointed me to item 12 in the FAQ:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200316870&#intl
They say that you shouldn’t buy a Kindle if you live outside the US…

Hmmmm…

At this point I practically had a brick in my hand. It can display its own user’s manual, and show book covers, but I have nothing to do with it…
Luckily I have some relatives with bank accounts in the US that agreed to help. So, an hour and a half later, and after 2 more phone-calls to support, and a refund for a book I mistakenly bought – I found out how I can pay for books. My relatives’ credit card had to be linked to the “Click Once” button. And I now buy myself gift cards from my Israeli credit card in order to pay for my books without charging my relatives.

Oh well.

Some experiences

1) Although it is “wireless”, Amazon chose to use Sprint’s cellular network instead of WiFi. So the Kindle is dumbed down in Israel. Nu shoin.
2) The reading experience is awesome. The print looks so good, that it feels like touching the future.
3) Now that I turned off the inactive wireless connection, it seems that I won’t need to charge it in the coming weeks 😛
4) The internal dictionary is very powerful. I can now read classics written in 200 years old English.
5) I want Headup on my Kindle. When I read about Seattle, I want its pictures. My business-connections to Microsoft, right where it is mentioned. And an interview with Jeff Bezos – right on the screen. Is it too much to ask for?
6) I also want to share a paragraph every now and then with a friend. This paragraph could be exactly what he needs, when he needs it, and having the ability to discuss it with him – right from my Kindle – could be soooo neat.
7) Amazon’s library contains about 350,000 titles for Kindle. So far, I’ve found there every book I wanted to read.
8) No more waiting for books! Hurray! No shipping, no delivery burdens, fun fun fun!!! The ability to think of “The Singularity is Near” – and start reading it less than 5 minutes later – is game changing.

A note about books vs. the web

For a reason I still can’t explain, reading books is a totally different experience from reading a text online. The concentration and focus are much deeper with a book. Your thoughts merge with the book instead if wondering “what else am I missing while I’m reading this paragraph”. I know you’re thinking about other things if and while you read these words 🙂
So, the ability to get access to great thinkers. And not a superficial access as you get on the net – but a focused and immersive access as you get from books or good movies – all of this instantly, within minutes – is the biggest benefit of this device.

Kudos to Amazon, and this very neat technology.

13 Responses to “Kindle 2, in Israel”

  • Idan:

    Very interesting! I’m thinking about the issue too in the last couple of months. The thing is, I would mostly need it for PDFs – reading articles in the train and such. For what I gather, as cool as the Kindle is – it’s not my solution, is it?

    Thanks and happy post-Hagim!

  • I didn’t try it yet…
    From what I’ve seen – if you want to read a PDF on your reader, you first have to send it through Amazon for encoding or something.
    The other e-Readers seem better at these things.

  • Leo Menis:

    For all those considering getting a kindle, this month Amazaon releases an international version that will support wireless access, and I guess will handle the US bank account issue.
    So pay attention when u make the purchase (it is slightly more expensive).

  • Eitan Burcat:

    Update: it recently started to read PDF files natively, without the need for conversion. Tried to read a couple of books like this and it works really well, including the graphics and everything.

  • Hi,
    (What’s up Leo?)
    I found this coverage map through Amazon (click my name):

    http://client0.cellmaps.com/tabs.html#cellmaps_intl_tab

    Which seems to indicate there is coverage in israel, however I don’t know if this counts only for the Amazon store or to the Wikipedia etc as well, did you figure it out?
    I’m in the U.S right now and considering getting one to bring home with me.

  • Dror Engel:

    works perfect in Israel! buy the international edition

  • Barbara Resnick:

    Dror, I am thinking of buying a Kindle 2. I see that you say that the international edition works perfectly in Israel. Do you have to download to your computer first or can you download straight to the Kindle? Any trouble buying books? Charging?

  • Nadav Amir:

    Yes you can download straight to the kindle but there is a ~3$ extra for “international delivery”. there is no problem charging (with an adapter).

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  • Aleksandr:

    If bought at the US and found out of order in Israel, how do you exchange it for a good Kindle?

  • I guess you should consult Amazon’s support? They’re very good…
    In the states, they sent me a replacement right away, when there was a problem with the shipment. So I guess that in the case of a defective Kindle it’d be the same – shouldn’t matter that you’re now in Israel(?).

  • rcved a kindle as birthday gift but all the big machers on my kibbutz where not able to connect me to wifi, my comp. skills are pathetic and please i need help. . . . . . . . .

  • הייתי מחפש ילד בן 12 עם חוש טכני 🙂
    לחילופין – מישהו דובר אנגלית, שידבר עם נציג אמאזון בנושא
    את גם יכולה לדבר איתי ביום שישי, אמור להיות לי לידי קינדל עם Wifi, אולי אני אוכל לעזור

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