Amazon will finally be offering the Kindle for sale in Trinidad and Tobago from October 19th. It will be sold for US$279 which is about TT$1,775. I am not sure if local customs will classify the Kindle the same as a laptop or computer and charge no taxes or if it will be considered a high-end luxury device and add between 45 to 55 % tax. If this luxury tax is added it will keep the Kindle, a reading device, out of the reach of anyone who aspires to be a book collector on a budget but especially those who are already saving for the new property taxes and migration fees.
If you don’t know what a Kindle is by now you are probably not passionate about books and have decided to close your mind to new ideas like ebooks and aluminum smelters emitting toxic dust. Kindle is a device and software platform launched by Amazon in November 2007 for reading digital media such as ebooks. The Kindle has been a great success since that time and like the Wii, people had to wait in line to get one. For details on the features of International Kindle, click here and here.
The main argument against the Kindle is that it is not paper and cuddly and I also thought so until I picked up a 6-inch Kindle and enjoyed reading on it. Still, I don’t think it will replace paper in a hurry despite the fact the world has grown fond of cuddling up with battery powered devices of various sizes for years. The Kindle being offered to international markets will hold about 1,500 books and the rest can be archived by Amazon. People with the International Kindle in Trinidad and Tobago will be able to buy Kindle books and download them wirelessly and tirelessly with just a click or two. It appears that Amazon will be using the local GSM/GPRS networks from Bmobile and/or Digicel. Amazon said there will be no charge for using the network in Trinidad and Tobago – you only have to pay for the book.
Typically, ebooks are cheaper than paper books, and for example, Cafe au Lait by Liane Spicer sells for US$6.99 in paperback but for US$4.79 in Kindle format. That is about a 30% saving, not including the cost to ship the book to Trinidad via a Caribbean Express box. The Kindle is tempting because of the lower book prices and it is tree-friendly. What the Kindle will also do for the book world is reduce the incidents of book borrowing and recovery through threats and violence. The Kindle is a black and white, or more correctly, a few shades of gray device, which would rule out certain types of porn. Still, I am for the Kindle even if it threatens property tax as the main reason for poverty.
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