• Admission contrasts with company's earlier comments
Bobbie Johnson, technology correspondent, writing in the guardian.co.uk, Friday 9 October 2009
Since announcing the worldwide launch of the Kindle on Wednesday, many users had questioned whether they would be forced to pay more for downloading books wirelessly to the £200 gadget.
The company had attempted to allay those fears by insisting that foreign users would not be paying extra for downloads - but it has now emerged that the internet retail giant will indeed be charging higher prices for consumers outside the United States.
When asked by the Guardian precisely how much downloads would cost, an Amazon.co.uk spokesman revealed that foreign customers - including those in Britain - would be paying $13.99 (£8.75) for new releases and bestsellers, instead of the American price of $9.99 (£6.25). That amounts to a 40% premium for the same title.
"International customers do pay a higher price for their books than US customers due to higher operating costs outside of the US," said the spokesman. "Additionally, VAT rates in the EU are higher on ebooks than on print books."
Those comments are in stark contrast to earlier statements by the company, in which it had said specifically that "there are no additional fees for international customers".
The shift is likely to raise questions over the future of the gadget - which goes on sale worldwide on October 19. Although prices are likely to drop when the company opens a Kindle store on its local websites, including Amazon.co.uk, the move has already angered consumer groups who suggested that the price hike was bad news for non-American users.