Saturday, 16 October 2010

How to acquire USA only books to your Kindle

The problem should be familiar to any non American trying to acquire media contents: a lot of the stuff you're after is only available to USA residents. Alternatively, what you're after is available to you where you live, but at a much higher price than the one it sells for Americans.
Lately, I have encountered a new manifestation of this problem with my Kindle ebook reader: although there are a lot of books I can buy at the Amazon Kindle bookstore as an Australian, there are ten times more books available to Americans. Sometimes, one of these books happens to be the one I am looking for. Other times, Amazon will sell a book to an American for a certain price but will ask for a lot more from international buyers; and on other times Americans can get certain books for free while the rest of us have to pay. I don't understand why that is the case, given that Internet book delivery costs the same wherever you are (sending an email to someone in the USA does not cost you less than sending it to someone in Mozambique); therefore, finding a way around this absurd state of things is essential to any sane member of society. Luckily, there is a way, and it's easy to use - even for those without any technical expertise.
It's called VPN, or Virtual Private Network, and companies like Hotspot Shield will offer you it for free (here, or here for the iPhone solution). What it does is create a secure "tunnel" through the Internet between you and Hotspot Shield's servers. Any website you access will think you're not accessing it from where you really are, but rather from where the Hotspot Shield's servers are; and in the case of Hotspot Shield, its servers are in the USA (when I tried it I was given a Chicago location).
As far as buying an Americans only Kindle book, the order of things is:
  1. Connect to Hotspot Shield (or any other VPN service you wish to use).
  2. Go to the Amazon website.
  3. Under "Manage Kindle", provide them with an American physical or postal address. Don't worry if you don't have one; with the Kindle, Amazon will never send you anything to that postal address anyway. Therefore, you can feel free to be creative: give them the address of the hotel you stayed in at your last visit.
  4. Buy your Kindle book.
  5. Download the book to your PC or your iPhone while still connected to the VPN. For that you will need to install the Kindle software on your PC (available for download at the Amazon website) or the Kindle app for the iPhone.
  6. From now on you're free: you can download the book to your Kindle, even though the Kindle is not connected through a VPN. I would suggest you use a wifi connection for this download, though, instead of a 3G one; it's only fair, since a 3G download outside the USA does cost Amazon more.
That's all there is to it. As far as I am aware, there is nothing illegal in performing this trick; there are plenty of websites out there that would sell you an American address, for a start, and they're legal. The simplicity and ease of this method only exposes the idiocy behind trying to divide and conquer us as far as media is concerned.
By the way, the same methodology can be used to easily circumvent Internet filters such as the one proposed by the Labor government in Australia. Again, this only goes to show how dumb the idea is in the first place.
Enjoy your reading.

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