Japanese Kindle Books: Positives and Negatives of Linking accounts

The Kindle has launched in Japan finally, meaning Kindle Japanese books! And if that wasn’t great enough, the Paperwhite is being sold for a price cheaper than it’s sold for abroad, 7980 JPY, at about $20 cheaper than in the US!  I quickly show it in action in this Youtube video:

It’s suffered numerous delays leading up to release this past October, and even competition from Rakuten’s Kobo.  That is, if you can call the Rakuten Kobo competition.  The user experience is junk, the store is a hassle and the device in general feels like a cheap Chinese ripoff of the Kindle.

Back to the now Japanese-supported Kindle.  I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy being able to read One Piece and Murakami Haruki’s latest on a Kindle.  I also love the fact that the Kindle now has a Japanese to Japanese dictionary.  It lets me read Japanese novels and short stories without pulling out my iPhone on a crowded train to lookup words I don’t know. That is, if I can pull pull my hand out of my pockets on the morning trains here…

For users who already had a Kindle and books purchased via an Amazon US accounts, Amazon prompts you to link those accounts if your country of residence is set to Japan on your non-JP account. However, I have mixed feelings about it all after linking my two accounts together.

Positives:

  • Can import all your titles from your US account.
  • Can now finally read Japanese books and comics, legally.
  • 1-touch word lookup via included dictionary (requires advanced ability as it’s Japanese to Japanese)

Negatives

  • No gifting allowed on Amazon Japan.
  • You’re banned from both buying and gifting Kindle books on your Amazon US account (most birthday gifts I send people are Kindle books so I’m pissed).
  • Kindles before the Paperwhite and PC/Mac Kindle software cannot receive Japanese titles.
  • Titles and periodicals not available in the Amazon JP store are no longer available for purchase (e.g. Harvard Business Review).
  • Cannot unlink accounts.

I have no doubt that much of these restrictions were because of the publisher agreements and if you’re at all familiar with doing business in Japan, you know how stubbornly and behind-the-times Japanese companies operate.  But I would think, for revenue’s sake at least, that gifting would still be enabled.  For the lazy expats like myself who’ve relied on Kindle gifting for a solid two years, this really really sucks.
UPDATE: You can make a duplicate non-JP account reusing your main account’s same credentials to gift yourself books or others.  Still no HBR though 🙁

What, am I supposed to gift paper books now?  First world problem I suppose.

On the other hand, non-Japanese residents can buy Japanese books and manga digitally with a bit of trickery (post on that soon to come).
UPDATE: Check this post to find out more How to Download Japanese Books for Kindle