So the UK version of the Kindle Store launched today, right on schedule. It has nearly 400k titles which might make it the largest ebookstore in the UK (Europe, too, for that matter).
If you're wondering why I haven't covered the UK Kindle Store before, it's because I don't like regional restrictions when it comes to ebookstores like this. I think they are an invitation to piracy.
But something happened today that changed my mind: I came across this post on how the top 25 ebooks cost less in the UK store than they do in the US store. It piqued my curiosity. I don't know if you've been following ebook prices, but as a rule the USA has usually had the lowest price ebook. The price difference was big enough that a couple years ago US ebookstores were forced into blocking sales to anyone outside the US market. (It's more complicated than that, but I'll cover it another time.)
I've been doing a spot check of prices, and guess what? The prices were usually about the same in both stores. I'm sure you're scratching your head and wondering why that is important. I know something you don't: ebooks in the UK have a 17.5% tax built into the price (unlike the US where tax is assessed during the transaction). So if the US price is the same then we are in effect paying a 21% surcharge. The only reason I can see for the increase in price is that we are stuck with the Agency pricing.
Update: I can see over at Kindle Nation Daily that Steven is finding prices significantly higher in the US than in the UK. This is rather puzzling because I randomly checked about 30 titles and I found the sale prices to be about the same. I'm not seeing the same data as Steven, and I find that rather odd.