After loving 1,000 paper books, I bought a Kindle. Here’s why.

by Joe Fontenot in Just So You Know

Kindle paperwhite

I’ve put off Kindle for a while.  But I finally sat down and did some research.  And I was surprised at what I found.

So surprised, in fact, I converted.

Here’s what made me a fan of Kindle:

It’s cheaper.

I priced out everything in my Amazon Wishlist.  All paper vs. the cheaper of either paper or kindle.  The second option was 35% cheaper than the first.  And that was without Kindle Unlimited prices.  With Kindle Unlimited, it was about 60% cheaper.

Either way, Kindle is looking good.

Kindle Unlimited.

This sounded like a great plan.  $9.99/mo and you can download a bunch of books you’d have to otherwise pay for.

Except, when I actually went looking for Kindle Unlimited books, I found only about 25% of Kindle books qualify.  Meaning, my $9.99 a month wouldn’t apply for the vast majority of what I want to read.  (This, by the way, includes some of the bigger publishers whose books you won't find on Unlimited).

But that wasn’t a deal-breaker.  It was the next part that killed it for me.  After a little more digging, I learned that once you cancel your Unlimited subscription, you loose your books.  And! while you have your subscription, you can only have ten books at a time.

In short, Amazon’s giving you a public library for $9.99 a month.  My recommendation here: skip Unlimited.

Touch Screen.

The thing that stood out from my few and brief experiences with Kindle in the past was the touch screen.  Apple was my standard.  And this isn't Apple.

But if all you're doing is flipping pages, it's great.  In fact, you've got two options for this.  Tap on the corresponding side of the screen, or a quick swipe (anywhere) in the right direction.

That means, as my toddler spontaneously decides to climbing over me on the couch, I can  continue to read (which is, to my credit, already a learned skill--Kindle's just made it easier).  I can do everything easily with one hand, and that's an improvement over paper books.

Wifi or Wifi+data?

You've got four options when you buy.  Wifi or Wifi+data, and ads or no ads.  The last one only saves you $20.  And the ads aren't invasive at all.  When you turn your Kindle off, you'll see an ad on the screen.  That's all.

And the data option, on the other hand, will cost an extra $70.  The good part is that it's a flat fee, so you're not adding another monthly charge to your budget.

But why on earth do you need data in your Kindle?

The Kindle is designed to mainly sit there.  Like a book.  I played with its web browser long enough to learn to never do that again.  It's really slow, it's in black and white, and the touch screen is not nearly responsive enough for that kind of interaction.

The only other reason to get the data version would be to download books when I'm not at home.  But is that worth an extra $70?  Downloading books takes about a minute.  And they take hours to read.  What are the chances that I'm going to need to download a new book when I'm out and about?  If such an unlikely scenario did come up, I'd just use my iPhone.

Why another device--why not just use my phone or tablet?

I have the free Kindle app on my computer and my phone.  Which means, before I bought an actual Kindle, I already had access to all of my books.

For me, it comes down to two reasons: the screen and the battery.

By the screen I mean the viewing aspect.  For viewing, it's much better than my iPhone or computer.  That's because it has a flat matte finish (almost no glare), and it's front-lit.

Being front lit is what allows it you to read it anywhere from in the dark to on the beach.  From the bottom, 4 little LEDs shoot up across the screen.  But they do such a good job, that I didn't know where the LEDs were until I googled it.

The reason this is better than backlighting is that in backlighting the light comes out of the screen directly toward your eyes.  But on the Kindle it's indirect.  As a result, my eyes don't get tired like they do after looking at a computer screen, and I can read much longer on a Kindle.

And the battery last 8 weeks.  Not 8 hours.  That alone means I don't have to worry about it.  Reading my book is not going to drain everything else I'm dependent on my phone for.

Other features: X-Ray & Family Sharing.

There’s a feature called X-Ray.  Basically, it cross references characters or terms or places in your book with the internets.  But treating your kindle like a web browser is an awful experience.  Maybe X-Ray does more than this, and I just haven't found it.  If you use X-Ray and you like it, I'd love to hear what you think about it.

You can also share your entire library with one other person.  Normally, where you left off in one book syncs on all your devices (I can go from my Kindle to my iPhone without loosing my place).  But when I share on Family Sharing, nothing syncs.  That's good.

MY RECOMMENDATION.

I very much like the Kindle.  If you read a lot—at least several books a month—then getting a Kindle will probably be cheaper in the long run.  But even if it's not, I've found it to be no worse than a paperback, and in some ways better.

My recommendation?  Absolutely.

I bought the Kindle Paperwhite model.  Here it is on Amazon.


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