If you ever step foot into my bedroom (as unlikely as that may be), the first thing you’ll notice are the books. Suffice to say I have a lot of books. In fact, I have so many that my dusty shelves creak under the weight of dog-eared paperback novels and thick computer science textbooks. They’re awkwardly piled upon each other, and the overflow is piled up on my floor. I’ve long since given up on organizing them in any sort of coherent manner.
I like books – specifically paperback books. For the longest time, I’ve been adamant that I would never get an Amazon Kindle, or for that matter, any kind of e-reader. Old-school printed books, I’d insist, are the only way to appreciate the written word. Books never run out of power. Once I’ve finished with a book, I can share it with a friend or donate it to a thrift store, as books aren’t encased in a tight layer of DRM (Digital Rights Management).
And yet, earlier this month, I was sat by my front door, eagerly waiting for a courier to deliver my brand-new Kindle Paperwhite (UK). Like thousands of other people across the world, I was tempted by the steep reductions Amazon offered in its annual Prime Day sale.
It was an impulse buy, but one I’m not regretting. In just one week, I’ve been convinced that the Kindle is the future of reading. Maybe you, like me, had serious doubts about the nature of electronic books. But you should rid yourself of them immediately. The Amazon Kindle offers everything you love about books, but with a few added extras that justify the whole expense.
Using a Kindle Is a Delight
Forget the Kindle Store. Forget the sheer convenience of having thousands of books on a device no thicker than a pencil. Forget the robust, well-built hardware, which survives even the most careless of users. The main reason why you should buy a Kindle is because it’s awesome to actually use.
Front and center of the reading experience is the delightful E-Ink screen, which can conservatively be described as a masterpiece of engineering. It looks just like printed words on a sheet of paper. Unlike many computer and tablet screens, it is readable in the sun. The latest version of Amazon’s e-ink screens refreshes almost immediately, so there’s little to no lag. This was a problem in earlier models. The Kindle can run for weeks on end (the Kindle Oasis lasts for months), whilst slowly sipping electricity.
Moreover, unlike old-school, dead-tree books, you don’t have to worry about bent pages, or bookmarks falling out. You don’t have to worry about accidentally knocking them from your bedside table and losing your place.
You can also highlight and share passages, without the pang of guilt you feel when you deface an otherwise pristine book. You can also see passages other people have highlighted, which I’ve found brings my attention to passages I’d have otherwise skipped straight past.
This winning combination has resulted in me reading more books than I otherwise would. In the past week, I’ve devoured titles by Paul Carr and Daniel “Fake Steve Jobs” Lyons, and I’m halfway through an especially weighty O’Reilly title on big data. Previously, I’d read perhaps two books a month, maximum. Now, I can’t stop reading.
The Kindle Is Perfect For Night Owls
I’ve got a particular fondness for the Kindle Paperwhite. That’s because I spend a lot of time flying red-eyes from the U.S. to the UK, and vice-versa. Like most people, I can’t sleep on flights, especially when sat in the cramped and uncomfortable confines of coach class. During these flights, I’m quite conscious of the fact that the people near me are probably trying to get some rest. As a result, I’m reluctant to delve through my bag to find a book, or to switch on the reading light.
But the next time I head overseas, I won’t need to turn on an overhead light to read a book on my Kindle Paperwhite. It has four tiny LEDs buried underneath its black plastic bezel, which can be adjusted depending on the amount of illumination required. If I finish my book, or get bored of it and want to read another one, I can just switch to another one cached on its internal storage.
Even better, because these LEDs emit natural-looking white light and they aren’t shining directly into my face, I can read in bed without risking my Kindle affecting my sleep.
I Can Still Impulse Buy Books
One of my favorite things in the world is going into a book store – be it Waterstones in the UK, or Barnes and Noble in the United States – and exploring. I love wandering the aisles, finding books in the sale, and blurring the lines between “browsing” and “loitering”
Having a Kindle hasn’t stopped me from doing that. I’ve slowly built a collection of titles on my Kindle that I “totally intend to read one day“. I just haven’t had to head to the book store, or wait for an Amazon courier to drop them off.
The Kindle Store is where you download books. In my experience, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, but for this article we’ll focus on the positives.
For starters, it has more books than you could possibly hope to read in your lifetime – just shy of 5 million, which is insane. Titles are delivered in seconds, and if you pay extra for one of the 3G-enabled Kindles, you don’t even have to be connected to WiFi. You could be on a beach somewhere exotic, sipping a frosty pina colada, and you would still get your books delivered to your device.
Then there are the deals. Every day, Amazon sells a range of top-tier novels and non-fiction books at knockdown prices. Some are pretty hard to resist.
Some cost just $2. Others cost a tiny bit more, but are still well below the market price of the book itself.
Goodreads Makes Your Kindle Social
In 2013, Amazon acquired the book-based social network, Goodreads, for an undisclosed sum. While this was initially quite controversial within the Goodreads community, Amazon has largely had a hands-off approach to running the site. The only thing that has changed is that Amazon is slowly integrating support for it into its Kindles, and the Goodreads app is certainly one of the must-have mobile apps for book lovers.
Provided you buy your Kindle in the U.S., Canada, Australia, or the UK, you can now see what your friends are reading, and rate the books you’ve just read without ever having to leave your device. You can even share passages you think are interesting, or meaningful, and see recommendations based on stuff you’ve previously rated or purchased.
This is a huge plus for me, as Goodreads has always seemed to be more hassle than it’s worth. If I wanted to share a snippet from a book, I’d just take a picture on my phone and post it to Twitter. But now I can easily contribute to this 40 million-strong community of bibliophiles.
There are also plenty of apps and sites that can supercharge your Kindle experience.
Just Buy a Kindle Already
The Kindle isn’t perfect, but I personally feel the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. And for the majority of people, the Kindle is the ideal way to read books in this day and age.
Reading books on the Kindle Paperwhite is an absolute delight, and its low physical footprint, long battery life, and large storage capacity make it among the most convenient ways to enjoy the written word.
So, what are you waiting for, just buy one already. I did, and I’m so glad I did.
Are you a Kindle convert? Or do you remain a skeptic, determined to keep reading real books until they prize them from your vice-like grip? Please let us know your thoughts about the Kindle in the comments below!