A Case for the Kindle (and How it Got Me into Reading)

My Kindle

I love this thing

I’d like to make a case for the Kindle – and not the kind you put around it.

In middle and high school, I begrudgingly read required materials, but rarely (if ever) read for pleasure. A bit over a year ago I decided that I wanted to start reading on my own time, so I bought a Kindle. In only a matter of weeks, I became an avid reader (by my standards, at least.)

Many people ask me how I like my Kindle, and I always tell them I love it. Whether I recommend it, however, depends on the person; some people love the feel of physical books and won’t want to give that up. I just wanted to share my experience with the Kindle and explain how it got me into reading. These “advantages” aren’t limited to the Kindle itself, so I may really be making “a case for the e-reader” – but the Kindle is the only one I’ve had experience with.

Without further ado, here is exactly why I love my Kindle:

Cheap books and different genres.

I check the Kindle Daily Deal every day, and every couple of weeks I see a book that has stellar reviews and looks interesting. At $1.99, it’s easy to justify purchases for decent books, so I have amassed a collection made up of Historical Fiction, Christian, WWII, Educational, Science FictionBiographies, Travelogues, Thrillers, and other novels. From Francis Chan’s powerful Crazy Love to D.J. Molles’ post-apocalyptic thriller The Remaining, I have read a variety of fantastic books. And many of the books I have had the pleasure of reading I never would have sought out and purchased if it weren’t for the Kindle Daily Deal.

Size and convenience.

I keep my Kindle in my backpack, and there are many places I decide to pull it out where I would not have thought to bring a book along. These few minutes of reading on the bus, between classes, or outside over lunch help me stay engaged in books I might otherwise not pick up at all during a busy week. Staying engaged increases the likelihood that I’ll pick up my Kindle instead of the remote once I get home.

Number of books.

As mentioned above, I like to read books of different genres – but sometimes I’ve read enough about Chernobyl for one day and want to pick up an easy novel or have a quiet time. I have about 80 books on my device (only half of which I have finished reading), so I always have something I am in the mood for.

It remembers.

I am inexcusably bad at using bookmarks in real books; I think I will remember where I am, and usually do – until I don’t pick up a book for over a week. Then I end up rereading quite a bit before I find my place. The Kindle remembers exactly where I am in each one of my books, no matter how long it has been since I last picked it up. This is a small, but critical feature, especially since I may be reading a few books at any given time.

Highlights and notes.

Books can be exciting, educational, thought-provoking, moving, or just plain funny. I wouldn’t normally spend the time or see the value in taking a highlighter to every third page of a physical book (unless it’s a textbook or a book I’m planning on discussing with others), but on the Kindle making a highlight is as simple as touching and dragging. You can then add a note to that particular passage about what you liked or thought about it; if you can’t keep it to yourself, you can tweet it or post it to Facebook. You can also view all of your notes and highlights for a book, which makes it easy to find that quote you really like and want to show someone.

Definitions.

It’s a small thing, but when I read physical books and come across a word I don’t know, I don’t take the time to look it up. Of course, I can infer its meaning from the context, but it’s probably not going to be clear enough for me to actually learn the word. With my Kindle, I touch a word and it gives me the definition! Then I click highlight, and when I view my notes for a book I can test myself to see if I remember the word.

Ubiquity.

In the event that I forget to take my Kindle somewhere, I can still read my books on the Kindle app on my Android phone, the Kindle Reader for PC, or the Cloud Reader on any computer handy. Reading progress is synchronized between devices, so no matter what device I use I know I will pick up where I left off.

Free rentals.

Because I have Amazon Prime (which students get free for six months, then half off), I can rent one book per month from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. Not all books are eligible for free rentals, but there is no shortage of great books that are. If you’re interested in Amazon Prime, here’s a referral link to a free 30-day trial (so one free book and a month of free two-day shipping).

It’s also worth noting you can rent library books for your Kindle. I am a Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library card holder, but I must confess I haven’t figured that one out yet. Amazon’s wider selection of books and plethora of reviews have managed to keep me in their ecosystem – and for $1.99 a pop, I’m not complaining.

Bonus reason: battery life.

I read almost daily and only have to charge my Kindle about once every four weeks when wifi is on half the time. I didn’t include this originally, because it’s not an advantage over a physical book. However, I realize that it may put some concerns to rest, because seeing a “low battery” indicator too often would make a huge difference in the experience. It’s also an excellent reason to buy an actual Kindle even if you already use your smartphone, iPad, or laptop to read Kindle books.

Conclusion

If you’re on the fence about purchasing a Kindle or haven’t fully understood the appeal, I hope this helps. If you’re thinking, “I already dog-ear pages, write in margins, use a dictionary/bookmark/highlighter, carry a book in my purse/backpack, and rent library books!” or “I want to build a library with bookshelves full of physical books” I can’t fault you for that. For me, though, these conveniences are what turned me into a reader.

For the record, I bought the small, wifi-only, $69 Kindle, which I am completely content with. If you want the newer, faster version with a built-in light for the screen, check out the Kindle Paperwhite. I’ve played with a friend’s and if I were purchasing a Kindle today I might spring for it. If you want a multipurpose device, all these advantages also apply on the Kindle Fire, which is a relatively cheap fully-featured tablet.

Have something else you love (or dislike) about e-readers? Got a question about my experience with the Kindle? Leave a comment below!

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6 Comments

  1. Totally get this, but I still like holding a book in my hand and physically underlining. Michael Kelley sent me a digital copy of his new book Boring to review, but I had to email and ask him for a hard copy. Just so much easier.

    I do like the ability to underline and share on social media thoughts directly from the book, though.

    Reply
    • Hey, there’s always room for late adopters! :)

      But really, I get that. Not that I identify with you, but I realize that different people have different priorities and styles to which they are accustomed – much like my perspective on the whole Android vs. iPhone thing.

      For me, anything that makes reading physical books require two hands (or even one) is often an inconvenience. If I’m reading my Kindle over breakfast, I love being able to tap the screen with a knuckle to turn the page.

      Sharing to social media is nice, but I don’t do it often. I find that my reasons for highlighting passages would require explanation or are context-dependent. At least I think they are, but maybe that’s not true. Perhaps I should consider sharing highlights more often…

      Reply
      • As a weird addendum, I just finished the book I mentioned earlier and was emailed by another pastor-author about reviewing his book for him that will be out in November. He sent me an eBook version. Poop. ;)

        Reply
        • Haha, well I bet it won’t be the last time, either! It does make sense though; it’s cheaper and more convenient for the author, and it probably means they can ask more people to review the book.

          Reply
  2. Kelly

     /  September 17, 2013

    Hi Michael. Your Dad must have given Julie this link, and she in turn shared it with me. I appreciate your thoughts regarding the Kindle. I have been tempted often to make this purchase but didn’t want to pay for something I wasn’t sure I would love. Then I purchased my first iPhone. One of my very first apps was Kindle. I then subscribed to some links that send daily e-mails listing free e-books for Kindle. I never realized how much I would LOVE the convenience of having so many books to read for all the reasons you listed above. Although I still don’t own the Kindle, I enjoy all the same benefits on my iPhone, minus the larger screen size. I also utilize our local library’s digital borrowing program to expand my selection. It’s a great option when you don’t want to purchase a book. Thanks for the Kindle endorsement. I now know I would love owning a Kindle. The battery life of a Kindle versus a smart phone will probably be my tipping point.

    Reply
    • Glad you like your iPhone and Kindle app! It really is a huge convenience. I have been extremely impressed with the battery life of my Kindle; I read nearly almost day for varying lengths of time, and I only charge it once every four or five weeks (and I rarely let it get below around 30%.) It is worth noting that I do not have 3G (internet from cell phone towers) and I tend to turn off wifi when I don’t use it. I thought about including battery life as a reason I love my Kindle, but I didn’t because it’s not exactly an “advantage” over a book. I do think it’s worth mentioning, though, so I’ve added it. Thanks for bringing that up!

      Glad you’re enjoying free books and finding good library books! Sometime I would like to figure out exactly how to do that… I just wasn’t impressed with the selection of the library here in Blacksburg last time I checked. Maybe I should get a membership at the Handley library next time I’m home.

      Reply

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