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 Fiction, Biographies, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!