Friday, June 4, 2010

Why I love my Kindle

A few of my online friends aren't convinced that reading on a plastic device can be enjoyable. I admit that it is different from reading a dead tree book but not, in my opinion, in any negative way. On the contrary, there are many positive differences, and usually once people get to hold one and read on it for a few minutes they understand that. So, while trying to convince them that Kindles can enhance reading and not kill it, I came up with a little list. I may add to it over time.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

1. The Kindle has expanded my reading habits
For years, I read many of the same types of books: horror and  murder mystery, for example. Since owning a Kindle I have discovered so many authors that I'd never have dreamed of reading, and so many types of books. I have even read some romance novels, and a whole bunch of excellent self published authors that I just wouldn't have found on a store bookshelf.

2. Ease of getting a book
I live an hour from a decent sized bookshop so I used to stock up about once a month. This also meant I limited my reading to what I could get there and then, or within my favorite genres. It was difficult enough to spend 2 hours browsing shelves that I knew, let alone branch out to new areas. I had to predict what books I might want to read in a few weeks, what mood I might be in. Ultimately it meant selecting books that I was in the mood for on that particular shopping day.

Since having a Kindle, I don't need to do that. I can curl up in bed/ sit in the garden/ be on a bus and browse a bookshop in privacy. I can make instant decisions & be reading a new book in moments. I can download a dozen free samples, and decide what book strikes my mood as I sit awake at 3 a.m. with insomnia.

Since the Kindle uses 3G, not WiFi, it doesn't depend on a broadband internet connection: it works like a cell phone. Typically, if I can get a signal for my mobile phone then my Kindle will connect.

3. Text size and e-ink
Eyesight problems?  Increase the text size!  And with no bright screen to hurt your eyes, e-ink technology makes reading on a Kindle as easy as reading a book.

4. Reviews
Book buying on a Kindle gives you easy and instant access to book reviews. You see, if I am in the library or at the mall, who do I ask? Can I ask 100 people what they thought? Not without annoying everyone!  If I am unsure about spending $10 on a book, I can read reviews about it and decide whether or not it's my cup of tea, and then be reading it just a minute later.

5. New releases delivered overnight
Love this. I don't have to drive to the store or even wait for the mailman!  My pre-ordered book will be on my Kindle when I wake up!

6. Annotations & highlights
I didn't think I would use this but I have made hundreds of book notes. It's so simple to do, so why not?  When I've not understood a storyline or I am taking guesses on whodunnit, I've written little questions to myself that I can come back to later. I might highlight a particular brilliant passage or something funny to share with friends. I can then access those notes and highlights in My Clippings file on my Kindle, on my computer or even online. I can post them to forums or share them in emails.

7. Dictionary look-up (+ wiki)
Quite obviously reading can help to improve your vocabulary. Simply reading new words in context helps broaden your own vocab, of course; but what about those times you still don't understand a word? Do you get up out of bed to look it up? Write a note to yourself to do it later? Walk from the beach to the hotel to check it out? I hardly ever used to.
Now, I just click the word and at the bottom of the screen the definition is displayed. Need more information about a word?  Click enter to see a more complete definition, then click Back again to get back to your reading page. More info for dictionary

8. Text to Speech 
Not the loveliest reading voice in the world, but unless a publisher has blocked this feature on a book, your Kindle can read to you. I love this at the weekends, especially when I have a book that is a real page turner. The laundry still needs to be done, the kids need feeding and weeds need to be pulled. No problem at all. TTS lets the book read to me as I fold, cook and weed.

9. TTS for auto-turn and hands-free reading
Turn down the volume, turn on TTS and let the pages turn for you while you stroke the cat with one hand and drink wine with the other. You can even alter the speed of page turning.

10. Audio books
If you like regular audio books, you can download them from and listen to them on your kindle. In fact, you can also download any MP3 and listen while you read.

11. Pricing
I think most of us with a Kindle bought it for many of the other wonderful features. But over 95% of kindle editions are under 9.99, 20% are under $3 and at any given time there are hundreds of free books given away in author promos. That's not including the 20,000 free public domain books. 

12. Self publishing
Amazon allows authors to self publish. Now, that can mean there's a lot of drivel out there (that's where reviews come in handy). But there are also some great self-published authors and Kindle offers them up to us. In fact, some gets deals from it! Last year, Boyd Morrison was an unpublished author. He wrote 3 books and put them up for Kindle at $1 each. I bought them and loved them! Later that year he was in contract. His first hardcover is coming out soon: The Ark

13. Blogs and magazines
Get blogs and magazines delivered to your Kindle. I read 5 blogs on my Kindle, as well as Readers Digest ($1.25 per month) and TIME ($2.99 per month).

14. Privacy
Don't want anyone to see you read that slushy romance, controversial political book or "How to Save Your Marriage" self-help book? No problem! You can read in the dentist's waiting room and no-one will know what you are reading.

15. Carrying my library 
Wherever I go, I can have hundreds of books with me. That Complete Works of Rudyard Kipling with 500 pieces to it? Weighs just 10 ounces. Want to add all of Jane Austen's books and the Brontes' too? Throw it in. And Stephen King's 50 or so books with a few 5 pounders like The Stand?  Yep, get it all in my bag.  No need to haul out the bookcase & strap it to the roof of the car; I can get it all in my purse.

You see, the Kindle isn't just a hard plastic case, cold and unloving. It's a whole personalized and portable library. And it can look and feel however I want it. I can add a leather cover and it feels sumptuous and rich. I can add a modern gel skin or decal and make it colorful and trendy. I can make it mine, so it looks and feels how I want it to look and feel.  It is, without question, the best inanimate object that I own.

I've probably missed a few other benefits as well. If you have an e-book reader, what's your favorite thing about it?


  1. You've certainly given me food for thought. I happen to be resistant to ereaders since I can't imagine hugging an electronic device. :-)

  2. Hello. I just hopped over and thought that I would say hi. I just bought a kindle myself and my wife and I love it. Part of the reason that we bought it was because my crossover horror/Christian vampire novel was just published in February as an e-book. The first week that I had it I carried it everywhere!
    I don't want to give up my physical books either, but eventually things change. I still miss my vinyl albums, but eventually everything went cd, and then Itunes. When one realizes the convenience of carrying so many books around in one device, they'll get over it.
    Take care.

  3. Kah.... I hear you! But my Kindle is so much more than any single book could be. Imagine the love you have for all your favorites? Well it becomes that all rolled into one!

    James, horror Christian vampire... sounds curious! Will you be making a Kindle edition? Certainly wouldn't mind checking out a sample.

  4. one major problem with a kindle I've just discovered - if you drop it on a tile floor it dies forever.....After a week or so of dead trees I've ordered a new kindle!

  5. Awww that sucks! Did you have the extended warranty? I've dropped mine quite a lot but *LUCKILY* it survived.
    Hope your new one arrives soon!