So you're considering making the switch from paperbacks to a Kindle e-reader. But you love the smell and the ability to flip through physical pages on the good-old paperbacks.
This makes you wonder if its even worth buying a Kindle, right?
Well, you're at the right place. We interviewed dozens of Kindle owners whether buying one was worth their money. Then we pitted their arguments against the people who still swear by the physical books.
Sounds interesting? Let's get started.
Pros: Why should I buy a Kindle?
According to Kindle owners, here are the advantages of buying a Kindle.
1. Printed Books vs. e-books: Convenience and Portability
- Do you live in a small apartment or just don't have room for more physical books? Kindle can store thousands of e-books. This might sound obvious, but having a Kindle is a pretty efficient way of saving space.
- Being a bookworm, what would you do if you finish reading a paperback in the middle of the night? It's likely that you'd wait for a local bookstore to open the next morning, or wait for your book to ship if you order online. With Kindle, you can buy an e-book from Amazon and have it delivered instantly —even when you're away sipping a margarita by the beach.
- If you're the kind of person who reads multiple books simultaneously, you'd understand the burden of carrying multiple physical books. In contrast, even the basic Kindle is pretty light-weight (161g.) So you can easily carry thousands of e-books anywhere you like. This also makes the Kindle a perfect travel companion.
2. Check out Library Books Online With Ease
You might love visiting a library, but nothing beats the convenience of lending books from the library straight from your couch. Most libraries in the US let you check out e-books for free.
Unlike paperbacks or hardcovers, you can have ebooks from the library delivered automatically to your Kindle when a copy is available. And of course, there's no hassle of driving back to the library to return the books.
3. The E-Ink Display Cuts down Eye Strain and Saves Battery
Have you ever experienced fatigue or eye-strain when staring at your phone or laptop for a prolonged time? That's because typical LCD/LED screens emit blue light.
There are a lot of harmful effects of blue light emission on the human body. Check out some of them below.
In contrast, e-readers like Kindle pack-in a different kind of screen, called the e-ink display. The e-ink display, coupled with Kindle Paperwhite's high-resolution display (300 PPI), doesn't emit blue light and is easier on the eyes.
Thanks to e-ink, you can get up to 8 weeks of battery life on your Kindle, if you use it for 30 minutes every day.
The standard Kindle does NOT emit blue light and was more like reading a paper book.
— Director of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School
It's also worth noting that Kindle is glare-free. It means you can read pretty comfortably, even in pretty harsh sunny conditions.
Kindle Paperwhite and newer models come with a front-lit built-in LED, which lets you read books even in the dark.
Also, if you're eyesight isn't great, you can easily change font-size and make other layout changes to make text perfectly legible. Try doing that, paper book fans!
4. E-books are Often Cheaper Than Their Paperback Versions
Kindle versions of books are often cheaper than their physical counterparts. For instance, here's a statistic of the average pricing of the Top 10 Amazon Bestsellers.
It seems logical to price Kindle books lower than physical ones as there's no cost of printing and packaging involved. This was the case for quite a while, but things seem to be turning around now.
Publishers striped Amazon of its power to control ebook pricing, and Amazon has been aggressively selling paperbacks and hardbacks since then.
E-book prices are up and print prices are down. This is the reason why you might sometimes find the paperback selling for less than its Kindle version.
But note that ebook pricing can greatly vary according to the country, genre, and the publisher. In countries like India and China, it's very likely that ebook versions are a lot cheaper than the physical ones.
5. Powerful Features Enhance Your Reading Experience
The Kindle owing to its digital nature offers much more interactive reading experience than physical books.
For starters, you can quickly long tap on a word to look-up its meaning or search Wikipedia. It also saves these looked-up words as flashcards. You can use them to test your vocabulary later on.
Encountered a sentence in a different language? Well, you can instantly translate sentences.
Visually impaired users can use an audio adapter to listen to any e-book on supported Kindles.
You can highlight text, make notes, and bookmark pages. Amazon's WhisperSync technology syncs bookmarked location across all your devices. So, you can seamlessly resume reading on your smartphone where you left off on the Kindle.
You can see all your highlighted notes at one place, called "clippings." You can then export them as plain text. I do this often to export all the highlighted motivational quotes from every book I read.
Have you ever lost track of a character or a place while reading a many-character novel? If so, you perhaps know the pain of flipping back pages to track information about a particular character.
Enter Amazon X-Ray.
The X-Ray feature pulls up information for the character and shows the first occurrence of a character in the book. It also works for places, themes, and other ideas in the book.
6. Get Your Lent Books Back Automatically
If you really love your books, you'd be familiar with the several emotional stages while lending someone a book. And let's get something straight: There are people who don't return things they borrow.
With Kindle, you can lend e-books to another reader for up to 14 days. After this pre-set time, the book will be returned back to you automatically.
Perhaps yet another benefit is that the other party doesn't even need to have a Kindle e-reader. So you can borrow books from your friend who owns a Kindle, even if you don't have one yourself. You can simply download the free Kindle Reading app on your Android or iPhone and start reading.
7. Other Hidden benefits
The good things about the Kindle don't end here. Most Kindle users we spoke to reached consensus about the "hidden" benefits of a Kindle.
When reading books on a regular tablet or phone, it might be tempting to use it for things other than reading.
If you pride yourself on having a good sense of control, it's still pretty easy to get distracted with all the notifications coming in. With Kindle, you're focused on just one thing: Pure reading.
Most users also agree that getting a Kindle has actually increased the number of books they read.
Key Takeaway — Benefits of Kindle
- You can buy, carry and have thousands of ebooks delivered to you, instantly. It's an efficient way to save physical space and time.
- Check out books from library online without ever having to leave your house.
- The e-Ink display protects your eyes from the harmful blue-light, reducing strain and fatigue. You can even read books in the dark. This display also makes for great battery life — around 6-8 weeks on a single charge.
- E-books are often cheaper than print books, so you save money in the long run.
- Powerful software features like translation, listening to e-books, Amazon X-Ray, etc enhance your reading experience in a way print books cannot match.
- You are guaranteed to get your lent books back automatically, so you can live worry-free.
Cons: Disadvantages of Kindle
Like any other gadget, the Kindle has its own fair share of issues. Here are some downsides of the Kindle.
1. Mediocre Reading Experience on Graphics-heavy Books
Kindle is ideal for reading text-only books or books that aren't heavy on the graphics. But when it comes to reading books with lots of graphics (images, diagrams, etc), the reading experience can be subpar.
And since Kindle's e-ink display is black and white, you don't get to enjoy the pictures in colour. Also, you will not be able to differentiate between colours, so interpreting certain pie charts or graphs can be problematic sometimes.
While this won't be an issue with the majority of the books, such odd-formatting might deter you from reading comics or other graphics-heavy books.
2. Limited Availability of Books from Small Authors
As of March 2018, over six million titles are available on Amazon Kindle in the U.S alone. So if you're trying to find a well-known classic or non-fiction, chances are you'll find one.
But what about books from the not-so-mainstream authors? What about regular textbooks? Some of these books are simply not available in the e-books form.
Moreover, e-books right for publishers can be a bit confusing.
For instance, a publisher from one country cannot just start selling books in the other. Therefore, you may often find that books from small authors are available on the Kindle Store in one country, but not necessarily yours.
3. You Can't Resell Books After Reading
After reading, quite a few people prefer to either donate or resell the book for a fraction of its original price.
But can you resell Kindle books? Perhaps not.
This is because when you purchase a Kindle book, you purchase the license to read a book. You don't technically own the book, so you can't resell them either.
4. Paperbacks Have Their Own Emotional Value
There's no denying that there's a certain level of emotional value attached with regular books that is tough to beat.
Many people simply love the smell and feel of "real" paper. They love to flip around pages and explore various sections of the book. Also, there's a "magical" sentiment attached with handing down physical books from one generation down to the next.
It's a valid argument from the people who love paperback. When confronted about this, a lot of e-book converts said that while this seems a problem at first, it gradually goes away when you think about it practically.
Key Takeaway — Shortcomings of Kindle
- Kindle's black-and-white display isn't suitable for comics or other graphics-heavy books. The visuals can appear oddly-formatted, too.
- Small indie-authors may not have made their books available as an ebook.
- Unlike physical books, you can't donate or resell your book after reading.
- The emotional value of paperbacks (the "smell" and the "touch") is missing.
Is the Kindle E-reader Worth It? Should I Get One?
Most of Kindle's disadvantages are less practical and more emotional. Furthermore, the cons aren't Kindle-specific as such, but applies to e-readers in general. But after using an e-reader for ourselves for over three years, we are confident that the pros of Kindle easily outweigh its cons.
Also, having Kindle ebooks doesn't mean that you can't have print as well. In fact, Amazon has a Kindle Matchbook scheme, wherein users can buy digital copies at a discount for the print books that they've already bought from Amazon.
This seamlessly bridges the gap between physical books and e-books. It doesn't get any better, does it?
Okay, So What's the Best Time to Buy a Kindle E-reader?
So you're leaning towards buying one, but you want to make sure to save some money while buying a Kindle?
Starting at $79.99 and going all the way up to $289.99 — the Kindle certainly isn't cheap. If you want to avoid paying the full price, you need to know when exactly do Kindles go on sale.
We researched the entire line-up's pricing for the last year to find out.
Here's how Kindle Paperwhite's pricing varied throughout the last year.
We tracked the prices for other Kindle models, including the Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Oasis and Kindle Voyage. Based on our analysis, here's the best time to buy a Kindle and save money on one.
Amazon's Prime day sale (For Amazon Prime members only)
Around $20 off
Around $20 off
Around $20-30 off
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Key Takeaway — Buy a Kindle Already!
So should you get a Kindle? Well, depends, but mostly... yes.
If you're simply looking to read books and do very little online activity, buying a Kindle pays off in the long run — both financially and reading experience wise.
If you primarily read comics or other graphics-heavy book, you might want to stick with the paperback versions.
The emotional value of physical books might hold a few people back, but we urge you to try one for yourself. There's an increasing number of once-sceptics who are now happy Kindle-converts.
What's your stance on this whole Kindle e-books VS print books thing?