Amazon released its first iteration of the Kindle e-Reader in November of 2007. As I’ve never been one to jump on the latest technology craze, the development was not even a blip on my radar (but if I had had some awareness of this new product, I surely would have been clutching my book-shaped pearls in response). It would be years before I acquired a Kindle of my own, and “acquired” is a nice way of putting it….
Luke is the technophile to my luddite and he was the happy recipient of a Kindle Paperwhite a few years into our marriage. I remained resistant to the lures of the Kindle sitting on Luke’s nightstand, but after Charleston was born, my reading life took a drastic turn. Now most of my reading was done holding a nursing baby, and at Luke’s suggestion I began borrowing his Kindle for much of my reading so that I didn’t have to struggle holding open a print book with one hand, or make do with reading on the Kindle app on my phone. Before long, my books had taken over Luke’s Kindle and Luke and I both had to acknowledge that “borrowing” had evolved into possession. The following Christmas, I thoughtfully 😉 gifted Luke with a Kindle of his own (one I promised not to steal) and claimed full ownership of his old one.
I have lost track of how many Kindle devices I’ve owned since: I have a terrible habit of dropping my Kindles, or leaving them behind, or simply using them to death. (To my credit, I only left my Kindle on the top of our van one time—since that day, no other Kindle of mine has died tragically at the side of Highway 183.) Kindle Reading has become such a crucial part of my reading life, it is a given that I will replace a missing or defunt device ASAP. I factor these replacements into my personal “fun money” budget, knowing that even at the rate of one (or at its worst three) new Kindles per year, its an expense I’m willing to pay.
So how did this paperbook purist evolve into a woman who does more than half of her reading on a digital device? I’m so glad you asked! Whether you, too, are a Kindle enthusiast or are still hesitant to trade your books for an e-reader, I’d love to share my reasons for loving my Kindle. This post may have you nodding in agreement, or quivering with outrage, or somewhere in between. Maybe you’re on the fence about switching over to an e-reader (or making better use of an e-reader you already own); if this is you, consider this your invitation to step over to the digital side!
For me, the greatest appeal of a Kindle is what drew me to the device in the first place: the convenience factor. Much of my reading is done while multitasking (on the treadmill or elliptical at the gym, holding kids or snuggling with them at night, eating), and it is easier to prop up my Kindle in front of me than try to wrestle with the pages of a book. I can use the Kindle’s Dark Mode to read in bed at night without worrying about light keeping the kids or Luke awake. And I can easily slip my Kindle into my purse to be pulled out at my reading convenience. I have multiple versions of the Bible on my device, so I use this at church as opposed to bringing my full Bible, or reading on the Bible app on my phone (which is susceptible to distractions).
Speaking of distractions: it’s true that I could read all of my books via the Kindle app on my phone, and I do this in a pinch, but I much prefer the reading experience of e-ink which is easier on my eyes and does not tempt me with other apps and notifications. It is for this reason that I would never trade in my Kindle Paperwhite for a Kindle Fire or other type of tablet.
The convenience of a Kindle extends beyond the reading experience to book access. I love that I can carry around multiple books at once, and that I can purchase far more books than my limited bookshelf space would allow. I can easily check out books through the Libby app without having to take a trip to the library, and if the library does not possess a book I want to read, I can purchase the book from the Kindle Store on my device itself. (Sometimes this is too easy; thankfully, Amazon is good about issuing reimbursements for accidental purchases, an accommodation I took advantage of more than once when the twins were younger and had too much fun on Mommy’s Kindle.)
I’m often surprised by the high cost of Kindle books compared with the paper and hardback options: they are almost always similarly priced, and sometimes the e-version costs more than a paper version! I can see how this could lead to a very expensive habit; without the limitation of physical bookshelf space, one could easily overbuy in the Kindle store. I avoid this by making heavy use of the library (I never buy a book that I can borrow) and—except on rare occasions, such as a time-sensitive buddy read or wanting to support an author by preordering a book—I wait for a title to go on sale before purchasing. I receive a couple of Kindle Deals emails and peruse these daily for titles already on my TBR; with this system, I avoid buying books I was not already interested in reading, and I have a stockpile of cheaply acquired books on my Kindle for when I’m ready to select my next read. This is especially great for vacations, when I don’t have WiFi access and borrowing from the library isn’t an option.
Through years of reading on a Kindle, I have learned to appreciate its features beyond its convenience and access to more books. I make heavy use of the Dictionary and Wikipedia accessibility as I read, looking up definitions and terms without having to turn to another book or device for my answers. This practice has expanded my vocabulary and drawn my attention to my misuse or mistaken interpretation of some words I’d assumed I knew! I also love how easy it is to take notes and highlight favorite quotes and passages, which is especially useful for library books, since I can keep the notes and highlights even when the book has been returned. On the topic of highlights: I know that the appearance of Popular Highlights is a point of contention for some Kindle readers, but I personally love seeing which passages have resonated with other readers. These highlighted sections are a helpful nudge to pay attention!
The Search feature is another one I use frequently, especially in books with numerous characters: I can easily do a Search of the character’s name to locate all references to that character. This occasionally results in an unwanted spoiler, but in general I find that Kindle reading prevents me from spoiling books for myself, as I am far less likely to turn to the final pages of an e-book than scan the concluding chapter of a print book to peak ahead at the ending (a horrible habit that Kindle and audiobooks are helping me break).
While I am clearly a big fan of Kindle reading, I will admit that it has its downsides. There is still nothing quite like turning the pages of a real book, and now that the kids are older and my rhythms are changing, I do find myself returning to print books more often because I simply love that reading experience. Another downside to Kindle reading is that it can be easy for books to blend together without a physical visual reminder of the book I’m reading. With Kindle reading, I miss out on a lot of beautiful covers, and I miss out on displaying to others what I am reading, which likely curtails quite a few potential bookish conversations. (I’m nosy about other people’s reading, too, so I experience the flip side of this when I see strangers reading on an e-reader in public.) One final downside is that it is difficult to share a Kindle book with other readers. Luke and I share a Kindle account, so sharing books within our household is a breeze. I know there are ways to share Kindle purchases with other Kindle readers, but it’s so much nicer and much more personal to press a physical copy into another reader’s hands.
For all of its drawbacks, I’m so thankful for my Kindle and the way it has opened up my reading life in ways both anticipated and unexpected. I am all too often quick to complain about modern technology and conveniences, but the Kindle is one device I’m happy to have in my life.
Alright readers, I’d like to hear from you: do you own a Kindle or other type of e-Reader? What are your reasons for reading digitally? If you are still opposed to digital reading, I’d also love to hear your perspective. What is keeping you from trading in your print books?