I’m one of those people who used to hope that the ‘stupid eBook’ craze would just go away…
I love how real paper books look. I love how they feel in my hands and I love that I can fall asleep reading them in the bath without electrocuting myself.
So why on earth would I spend money on something that gadgetises reading, my favourite pastime?
Surely it’s bad enough that we spend all day staring at a screens checking emails and writing text messages and doing work. Why ruin reading?
Let me explain…
I have never read so much (or enjoyed reading so much) as when I bought my Kindle.
That’s a pretty bold statement so let me back it up.
1. It reads like a ‘real’ book but fits in your pocket
I was worried that reading a Kindle would be like staring at a brightly lit computer screen. I do enough of that for work and frankly the idea of burning out my eyeballs when I was reading for fun didn’t appeal.
The moment you hold one of these in your hands that melts away because it’s EXACTLY like reading a book.
It uses something called ‘Paperwhite light’ technology. Don’t ask me how it works but it looks just like ink on a page – not like reading off a screen.
It’s also small and light.
The Kindle Paperwhite is the size of a very small paperback book and about 3 or 4 times thinner (and lighter). That means you can shove it in a large jacket pocket if you’re a man, or discreetly in a handbag if you’re a lady (or a man with a handbag).
Is that such a big deal?
Actually it is for me. I’ve never been able to fit a paperback book, however small, in a jacket pocket before. Now I can carry a Kindle in most of the jackets I own, or in the back pocket of my jeans, which means I have access to 1.5 million books at any one time online (you can store just over 1,000 books on the device itself).
That means you’ve always got enough reading material on you for lengthy commutes and when you go away on holiday you only ever need to bring ONE ‘book’ with you. No more squashing heavy books in-between your towel and sandals.
And that’s the next point…
You don’t fill your place up with clutter
I’ll always have real books on my bookcases. I love how they look and I think they add a bit of character to any room.
With that said I’m not keen to fill EVERY single square inch of our house with books. Sophie needs somewhere to put her shoes *please enter sound of Sophie giving me a deserved slap here* and frankly if we ever move house it’ll be a pain to have to move ‘more stuff’.
Of course I’ll still buy some hardbacks and photography books and I’m sure I’ll still get the odd paperback as a present. That’s great, this is about making the day-to-day reading easier.
Just as I’ve weaned myself off having stacks of CDs in boxes (and making my music collection digital) I feel that eBook readers have really solved a useful problem here.
It’s discreet, you can read whatever you like without feeling embarrassed
We shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed about what we’re reading.
‘50 Shades of Grey’ (and no, before you ask I haven’t read it!) was cleverly titled because it sounded quite innocent, ‘artsy’ even and the cover design was non descript.
When I saw every other woman on the train reading it I thought they were just pouring over a thoughtful philosophical tome about ethics or moral relativism.
They weren’t, they were reading about whips.
And why not?
Some of my friends are too embarrassed to read self-help books on the train because they don’t want people to know that they’re suffering from depression. A cover which reads ‘I HATE MY LIFE’ in an enormous pink font doesn’t help.
With an eBook reader no one knows…
You could be reading about fly fishing in Burundi and the person sitting opposite you wouldn’t have the slightest idea.
There are about 2,500 FREE books available in the Kindle store (and it’s growing)
There is a downside with the Kindle and that is that you have to buy it.
I mean when you buy a paper book, you have the book – you don’t need a gadget to read it.
Also it’s not cheap at just over £100 (more if you get a bells and whistles model) and you could buy several paperbacks for that.
In the Kindle Store there are now more than 2,500 free books.
A lot of these are popular classics. So for example Thomas Hardy and Oscar Wilde are well featured here.
There are also free books by new and upcoming authors who want to gain notoriety. This means you could easily keep yourself occupied for months, if not years reading free books.
(If you have a Kindle keep checking the free books area because sometimes books are listed for free for a limited time. There’s also a Kindle ‘Daily Deals’ email you can sign up to which makes a new book available each day for 99p – 70% off the original price).
You can get signed up to that here.
To put it another way if you download just 15 or 20 free books you’ve effectively already covered the cost of the device in savings.
You can read it at night without waking up the other half
My partner Sophie wakes up if a streetlight turns on 200 miles away.
She’s very sensitive to light and I used to feel really guilty about switching the bedside light on to read when I’m in bed.
The problem is I love reading just before I go to sleep because it helps me unwind and doze off.
An unexpected perk of the Kindle Paperwhite (and this feature is only on the Paperwhite version, not the other Kindles) is that you can read it in the dark.
Again I don’t know how the technology works here but you don’t even need to flick a button, it just works.
It’s as easy and comfortable to read as if you were in broad daylight. I can’t rave about this feature enough because it does something that a paper book could never do and somehow it doesn’t seem to give off much residual light.
It works on virtually any device (not just the Kindle)
If you’ve got an iPhone or an Android Smartphone or a tablet device such as an iPad – or even a PC or Mac you can read it on there.
Why would you want to do that?
I sometimes accidentally leave my Kindle at home or want to take my iPad out but not my Kindle.
There’s a free Kindle app which you can download on smartphones and tablet devices which lets you read your Kindle books on them.
It syncs as well. So if you were on page 62 on your Kindle, it’ll know that you’re on that page if you try to read the same book on your iPhone.
In case you’re wondering, you only ever pay for a book ONCE. When you buy a book it’s logged to your email address and stored in Amazon’s ‘cloud’.
That means you can download it on your smartphone, tablet and computer at no extra charge.
You can increase or decrease the size of the text so that it suits you (handy if you’re short sighted)
Short of grabbing a magnifying glass there’s no way to physically increase the size of the font or text on a paper book.
The Kindle lets you choose the text size and even the font in the settings tab.
(Just tap the ‘AA’ button and then select the size/font you’re after).
I know a few people who find this feature a real godsend because they can read books without straining their eyes or holding it too close to their face (or without putting on a pair of glasses if you’re Sophie’s mum!)
Some folk prefer reading books in a serif font and others in a sans serif. Serif fonts are fonts with a little tail detail on them like Times New Roman, Sans Serif fonts are much plainer – like Arial. Again this is something you can change and there are a few fonts to choose from.
There are a few other perks as well…
The Kindle is hypoallergenic.
This doesn’t mean much to me because I’m lucky enough *touch wood* not to be allergic to things, but if you’ve got sensitive skin this might be a perk.
You can highlight and make annotations
If there’s a particular sentence or paragraph that you like you can highlight and save it so that you can come back to it later. You can also make notes on sections – particularly handy if you’re reading something for work or study.
There’s an instant dictionary you can use to look up any tricky words
If there are any words you don’t know or recognise you can simply click on it and bring up a dictionary definition.
It’s environmentally friendly
If you’re buying a book digitally obviously that means trees aren’t being knocked down and turned into paper. In Britain we publish more books per head than anywhere in the world (something I think UK readers should be massively proud of). According to UNESCO approximately 2.2 million books are published a year worldwide – that’s a lot of trees.
It bookmarks the page for you
I have the worst memory in the world and have always had to resort to folding the page over on paper books or using a bookmark. You never have to do that with a Kindle because it remembers where you left off.
It remembers the page across several books. So if you’re reading 2 or 3 books on the go it’ll track where you are across all of them.
The battery lasts for 8 weeks (with normal usage)
Obviously you don’t have to recharge a paper book but with an 8 week (on average) battery life on the Kindle Paperwhite you can go away on holiday with it on a single charge.
You can borrow books for free if you’re on Amazon Prime
If you’re on Amazon Prime (the premium Amazon service which gives you one-day delivery on products) you get additional Kindle perk – you’re allowed to ‘borrow’ one book a month to read on your Kindle. There are some bestsellers on this list including the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games.
You can’t lose your books
The Kindle’s quite a sturdy little thing and Sophie likes that it doesn’t crumple and fray in her handbag like a normal book would (she’s got a Kindle as well). If you are going to keep it in a bag I would recommend getting a little cover to protect the screen from any sharp keys.
You can’t lose your books
You can’t lend a Kindle book to a friend who doesn’t give it back, or lose it in a fire, or have it stolen. Because the Kindle books are digital and stored in Amazon’s cloud you’ve got them for life.
If you lose or replace your kindle 5 years down the line all your books will still be available.
I unashamedly love this device and I’m bleating on about it because if you love reading like I do I think you could really benefit.
Yes, the initial upfront cost is quite steep but frankly the benefits: the size, the convenience, 2,500 free books, the night-time reading and the ability to change the size of the text on the page make this a must have for book lovers.