Amazon Kindle is an e-reader designed to read books on the go. For people, who have never come across an e-reader, it is a device slightly larger and wider than the cellphone, with the ability to display text and images as e-ink rather than the traditional LED displays that we use in our display screens. The e-ink technology makes sure our eyes are not strained with even longer hours of reading. Amazon Kindle is designed to be distraction-free and one can ‘only’ read books on them although a light form of a web browser and some social media facilities are available.
Ebooks have developed as safe, eco-friendly, and portable alternatives to the printed books. I think in the next few years, ebooks will be at par if not ahead of the traditional printed books because of their ease of access and cost-effectiveness. My experience with ebook reading started sometime in 2014 when I got my hands on an android tablet. I could put ebooks on it, in either pdf format or the more popular formats like epub or the amazon kindle format mobi. I read a lot of books on that android tablet but the problems were obvious:
- The display was not very good, and the eyes used to get strained once I read for long hours, especially at night in my bed.
- The battery life in the android tablet was not very good and the device needed to be charged 2–3 times a week.
- An android device comes with tons of applications and with the social media apps installed, the distractions were significant. Often I came across something in a book and immediately would open up the browser or YouTube to read/watch something about it.
With all that, and with the tablet almost dead after 5 years of continuous usage, I thought of purchasing a Kindle e-reader for a better reading experience. At first, the idea did not seem very impressive as there were restrictions compared to a traditional tablet device and I could not browse the internet on it. The colorful covers of the books were turned into plain black and white colors. Yet, when I read on the e-reader for the first time, on a display in a mall, I thought that I should give it a try.
So, in March 2019, I got my hands on the white-colored 8th generation Kindle reader (shown above), without the backlit display. Once I got it and put some books on it, the reading experience was really unexpected one. It did not feel like I am reading some electronic version of a book like I used to do on my android tablet. Rather it felt more like a paperback only. Within a few days, I transferred my entire ebook library onto the kindle only and started to read more frequently.
Now, a couple of years have passed since I am using this e-reader and I have convinced a lot of people around me to purchase their own e-readers too! So far, none of them is disappointed.
My entire ebook library of around 350 books is easily put on the 4GB storage space available in the kindle with space for many more!
Here are a few salient features I find quite unique in e-readers;
- Portability: I have a collection of around 300+ books for casual reading. I can’t imagine carrying even a quarter of those books with me as I have to travel a lot. With kindle, all of them can be taken wherever I go without worrying about any space.
- In-built dictionary: Sometimes the words are difficult to comprehend. The inbuilt dictionary comes in quite handy.
- Sync: I can sync all the bookmarks, notes, highlights across all my devices. Kindle has an android app too which syncs with my e-reader.
- Discounted books: On Amazon, the electronic version of books is often discounted. SO I don’t have to worry about spending a lot.
- Instant access: Once I purchase any book from the kindle store, it gets delivered instantly to my device to be read. It’s not the case for physical books.
- Books getting lost: No worries about books getting lost or misplaced. All the books sync with my amazon account and I have kept a backup on my PC and the cloud so that I don't have to worry about misplacing books.
- The Experience: Reading books on kindle is a very soothing experience. One can change the font type, the font size, and even the orientation of the screen while reading. While reading, it also keeps track of the reading speed and lets one know how much time is left in the chapter and the book. Moreover, I can read anywhere, while sitting on a plane, or on a train, or in a garden, I can just take my Kindle out without bothering about the weight to be carried. It fits easily inside a pocket.
- The battery: The battery in the Kindle lasts a month easily with moderate reading. I think it is also one of the chief factors why I love reading on the kindle. People have been using the earlier generations of Kindle even today, so it lasts quite a lot as compared to our cellphones or tablets.
There are two main variants of the kindle on sale nowadays apart from a few others. One is the 10th generation e-reader with inbuilt lights for night reading. Another is the Kindle paperwhite with a better resolution and inbuilt lights. I think even the basic one is sufficient for starters.
Kindle e-reader is restrictive in the terms of formats of ebooks it can support. For the books purchased from Amazon, the default mobi format is used. For people who download books from any other source, the most common format epub is available. Softwares like Calibre can be used to convert books from one format to another. The support for pdf documents in Kindle is limited and the experience is not very good as the pdf format doesn’t allow text reflow. Anyways Calibre can convert pdf documents to the native Kindle format but sometimes the formatting is not very good, hence pdf documents should be avoided to be read on the Kindle.
Overall, the Kindle is a great device for people who love reading books on the go. I don’t think the cellphone or tablet displays even come close to the experience of reading on the Kindle e-reader. The distraction-free, e-ink display is really a way forward as far as reading books is concerned and if we think in terms of being environment friendly, it’s right there as the number of trees fallen per year for book production reduces significantly with the growth in consumption of ebooks.