Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The pros and cons of owning a Kindle

To buy a Kindle or not buy a Kindle that's the question you probably not remotely asking yourself. But hell, I am bored and can find flip all to watch on Netflix  - so I though I'd list the pros and cons of owning a Kindle* for you (if anyone other than me actually reads this blog that is).


1. Taking your books on your travels
When packing my suitcase, I always try to keep one very important fact in mind - I am the numpty who has to lug the thing to the airport. Therefore the lighter it is, the better. Obviously, a Kindle (loaded with as many books as you want) takes up considerably less space - and more importantly, weight - than your average paperback.

2. Choice
With a Kindle, assuming you have a reasonable internet connection, you can buy pretty much whatever book your want whenever you want. On numerous occasions, a book I've bought on a whim has ended up being a favourite. Being a fan of instant gratification, there's no way I would have bought such a book had I had to wait for it to come into stock.

3. Samples.
You can download as many samples - excerpts of a book (usually the first chapter) - as you want free of charge. These days, to avoid adding yet another book to my already huge not finished pile, I always download a sample before buying. If I want keep to reading after I finish the sample, I buy the book; if I don't want to keep reading or don't finish the sample, I don't buy the book. OK, so most bookshops don't mind you browsing but they'd probably be less than impressed if you systematically read the first chapter of a book before deciding to buy it or not.

4. Organisation
For most people who actually have a life, this wouldn't remotely register as a bonus. But, I love the fact that I can organise my books several ways - ie. alphabetically, by author, and by genre. I don't as it happens; I just organise my books by the year I've read them. I just like the fact I could organise them in multiple ways should I want to.

5. Durability
A Kindle copes better with me being messy. Few print books remain pristine after I finished reading them - they end up with food splodges on them and, well, a bit tatty (I am anti dog ears though; I am not a total cavewoman). My Kindle, on the other hand, just needs a quick wipe with a slightly damp cloth and it's as good as new. Providing I don't take it for a swim or drop it from a height, it can also cope with my innate clumsiness.


1. Ethics
It really doesn't sit well with me that I can only buy my ebooks from Amazon because my Kindle won't recognise any other type of ebook - I'd much rather buy books from a company that doesn't have a reputation for not paying its taxes or, more importantly, treating its staff poorly. Obviously the solution would be to buy different e-reader that allows you to buy non-Amazon e-books, but my Kindle Paperweight is only 18 months old and cost me about £100 - so that's not really an option. My cop out, and it is a cop out, is to only buy ebooks from Amazon. I try, wherever possible, to buy print books from a shop or non-mega corporation websites such as Foyles.

2. You can't give books away
While you can remove a book from a Kindle, you can't remove it from your "cloud". So you have to forever own a book that you absolutely hated. You can apparently lend or borrow books but only for 14 days - which gives the recipient very little time to read the book. Plus, they are obligated to read it as soon as they receive it rather than when they have time/want to read it.

3. You can't borrow library books
I buy about two books a month, so I'd save myself a small fortune if I was able to borrow books from my local library. You can borrow books through the subscription service Amazon Prime - which I have yet to figure out how to use - but most of the books on there seem to be rubbish self-published tomes that I have no interest in reading. You can borrow library books using the OverDrive app on your phone/tablet but it seems a tad silly to fork out on a Kindle and then read ebooks using a different device.

4. Reading in a non-linear fashion doesn't work
Sometimes you'll reading be something and you'll come across a character that you're supposed to know - so you have to flip back to find the bit you missed where the character was introduced. With a print book, you literally just flip back the pages until you spot what you're looking for. With a Kindle, you have to bookmark the page you're on and then painstakingly turn back each individual page. Plus highlighting text is even less user friendly than it is in Word (ie. takes a lot of faffing about to highlight the section you actually want to highlight).

5. Less aesthetically and emotionally satisfying than a print book
Curling up with your Kindle doesn't quite provide the same emotional fix as curling up with a paperback (in the same way, for some music fans, that a song on Spotify doesn't sound quite the same way that it does on Vinyl). Plus these days, a lot of time and effort goes into designing artistic book covers - which is completely lost on the Kindle given that it's black and white.

* = Other e-book readers are obviously available but I've only ever had a Kindle, so can only read talk about that.

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