Review: Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle
I got a pretty damn awesome Valentine’s Day gift this year – none other than my very own Kindle!

I’ve always been kind of intrigued at the idea of an electronic reader – but I’ve held off on actually buying one because of the price and also because I’m an old-fashioned, book-lovin’ kind of gal that always prefers having a real-life hard copy of a book in her hands. However, the idea of having a light little electronic device that could hold thousands of books without breaking the seams of my bag or the muscles of my shoulders and back has always appealed to me. The funny thing, though, is when I first got my Kindle, I found myself automatically trying to flip pages on it like I do with a real life hard copy book, then realizing there are no pages to flip…

I received the amazing Kindle Paperwhite, an electronic reader that comes with built-in light, an 8-week battery life, built-in wifi and a touchscreen. The design is awesome – it’s really lovely and stylish and oh so easy to set up – just charge it up and it’s ready to go. The directions and settings are pretty easy to get a hang of and I love the gorgeous fuchsia leather cover that the BF also bought to go with my Kindle. (Like I said, best Valentine’s Day present ever!)

I’ve held off reviewing the Kindle up till now because I wanted the time to play around with it and get to know how to use it – and also test out the reading of various books on the device. Now that I’m more or less familiar with the Kindle, here’s a list of pros and cons of using an electronic reader:

Kindle Open

Pros:

  • It’s a gorgeous little thing – light, easy to carry around in a bag and oh so modern and stylish looking.
  • Its lightness means no more having to lug large heavy books around with me, slowly killing my shoulders inch by inch.
  • Also, it’s a lot easier lounging around on your bed, reading via Kindle than it is when you’re holding up a great thick book and having to switch hands or positions when muscles start aching after a while. Yes, this is my usual reading position.
  • Love the glossy images that appear the moment you flip your Kindle cover open – the quill and inkpot, alphabet blocks, typewriter keys, etc…
  • Also it’s great that you can download samples of books to try if you’re not sure if you’re ready to buy yet.
  • The battery lasts for a reasonably long time, meaning I can get through several books – and days- without having to recharge.
  • It’s got a wifi setting so you can easily order your books through the Kindle Amazon store.
  • Quite often, the books that are sold via Amazon on Kindle are a lot cheaper than their hard copy version in bookstores or even online so that means I was able to buy several books at once rather than having to wait and save and hoard my money in the hopes of buying just one book. Ace!
  • Also, when you purchase a book, it’s loaded straightaway to your Kindle. No having to wait months for an online book store to mail it to your doorstep!
  • You can buy as many books as you like and don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen when you move house in the future and find yourself carting a hundred boxes full of books up and down a flight of stairs.
  • Also, you don’t have to worry about shelving space for your books. Although I do love having bookshelves full of books…And you don’t have to worry about people walking into your house, checking out your books, asking to borrow some of your most precious favourites, and then walking out with said book and never being seen again. And finally, in a year’s time, you give up the ghost of hoping and pull out your wallet to buy a new copy of the book. And hide it away so no one can ever ask to borrow/steal it again.
  • One fantastic thing about the Kindle is that you can use the touch screen to pick out a word or phrase and look it up on the dictionary, translator or Kindle’s mini Wikipedia version.
  • You can also select a phrase or word and have it highlighted for future reference.
  • You can select various fonts and font sizes (though I prefer to stick to the customary size the books come in, it’s lovely and sharp and great for reading) and you can also select various lighting options. It’s great for wanting to read in bed with the lights off while your significant other is snoozing away next to you. Kindle lighting still hasn’t quite hit that point where reading a Kindle is exactly like reading a real life book but the new lighting has definitely done away without the annoying glare plus it’s a hundred times better than reading off the iPhone (the light on the iPhone reader always hurts my eyes something bad) and with the Kindle, I can flip my pretty pink cover up so that kind of blocks the light from hitting my poor partner in the face when he turns over in bed.
  • No more having to worry about books you love falling apart to bits because you can’t stop reading them over and over again until the pages fall out.
  • I’m the kind of person who always has something to munch while reading and certainly the Kindle is less susceptible to food stains on the page than hard copy books are. (I’m increasingly aware of how much I’m giving away about what kind of reader I am. The kind that lies around and munches constantly on food – eek, slob reader alert!)
  • However, I have not yet ascertained whether the Kindle will survive a fall in a tub full of bubble bath. I hope I will never have to find that out. If any one out there has seen fit to undertake this test, please let me know the results!

Cons:

  • Okay, I’m a Luddite – so no matter how fantastic a Kindle is, it still doesn’t come close to having a real-life, lovely, brand-new book with awesome cover and thick pages and that lovely new-book scent in your hot little hands.
  • It’s a lot harder to flip back and forth between pages and go to the favourite spots of a story on the Kindle. I’ve tried it. It’s just not the same.
  • For the same reason, having a Kindle doesn’t encourage going back and re-reading books the same way that having a hard copy does for me. So that makes me a little sad.
  • How am I going to get an author to autograph my Kindle? Not the same as autographing a real life hard copy book.
  • Cool book covers don’t get the same kind of enthusiastic reception when they’re on the Kindle.
  • Also, I’ve gone through a couple of fantasy books and the maps printed on the front are a little harder to pick out on the Kindle as compared to real life books.
  • There’s still quite a long list of books which I’d like to be able to buy but which don’t seem to be available on Kindle.
  • Also, the Kindle Amazon store isn’t that awesome. For one, it doesn’t make it easy for me to search for potential new books that I’d like. Unlike the Amazon online store, it doesn’t have cool options like suggestions of other books I might like based on the authors or stories I’ve already searched for. If I’m not sure what I feel like reading next, I usually have to turn on my laptop and do a search around on the online Amazon store, then search my Kindle for a specific author.
  • Plus the list of recommended authors or books on the Kindle Amazon store tend to suck. So I don’t go by their recommendations. It’s a shame because the real Amazon online store does so much of a better job offering recommendations and reviews and the like to their customers, why can’t they do the same for their Kindle customers instead of this crappy abbreviated version of the store on the Kindle?
  • The genres on the Kindle Amazon store are also pretty limited so it makes it hard to search for something I’d like via genre. Come on, Kindle, you’re isolating your willing-to-spend customer here…

A couple of things I’d love to see on a future Kindle:

  • A way to rent or borrow books – there are some books I’d like to read but am not sure if I’d actually want to buy it so I would probably go to my local library to borrow the hard copy. I think it would be great if Kindle could allow customers the option of buying a book or renting for a limited time at a cheaper price, the same way Apple TV and iTunes allows consumers to either rent or buy some movies.
  • Because the Kindle can of reminds me of an iPhone or iPad, I  find myself constantly reaching for the Internet browser while I’m on my Kindle, then realizing there is no Internet browser! If Amazon could find a way of hooking up the Kindle with a Firefox or something, or maybe even turn the Kindle into a mini iPad kind of thingy, that would be so, so, so awesome.
  • A way to discuss and review the books with other Kindle readers – I think that would be a great interactive tool!

Conclusion: All in all, I do love my Kindle and I would continue to use it all the time – having the Kindle, especially with the cheaper prices it offers on many books, makes it so much easier for me to buy books. I have to say, the price of books has always been one major factor stopping me from actually buying so many books – because I can’t afford to buy so many, I have to stop and think carefully about which books I do shell out cash on. But when the price of a book on a Kindle is similar to the price of a magazine (anywhere between $5 to $15), you’ll find me buying a book almost every week. Also, I think that when it comes to a book that I really love, I would still get a hard cover copy too because, yeah, the Kindle is totally awesome, but it’s still not the same as a real-life hard copy book. But for all other books? To the Kindle, they shall go.

Clearly, as you can tell from my list of cons, there are some kinks that Amazon could work on to make the Kindle experience a much better one for the customer. Hopefully, they’re out there listening and are working to resolve these issues or to come up with even better new versions of the Kindle with stuff on that I haven’t even considered yet myself.  I appreciate that electronic readers are still a fairly new market but if someone takes the bull by the horns and goes that extra mile to make the Kindle experience super-duper awesome, kind of the same way Apple just went out there and made the iPad so nifty cool, they would definitely open the doors to a new wave of faithful customers.

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