I was always on the sideline about getting a Kindle. The price of INR ~8000/- seemed steep when considering the fact that it is exclusively an ebook reading device.
In my anecdotal experience, the prices of the Kindle Editions typically seemed to hover around a third of the price of the printed versions for most books. I was planning to do my own version of the 50-book-a-year challenge but the cost and hassle of ordering a ton of paperbacks on amazon seemed daunting.
I finally decided to pull the trigger on the purchase while looking to buy a copy of "Figuring" by Maria Popova. I surmised getting the device for two reasons- The supposed affordability of the books and the convenience of getting books delivered directly to my possession without waiting for about a week for the parcel to arrive.
To my surprise, Kindle proved to be much more useful than I anticipated.
Things, the Kindle can do better than a Paperback
Built-in Dictionary and the absence of Distractions
Picture this situation, you are reading a book on your couch and suddenly you come across a word that you don't understand. You grab your phone, fire up Safari and google the word. You have managed to understand the word but then you fire up Reddit for a quick scroll and suddenly you realize, you have wasted about an hour scrolling mindlessly; when you could've productively spent reading a few chapters of the book. While the touch input of the Kindle combined with the e-ink technology leaves something to be desired for users who are accustomed to your iPhone. The ability to quickly highlight and look upon the dictionary makes for a very smooth reading experience without getting distracted by the black holes of distraction present on other devices like an iPad. I personally feel I am able to grasp the subject matter much more efficiently with this underrated feature.
Additionally, the Kindle looks up definitions off Wikipedia if the required information is absent from its built-in dictionary. It is a well thought out feature that rivals every form of analogue reading assistance.
The ability to take notes on the go
I still revert back to my analogue notebook and pen combination when I am seeking to make consciously make copious notes but Kindle has the ability to highlight segments of your book which are neatly kept neatly organised in a single place to reference back later. It also supports adding notes, but it is a feature I haven't used much due to the tedium of the slow touch screen.
It is a great way to highlight without ruining your pristine paperbacks with highlighter pens and dog ears.
It is a limited feature at this point and the only book I have encountered it on is "The Long Petal by the Sea" by Isabelle Allende. X-Ray is a unique Kindle feature that allows readers to learn more about a character, topic, event, place, or any other term by highlighting a phrase or a word on the page. This was a pleasantly delightful feature that makes reading Historical Fiction a breeze by making you more aware of the context surrounding a topic.
The Ability to Bookmark Unlimited Pages
It lets you get around the problem of fumbling for your post-it notes and dog-earing pages.
With this feature, you can quickly jump to the page you've been reading on your Kindle device and pick up just where you left off on your Kindle app and vice versa.
This comes especially handy when looking at illustrations and fine print text that fails to faithfully show up on a black and white e ink display.
Another benefit of the Kindle ecosystem is the fact that the aforementioned notes and highlights are saved to the cloud which seeking references from your notes on your computer a breeze and you do not need to keep fiddling around with a slow touch display to look up your notes.
Time left in book + Time Left in Chapter
The Kindle has the ability to show the time required to complete the book or the chapter based on your reading speed. This is a great crutch for someone seeking to complete a 50-a-year book challenge.
Some subjective advantages and Disadvantages
Light and Vanity Free Aesthetic
As opposed to most of my other tech gear, the Kindle has a very no-nonsense plasticky build quality than my iPhone. It would've been quite atrocious in the case of another tech product but it works wonders for the Kindle. It allows the user to nonchalantly handle devices like the Nokia phones of yore and is one of the few products that I never felt the need to protect with a protective case.
That being said, I am not a big fan of the smooth plastic back of the Kindle and I feel like a rubberized grippy texture on the back would've been much better for a surface that you keep holding for hours on end. This is however a minor gripe that could possibly be rectified with the help of a third-party skin.
No need to keep prying the books with fingers
One of my pet peeves about reading books is that I needed to constantly pry the pages open on the book while reading. This is not an issue with the kindle and one-handed use is not as tiring as reading on a paperback.
As a person with ADHD, the ability to "buy with 1-click" and start reading a book is something I would be grateful for.
No convenient way to buy on the device directly
As weird as it might sound for an e-reader created by amazon. There is no convenient way to buy books from the device itself which I surmise is due to the limitations of the small e-ink display.
Instead, I use the Amazon website on my iPhone to purchase the books and get them delivered to my other devices.
Not every book is compatible
This was quite a shocker for me as over time I have encountered many books that have a Kindle Edition but upon purchase, but they are not compatible with the Kindle device itself. This has caused a lot of frustrations over time and is a problem that Amazon can easily rectify by labelling the non-compatible books prominently while purchasing. However, I have managed to return my books and get refunds when they are not compatible. Use this link to know more about how to return your Kindle book https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=G937D322PWZ6L9BL
No ability to capture screenshots easily on the device and share them
This is a sorely missed feature that is half baked at best.
The Sync feature is Wonky
The Kindle seems very aggressive to turn off background processes and disconnect from the Wifi to save on power. This has led to quite a fair bit of frustration when I need it to sync up my library to show up the newest purchases I made on the Kindle store. This is only solved by pressing Sync repeatedly and sometimes restarting the device entirely to update the library. This needs some work.
My suspicion is that the devices with the cellular chip (i.e. the Paperwhite and Oasis) won't suffer from this issue as much as my Wifi model. This is however my hunch with no concrete evidence right now.
So should you get the Kindle (10th Gen)?
Despite its many limitations, it is still a very useful device for readers. Sure it doesn't seem to be the device with all the conveniences of a modern smartphone but it works wonderfully in its intended use case. I regret not buying one earlier, and I think if you have the ability to buy an iPhone, you should get a Kindle too.