Why the Kindle is the Only Way I Read

I do love my gadgets. When I hear about some new piece of technology, I start Googling around to look at specs, reviews, and all that nerdy stuff. I eat it up. If that makes me a geek, then I’m a proud geek.

However, I’m pretty particular when it comes to spending my money. I don’t have a tablet (I honestly see no need for one). My phone is not the latest and greatest thing in the world. I don’t buy new computers almost ever.

One gadget I do have and cherish shamelessly is my Kindle (currently known as the "Kindle Keyboard Wi-Fi").

Some people feel like their tablet is better because it can do whatever a Kindle can do, but “better”. I completely disagree. Some preach to me (and no lie, they literally spend 10 minutes on their soapboxes) that classic paper books are the only proper way to read, and that Kindles are “stupid”.

Hey, everybody’s entitled to their opinions. I think tablets can be cool (sometimes). And I understand the appeal of a paper book, to an extent.

But I’ve been using my Kindle almost exclusively for reading for almost two years now. Within one year, I converted my wife into a solid Kindle user and lover. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and here’s why.

My arms don’t get tired holding the Kindle.

The first time this point was driven home to me was when I was walking through a Barnes and Noble - still a fun place to browse books - and saw The 4-Hour Body sitting on the bookshelf. I had owned the book for several months, and it’s an interesting read.

What I never realized was how massive this thing was. It’s a giant, hardcover beast at almost 600 pages of material. I’ve seen encyclopedias with less mass than this thing. I spent many nights lying in bed reading this book on my Kindle comfortably, with no thought at all to how long it was. I can’t imagine holding the paper book in my lap and trying to read it every night.

The same goes for tablets. I find tablets, in general, to be somewhat heavy (especially your iPads) and clunky. Even the light, 7-inch Android tablet that my wife has is a bit much for me. When I’m sitting around reading my Kindle, I can hold it with a couple fingers if I want to. The buttons to turn the pages are right next to my thumb, so I don’t have to tap or swipe.

In fact, I don’t have to change positions at all if I don’t want to. I can find the most comfortable position I want and just stay there.

It allows me to get lost in the content I’m reading, and focus less on the physical nature of what’s in my hands. I like that.

My eyes don’t get tired, either.

If I sit on my phone before I go to bed, my eyes get super tired and sore. Or, I have to go into the settings and drop down the brightness so that I can stare at it longer.

That’s fine, if you don’t mind the extra step. But I’m not looking for an extra step. If I spend money on a gadget so that I can read on it, I want to be able to flip it on and start reading, not fumble around with the settings every time. When I switch from my phone to my Kindle, my eyes relax and I get a lot more comfortable.

I can take notes quickly, highlight easily, and not worry about my handwriting.

Hey, you know what’s fun? Looking at my note-taking from high school and college. It’s incredibly sloppy (especially if I’ve been dozing off), sometimes you can’t tell what I was writing, and it takes away from the clean look of the book.

With my Kindle, I can click and highlight interesting quotes, send them to Evernote if I want, or just highlight and leave them, because I can click on a book and see all my highlights in one place. I can attach notes to them if I want to as well, and they are all hidden. I can bring them up on demand if I wish. That lets me take all the notes I want without messing up the book.

Keeping a separate notebook would be the “paper” way to do it, but I don’t want to sit around with an extra book and a pen, and my handwriting would still be an issue.

I can carry a ton of books.

This was the selling point to my wife. We’ve done a lot of traveling, and she loves to read. With her Kindle, she can load a couple books on and be set. Or if she’s at work, she doesn’t have to carry an extra “backup” book. She can just start the next one.

A Kindle can hold thousands of books. You can even back them up to your Amazon account (or on your computer with a program like Calibre), so you always have them, even if you run out of space.

It has other distinct advantages over paper books.

These are all my preferences, really. But this post is all my opinion, so...

  • Some books can be awkward to hold, depending on size and shape.
  • I hate having to hold pages open, which always affects how I sit or lie.
  • If I spill a few drops of water or cereal milk on a book, I wrinkle the pages and ruin it, but a few drops on my Kindle can be wiped off with a cloth.

I can read anything on it.

The beauty of today’s Web is that there is a ton of great content out there to read. But many of us are tired of sitting at the computer after a long day at work. Instead of subscribing to a bunch of magazines, I can get the same amount of feature content from Longform.org.

With Longform.org, I set up an account to send articles to my Kindle with one click. I subscribe to the site in my Google Reader, and every day I see article titles and short descriptions - if I see one that interests me, I click on it, and click “Send to Kindle”. The article is then formatted and sent straight to my Kindle for easy reading. I load up a bunch of these and then I can read them whenever I am looking for a little light reading - longer than a blog post, but shorter than a book.

Longform.org has really pumped up the value of my Kindle and its usefulness. Plus, you know, it’s free to use.

And speaking of free...

Free books.

Yeah, you can use the library, and that’s fine. But it’s an extra trip that I don’t always feel like making. Especially now that I am pushing myself to be more literary, I have free access to own a ton of classic pieces of literature through Amazon. All I have to do is go to their site and click to download it.

Right now, I’m reading The Brothers Karamazov. It was free. It’s like 800 pages, and I have it on my Kindle for nothing. I love that.

Do you use a Kindle? Do you like it? Do you prefer a tablet or paper books? Let’s hear it! State your case.

(And hey, now's the time to buy one if you haven't. The new ones are crazy slick and crazy cheap. Here's an affiliate link to buy a Kindle. If you don't want to use the affiliate link, just go to Amazon.com.)