Danny Guo | 郭亚东

A Tribute to Kindle

May 8, 2018  ·  589 words  ·  ~3 minutes to read

I’ve been thinking about just how many digital devices I own. Excluding accessories like my keyboard, the full list is:

Of all of these, I appreciate my Kindle the most. While my laptop and phone are indispensable, they also cause a fair amount of frustration and distraction on a daily basis. Concerns about our relationships with digital devices are common, whether they are mental (e.g. decreasing attention spans), emotional (e.g. increasing feelings of loneliness), or physical (e.g. neck problems). My Kindle, for the most part, doesn’t trigger these concerns. It simply improves the reading experience in almost every way.

Positives

Physical books take up space and are absurdly heavy. Every time I move, I get rid of a few more of them. My Kindle can hold thousands of books, yet it weighs less and is smaller than many paperback books.

My Kindle knows where I left off in each book. For physical books, bookmarks fall out easily, and folding corners feels destructive.

I can hold my Kindle and even turn pages with one hand, which is great for reading when I’m standing in a subway train.

The Paperwhite’s backlight means I can read anywhere and anytime. This alone is a killer feature over physical books.

Unlike smartphones and laptops, my Kindle never gives me battery anxiety. I can go weeks without charging it.

My Kindle doesn’t kill my attention span like my smartphone does. If anything, it helps me focus on long-form content rather than seek another dopamine hit on Twitter or Reddit.

I can check out books online from the New York Public Library’s e-book website.

I can look up word definitions.

I can see all my highlights online.

The E Ink screen is as easy to read as paper, even in bright sunlight.

It’s relatively cheap. The Paperwhite is frequently on sale for $99, and while I know Amazon wants me to buy Kindle books through its store, I get almost all my books from the library, so the content has been close to free for me.

The upgrade cycle is long. I’m still using the same Kindle I bought five years ago and feel no need to get a new one.

Negatives

I like the idea of having a bookshelf full of books that are meaningful to me, but buying a book just for display doesn’t seem like a good use of money.

Graphs and images don’t work so well sometimes.

This is a very minor issue, but I do wish my Kindle was waterproof. The second generation Kindle Oasis is waterproof though, and I hope Amazon eventually brings the feature to the Paperwhite as well.

UI interactions feel slow. I assume later Kindles have improved the speed with better hardware.

Highlighting is easy, but taking notes is so hard that I have to do it externally rather than on the Kindle. For me, that’s true for physical books as well, since I don’t like to write in books.

See Richard Stallman’s objections to e-books. I am sympathetic, but I still choose to use my Kindle everyday.

Conclusion

My Kindle does one thing, and it does it exceptionally well. It may not be perfect, but I don’t have a love-hate relationship with it. I wish I could say that about all my devices.


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