By Akriti Rana & Nimish Dubey
‘Paper or Digital?’ — this is a bookworm battle that is waged every time Amazon promotes a version of its Kindle e-book reader. On the one hand, you have those who insist that a book printed on paper is the only true book. On the other are those who say that electronic books are no longer the future, but the present thanks to the benefits they bring.
So, with Amazon bringing a new Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition to India this year, it was hardly surprising that both parties of the ‘paper vs digital’ lobbies hit the refresh button. The two Kindles come with improvements and new features, including the auto adjusting light on the Signature Edition, but their biggest challenge comes from their paper counterparts that are sold in friendly neighbourhood stores.
Well, we have been Kindle users for a while, and have also been using the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition for a few weeks. While this may sound like sacrilege to some, we do think that Amazon’s e-book reader is worthy of being on the bookworm menu. Of course, it does not quite give the “feel” and “smell” of paper and you cannot hear the rustle of a page turning, but it comes with its own benefits — many of which are VERY significant for anyone who loves reading. Truly loves it.
Here are seven of the best reasons why avid readers should consider getting themselves a Kindle:
1. The sheer convenience of carrying so many books in one tablet
For us, this is one of the biggest reasons to get a Kindle — the ability to carry hundreds, even thousands of books with you. Most Kindle books (unless they have a lot of illustrations and photographs) generally are 1 or 2 MB in size. Amazon’s Kindle e-book readers come with storage capacities starting at 8 GB, out of which about 6.2 GB is available to the user for storing books. That in itself will let you store a staggering 3,000 books. With a Kindle, you are never going to worry about which book to carry on a trip or about a book being too big to carry around and read. Everything fits into that 200 gram tablet. You literally can carry your entire book collection with you wherever you go. And if you run out of space on your Kindle, you can simply remove books from it. They will stay on the Amazon cloud (at no cost to you), and can be downloaded later at no additional cost whenever you wish.
2. Free samples from every book
This is a feature of the Kindle and Kindle books that not too many are aware of. In the case of almost any book available on the Kindle eBooks Store, you can download and read some pages of it, totally free of cost. So you can literally download a sample of a book before making up your mind to purchase it. These are not tiny samples either — you normally get anything from 15 to 20 pages and sometimes even more. Imagine being able to open a book at a bookstore and reading it for half an hour before deciding to buy it? This is a bit like that.
3. The visit-and-buy-at-any-time bookstore with thousands of titles
In our opinion, the Kindle eBooks Store is one of the best reasons for getting a Kindle. As its name indicates this is an online book store from where you can get ebooks for your Kindle. It is a massive book store with tens of thousands of titles, many of which you can even get for free. What’s more, it never shuts down. It does not matter where you are and what the time of the day is. As long as you have a Kindle and an Internet connection (whether 4G or Wi-Fi), you can go to this massive store, browse around, download free samples, and buy new books. You do not have to plan a visit, worry about getting parking, or even if you are likely to find the book you are looking for. Most titles these days are released simultaneously in both paper and digital format, so it is a fair chance that you will find the book you need.
What’s more, unlike normal bookstores, there is no chance of an ebook being “sold out”.
4. The reading experience
This will surprise some people, but reading on a Kindle actually has a lot of advantages over reading on paper. You will not get the touch and feel of paper, but on the other hand, you will still get a bright, clear e-ink display that is easy to read on. What’s more, unlike on paper books, you can actually change the size of fonts on a Kindle and even use its front-lit display to read at night. You do not have to worry about the letters ever being too small or the light not being good enough when you are using a Kindle. This makes the Kindle a particularly good device for those with vision problems too — you can actually read a bit even if you have left your spectacles behind. All you have to do is ensure that your Kindle has enough battery. Battery life incidentally is exceptional on the Kindle — even heavy readers can get through a week on a single charge.
5. The reading add-ons
Imagine you are reading a book and you come across a term or a concept you cannot understand. You try to know more about it online on your phone or your computer or maybe pull out your handy dictionary or encyclopaedia to find out more. Well, on a Kindle, you just have to highlight a word or a phrase to get its meaning and in many cases, even get a Wlkipedia article about it. It is all built into the Kindle itself and you do not have to use another source of information. You can also highlight passages, make notes and even share content on Facebook and Twitter, all of it right from your device. The touchscreen is not as sensitive as a smartphone so typing is not as seamless, but it is more than usable.
6. The read anywhere on any device option
You can read your Kindle books even if you have forgotten your Kindle at home or at some other place, thanks to the free Kindle app. All you have to do is download the app and log into it using your Amazon username and password (the same you use on your Kindle) and you can not only read all the books you have on your Kindle, but you can even pick up reading from where you left off on the Kindle. No, reading on AMOLED and LCD displays is not as good as reading on the more paper-like e-ink displays of the Kindle, but the convenience of being able to continue reading your book even if you forgot to bring your
Kindle along does make a huge difference.
7. Books that never fade or get lost
Unlike paper books, e-books are not subject to wear or tear. What's more, a book you purchase on the Kindle will always be available to you, unless it is withdrawn by the publisher for some reason. So a book bought from the Kindle Book Store is literally yours forever. Until the store closes down or your Kindle finally breaks down. Kindles incidentally have a longer life than most phones and computers — they generally last for anything from seven to eight years, and in many cases, well past a decade. Of course, as we pointed out earlier, you can always read your Kindle books on the Kindle app on your phone, tablet and computer as well, even if your e-book reader conks out. When you buy a new Kindle, all you need to do is sign into your account, and all your books will move right into it. There is also zero chance of you losing a book on your Kindle or a friend borrowing it and failing to return it!
And one more thing — the environment benefits
Environmental concern was initially used as one of the key reasons to push e-books. E-books did not need paper (which comes from trees), did not need packaging, did not need fuel for transportation, which gave them a generally smaller carbon footprint than their paper counterparts. Of course, a Kindle in itself consumes power and as it is a small computer, making a Kindle involves the use of a number of natural resources — far more than it takes to make a book. But given that a Kindle generally lasts five years or more, we would say that for heavy readers with an eco-conscience, the Kindle remains a more eco- friendly option. Occasional readers, though, would do well to stick to paper.