40 Reasons Not to Buy a Kindle

Recently, we published a post covering 50 reasons to buy a Kindle. Now, here are 40 reasons not to buy a Kindle!

Update: The biggest reason not to buy a Kindle might be that a new Kindle (and a few new Kindle Fire Tablets) might get announced on September 6th, 2012. Please do keep that in mind.

#1 A book is a book is a book – For some people, physical books mean much more than the content in them. These people become very attached to the touch, the smell, the feel, the look and the physical vessel of the book. An eBook can never replace physical books for these people since there is no nostalgia or history associated with eBooks for them. If you are 100% sure the physical book is something you’re going to miss terribly then you should not buy a Kindle.

#2 The bookshop experience – Visiting a neighboring bookshop, going through the vast collection of books for hours together, sipping coffee and reading a bit of many books is a great experience. That can never be replaced by an eReader. Note: B&N tries to replicate that by offering 1 hour ebook browsing in their bookstores. However, it’s not really the same as physically touching the books and going through the shelves.

#3 Limited collection of books – Not all books are available as eBooks for the Kindle.

#4 Careful handling – You drop a book and it won’t break. In fact, a book invites you to toss it around and treat it with abandon. There is no such guarantee with an eReader like the Kindle. It needs to be handled carefully. Plus it isn’t safe around children.

#5 Single vendor lock-in – You can’t buy an eBook in the Barnes & Noble store and hope to read it in the Kindle. Well, at least for now. The amount of lock-in varies across eReaders – but it exists.

#6 No ePub support – ePub is an open standard for eBooks but Kindle doesn’t support it directly.

#7 No SD slot – An SD slot was available in the very first edition of Kindle. But Amazon removed it from the subsequent models. C’mon Amazon, it’s our eReader and we want to be able to add storage to it.

#8 Battery that has to be charged – Though the Kindle has a long battery life, one still needs to recharge it frequently. One more device to charge.

#9 Kindle app – The Kindle app is available for the iPad, iPhone, Android tablets/phones and virtually every other device out there. We can even download books from Amazon to our laptop and read them in a browser. Why buy a Kindle, when you can get the ebooks on pretty much every device you already own?

#10 International usage is not optimal – We can take the Kindle to any country, but there are things to be mindful of. Whispernet is free within US, but roaming charges apply in some countries.

#11 Proprietary eBook format – Amazon eBooks use a proprietary format (AZW) and Amazon has not released a reading app for certain devices.

#12 Sponsored screen-savers/offers – Some people may not like to look at ads on their eReader! This was the only device that was free of ads, but now some of the Kindle models come with it.

#13 Quality of eBooks – Since Amazon allows individual authors to upload books directly, the quality of the books may not always be up to the mark. Traditional publishers have qualified editors and generally proof-read the draft multiple times before publishing a book. Even Publisher published books often have mistakes in the ebook versions.

#14 Remote deletion – Amazon can remotely delete a book you have purchased in your Kindle. It happened with a book called 1984 (George Orwell) as the publisher did not have the rights to publish the book. So, although unlikely, it might happen that you buy a book that was uploaded illegally, and then you’d lose that book. Amazon would refund you but you’d lose your notes.

#15 Slow and Awkward Page Turns – Page turns are slow (they seem slow) and every 5th/6th page turn there is a strange black screen flash (to clear up the screen).

#16 Extremely limited browsing – There is an experimental browser available, but with limited web-browsing capabilities. The eInk Kindles’ browser is like taking a trip back to 1991.

#17 Insufficiently Small size – You can’t carry the Kindle in your trouser pocket/shirt pocket without looking like a clown. Is that a Kindle in your pocket or did your pants grow a tumor?

#18 Does not Age well – With time, finger prints/dust/scratches on the screen may affect the reading experience. If you crack the screen or scratch the casing it stays forever.

#19 You might not find the perfect font – Though the font-size and font-type can be adjusted for eBooks, it’s difficult with some books and newspapers and magazines to find the perfect font size and type. Also, the number of font types offered are very limited.

#20 Black & White – Except the Kindle Fire, all the Kindle models can reproduce only black, white and shades of gray. It’s difficult to read colorful magazines and illustrated children’s books on the Kindle. Ditto for science textbooks and college textbooks that involve lots of photos.

#21 Blog Subscriptions – Kindle users may need to pay to read some blogs and online magazines, even though these are free to read over the PC. This is due to wireless charges. However, it doesn’t make sense for people who have WiFi Kindles or those who downloads blogs via WiFi.

#22 Few textbook options – Only a few textbook publishers have released their textbooks as eBooks. The chances of you being able to get all your required textbooks for the semester in Kindle format are slim to none unless you’re an English major.

#23 Absence of Color E-Ink – The technology is available, but it’s not been brought to the Kindle yet. Cost of color E-Ink is another issue. eInk Technology evolves as fast as a Glacier. Perhaps that’s why Amazon chose to name its latest Cloud SErvice offering Glacier – In honor of the rapid (in geological time frames) evolution of eInk technology.

#24 Limited device support – You can transfer your eBook from a Kindle to any other Kindle supported device, but there is a limitation to how many devices (registered to your account) can hold the same book. This is decided by the publisher and a maximum of six devices are allowed, at most. Note: This is in honor of those people who complain that with a book they could share it infinite times but with a Kindle at most 6 people at one time can read it and you can’t share unless you give people your Kindle.

#25 Navigation and Missing Page Numbers – It’s difficult to flip to a particular page quickly, especially if you don’t know the page number. Amazon decided it’s going to punish people asking for page numbers – It’s adding them into books, but the page numbers don’t show unless you press the Menu button. That’s what happens when you force developers to add features they don’t want to add.

#26 Large screen Kindle is Expensive – The Kindle DX is the only model that has a large screen (9.7”, diagonal), but it’s priced quite high. Additionally, there isn’t anything matching an A4 or Letter size sheet of paper.

#27 Limitations due to Price and it being an Electronic Device – Kindle is much more expensive than a book plus it’s an electronic device. That limits what situations you would use it in. You have to be very careful around water. Reading it in the tub or on the beach is a big risk (even with a protective case).

#28 Only for reading books – Unlike a tablet (which is an all-purpose device), the Kindle can be used only for reading books & magazines (except the Kindle Fire). Notice how people who don’t read much keep complaining about ‘what if I want to do more than just read?’.

#29 Notes, bookmarks – It is possible to take notes and have bookmarks in eBooks, but they are difficult and take more time (when compared to a physical book). Also they are a royal pain to look up – they aren’t just there like they would be in a physical book.

#30 Keyboard – Not all Kindle models have a keyboard. So, text input may take a longer time with these models. In fact, the $79 Kindle WiFi which neither has a keyboard nor a touchscreen is absolutely terrible for adding notes.

#31 Can’t read in the dark – You can’t read from the Kindle on your bed with all the lights switched off. There is an accessory called ‘glowlight’ which you can attach, but it comes at an additional cost and some inconvenience. Note: Books suffer from this drawback too, but please don’t remind the Pureness of Physical Books people of this – they will stop inviting you to their Jane Austen Tea Parties.

#32 Multiple versions – If you want the same book as a digital version and as a hard-copy, you need to buy it twice. This is one of the strangest things.

#33 Lack of modularity – Kindle is not a modular device. You can’t add 3G or Wi-Fi later on, if you want to. This is something most electronic devices suffer from these days – It’s planned obsolescence masquerading as ‘trying to cut prices’ and ‘trying to make devices thin’.

#34 Text-to-speech/X-Ray only available on some Kindles – These features are available only for the touch-screen based Kindle models. So if you buy a Kindle Fire or a Kindle WiFi you are out of luck.

#35 Page turn buttons – Except the Kindle models with a keyboard, other models don’t have physical page turn buttons. This is a royal pain if you read a lot and would rather not exercise your wrists and fingers every time you read.

#36 International users have less range, have to pay more – People can buy eBooks for their Kindle from anywhere, but international users need to pay an additional credit card currency conversion charge, in order to pay in US Dollars. Amazon doesn’t accept payments from Paypal. The selection of books is also limited and international users often miss out on free book offers and deals.

#37 Awkward Folders/Organizing – It is difficult to organize eBooks into folders and edit/delete them in bulk, using the interface provided on the Kindle. This is another example of what happens when you force developers to make features they don’t want to make. Kindle Fire doesn’t have folders at all. Pretty sure there’s some inside Amazon joke about ‘making people wait for Folders’ and ‘users having to search through 3,657 books to find that Science Fiction book they wanted to read’.

#38 Cookbooks don’t look as good and Kindles are risky in the Kitchen – You would want to read from your cookbook in the kitchen. But would you feel safe to use a Kindle in the kitchen? What about the missing high quality pictures? Your Tiramisu Cake looks like the Gobi Desert (on the Kindle that is, let’s hope the outcome is better in the kitchen).

#39 You don’t own the book – Well, if you own the book, you should be able to sell it (in a second-hand bookshop) or donate it, right? Can you do it with eBooks? You’re buying a license. Which is amusing and sad given that you’re paying the same (or sometimes more) to get a license.

#40 Kindle Fire – Kindle Fire is neither an eReader, nor a full-fledged tablet. So the twin questions are – Should you get a Tablet that is aimed at reading (somewhat) instead of a Kindle? Should it be the Kindle Fire or the Nook Tablet? Kindle Fire confuses things.

As you can see from the list above, there are quite a few things to ponder before you buy a Kindle.

6 thoughts on “40 Reasons Not to Buy a Kindle”

  1. #27 – yes, please don’t do dishes and read your Kindle at the same time! Not that I would know how tragic that can be….

  2. I looked at buying a Kindle Fire, but well, I had the PC apps for Kindle, Nook & Sony on my PC and wanted something that I could use them all with. I ended up buying a 16 GB tablet, and can expand it with another 32 GB if I feel the need, another bonus, I have put a few games(and am not just limited to the ones Amazon offers) on it and it works wonderfully for entertaining my 5 year old when we’re sitting at the clinic or in the car.

  3. Much like the post on why to buy a Kindle, this one is even more of a stretch… For people that MUST have the feel of paper! Is this REALLY worth mentioning?

    When it comes to the decision to do eReaders vs. books, it really comes down to what you are willing to pay and what you are willing to give up.

    An eBook with Digital Rights Management (DRM – everything you buy in the Kindle store) you most certainly do not ‘own’ in any sense of the word. We can have a large nonsensical discussion on this point (own, vs. license, etc). What matters is with Amazon Kindle Books, your Amazon account is what ‘owns’ the books. If you die, so do the books. Your ability to share said books is also limited via the publisher set DRM. If you and other members of your household wish to maintain separate Amazon accounts, each with a Kindle, you MAY NOT be able to share said books. You MAY NOT be able to share books with your friends. You MAY NEVER resell an eBook. These are all things I can ALWAYS do in a few seconds with paper books, and with great difficulty or not at all with Kindle books. This means at the same price, I am getting LESS of a value from a Kindle eBook than the paper counterpart, while at the same time saving the publisher MANY dollars in the printing and distribution costs. Note that these restrictions vary per book and publisher, which means my purchasing decision is complex and difficult. I have no faith that if the publisher modifies these terms later that I still retain the permissions that existed when I ‘licensed’ the eBook.

    Yet, publishers have the nerve to set their eBook prices HIGHER than what I can buy the Kindle edition (with less ‘rights’) for. Other possible values that you COULD EASILY get from eBooks, you are not guaranteed – automatic updates (or discounts) to newer printings (sometimes this is true) or newer editions (this has never been true).

    The true pluses of eBooks are the built-in dictionary/Wikipedia feature, the availability to use Large Type for the visually impaired, and space savings of not keeping the paper volumes around. Devices will come and go, and will certainly improve, so I don’t let that weigh in my opinions.

    One day, many, if not all of the negatives above will go away, much like has happened in the digital music space. In the meantime, I only purchase eBooks under $5, with liberal sharing permissions. This means indie authors. I no longer purchase printed books new (for myself, at least). I have been VERY happy with this, not only in saving money but reading some really kick-ass stuff. Consider that my boycott against the publishing industry and their outdated business model.

    1. Thanks for your comment.

      For this: For people that MUST have the feel of paper! Is this REALLY worth mentioning?

      This is the SINGLE biggest reason people don’t buy a Kindle. It has been for all 4 years. Most people know nothing about DRM or ePub. But they feel they’ll miss the touch and feel of books.

      1. The sheer obviousness of the statement made me not want to read the rest of them. Then again, Snickers Bars put a peanut allergy warning right under the “Packed with Peanuts” tagline, so it is likely this disclaimer is unnecessary 🙂

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