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.

50 Reasons to Buy a Kindle

Here are 50 Reasons to buy a Kindle. There will also be a companion post in a few days – 40 Reasons not to buy a Kindle.

#1 One Kindle replaces 1,000 books – One device can replace a whole pile of books. Isn’t that the best reason to buy a Kindle?

#2 Read while travelling – All of us spend a lot of time traveling. Some of us travel everyday. Why not make all that time productive by reading books?

#3 Choice of Kindle Models –  Do you want an inexpensive/compact model? Do you want a large screen? Do you want a keyboard? Do you want a touch screen? Do you want a color LCD multimedia tablet? Do you want 3G? Whichever model do you want, Kindles come in a variety of choices.

#4 Amazon has a somewhat exhaustive collection of books – Books are the reason you want to buy an eReader in the first place, right? Amazon, being the market leader, has a somewhat exhaustive collection of eBooks. There are more than one million titles available as of today and the collection is growing everyday.

#5 Availability of quite a few books at low prices – More than 800,000 titles available as eBooks in Amazon cost less than $9.99. There are lots of free public domain books. There are quite a few $1 and $2 and $3 books. Kindle lets you pay less and read more.

#6 E-Ink Technology – Except the tablet version (the Kindle Fire), all the Kindle models come with screens that use E-ink technology. This is the closest you can get to the actual physical book reading experience. You can read for a long time without straining your eyes. You can even read from a Kindle in broad daylight. There is no glare.

People who own both a Tablet and an eInk eReader prefer reading from the eInk eReader. This is across all Tablets (iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook, Nexus 7). A dedicated eReader with an eInk screen is just better suited for reading, works in sunlight, and has few distractions.

#7 Easy to use – There is no point in buying a device if you have to take a crash course on how to use it. Amazon Kindle has been used by kids and grannies and non-tech savvy readers with ease and enthusiasm. It’s very simple to use and user-friendly for the most part.

#8 Thousands of free new books, millions of free public domain books – There are thousands of free books available for the Kindle. You can also access all the books available for free in the public domain (classics, etc) via various online sites like Gutenberg, Many Reads, and Internet Archive.

#9 Amazon Prime membership – If you are a frequent reader, you might just want to sign up for the Amazon Prime membership which allows you to read up to one free eBook a month (out of a limited set of titles).

#10 Long lasting and Durable – Amazon says that its Kindle can easily survive falls from 3-5 feet of height. But don’t try it! Kindle has absolutely no moving parts and holds up well under frequent use.

#11 Make reading a habit – With an eReader, you can both entertain and educate yourself. Kindle is an excellent way to make reading a habit. Good habits are as difficult to break as bad ones. So, develop a good habit.

#12 Use it in many countries – Kindle can be used in many countries and it is available in all major languages. It can be your best companion during international travels.

#13 Screen is large enough – Kindle is not your cell phone. The screen in any Kindle device is large enough to display text clearly. The interface is optimized for reading, without a  multitude of distractions.

#14 Font size/type can be adjusted – Eight font sizes and three font types are available for the Kindle. Choose the font that appeals the most to you.

#15 Long battery life – Amazon says that the Kindle lasts for one/two months (depending on the model) if you use it for half an hour every day. The battery charge lasts much longer than your cell phones and tablets.

In practical terms it means you’ll only have to charge it after every 3-4 books, probably only once a week, and that you can travel without a charger. Charge it and then forget about the battery till next week.

#16 Rechargeable battery – Nearly all devices come with rechargeable batteries these days, and so does Kindle. No worrying about buying batteries.

#17 Amazon Whispernet – Connect to the Internet and buy/download books for free using the Amazon Whispernet high-speed network in the US.

#18 AffordablePopular Kindle models are priced between $79 to $149. The prices might have reduced further by the time you are reading this article.

#19 Saves a lot of space in your house – This should be obvious. With Kindle, physical books don’t clutter your house any longer. You can use your existing books to create a beautiful book showcase in your living room. And buy all your new ones in ebook form to avoid clutter.

#20 Pay lower prices for books (sometimes) – An eBook costs lesser than its physical counterpart. Well, sometimes.

#21 Read text from other formats – You can convert a lot of file formats into the Kindle format using the Kindle online system or a free app like Calibre (recommended).

#22 Touch to turn the page – If you are a fan of touching and caressing devices, you’ll love the Kindle touch screen based models.

#23 Keyboard – Some models (Kindle Keyboard Model) have a keyboard that allows you to take notes/quotes without having to search for a notebook/pen. Some models have an on-screen keyboard which isn’t quite the same but works for very short notes.

#24 Low cost tabletThe Kindle Fire is a low-cost tablet that does most of what you expect from a tablet. Want to browse the net? Play games? Download apps? Play music, video and multimedia? You can do them all and much more at a price that is less than most tablets out there. Of course, you can read color/interactive books as well. Watch out for Kindle Fire 2. It’s coming out soon.

#25 Sync across devices – With Whispersync, it is possible to sync bookmarks, your place in the book, annotations, etc. across other mobile devices that have a Kindle App available.

#26 Text to speech – Some Kindle books are enabled with text to speech functionality. So, if you feel like listening to a book instead of reading it, you can do so with the Kindle (Note: Only for books where Read to Me feature is not disabled).

#27 Built-in dictionary – You want to look-up the meaning of a complex word mentioned in your eBook? No problem. You can do it on the Kindle without leaving the current page.

#28 X-Ray – Not satisfied with looking up the meanings of words? You can do more with X-Ray. You can read a short synopsis of a character or you can find out more about an important person/event mentioned in the book. You can do all this instantly without connecting to the Internet as long as the X-Ray feature is available for the book/Kindle model. How cool is that?

#29 Support for PDF, DOC & Image formats – Kindle supports PDF, DOC, HTML and image formats like jpeg, etc. You can upload many types of documents and read them later using the Kindle.

Please Note: Kindle PDF support is spotty at best. Also, the 6″ screens are not at all ideal for reading PDFs and even Kindle DX isn’t really big enough. Most PDFs are meant for A4 or Letter sized sheets of paper and don’t translate well to smaller screens (even Kindle DX sized screens).

#30 Listen to music while reading – With some Kindle models, you can load songs/music and listen to them while reading a book. Imagine reading your favorite book with soft music playing in the background (without needing to carry your music player everywhere with you).

#31 Rotate pages – Some Kindle models like the Kindle DX can show eBooks both in the landscape mode, as well as the portrait mode. This is very useful for reading in larger font.

#32 Large screen – The Kindle DX has a large 9.7” E-ink display. If you want a large screen, you got it. Large screens are especially useful for surfing and PDFs and if you have weaker vision.

#33 Amazon Kindle is the market leader – Choose the eInk eReader that the largest number of other readers choose.

#34 Borrow books from a lending library – You can take your Kindle and borrow eBooks from a public/lending library near your house. Note: Some Libraries don’t have ebooks for loaning, and Libraries that do have varying range and selection.

#35 Read magazines/newspapers/blogs – For a small monthly fee, you can read your favorite magazines, newspapers and blogs directly on the Kindle. Save trees and your windows and pots and plants.

#36 FREE Kindle Software Updates – You can receive operating system (software) updates over the net and your device automatically gets updated.

Please Note: Older Kindles sometimes don’t get features added to newer Kindles.

#37 Textbook rental program – Students can enroll in a textbook rental program available with Amazon and save a lot of money by borrowing available eBooks for a small price over a limited time. Note: Selection varies. Please check that the selection will match your needs BEFORE buying a Kindle for educational purposes.

#38 Listen to audio books – Some Kindle models like Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Touch can play audio books from Audible. Read or listen, it’s your choice.

#39 Identify new authors – The Kindle Direct Publishing program allows authors to publish their books directly, without going through a publisher. That basically opens up the book market to more talented authors who would have otherwise not been able to have their books published. You get the power to choose which author succeeds.

#40 Read Samples – You may want to read reviews/samples before buying books written by new authors. You can download the first chapter and sample the author’s work before buying any book. For seasoned readers, reading through a few pages is enough to judge an author.

Note: Authors sometimes also have cheap deals on their books and sometimes even free books to encourage readers to buy their other works. So Samples are just one way to try out new authors.

#41 Interact with the book – You can add bookmarks, add annotations, take notes and highlight selected text. You can even check Popular Highlights i.e. the portions which were most often highlighted by other readers.

#42 Cloud backup – A copy of all your books is stored in the Amazon cloud automatically. If you accidentally delete your books or break your device, you can download the books once again (without any additional charges for downloading the books).

#43 Read from multiple devices – Kindle apps are available for a lot of devices like iPad, iPhone, Android phones/tablets, PC, Mac, etc. You can download your books to any of these devices and read them from those devices.

#44 Quick battery recharge – Just three hours of battery recharge time is sufficient to fully charge your Kindle. You can then read from your Kindle for a whole month (half to one hour a day depending on the model).

#45 Read from any angle – Unlike a LCD screen, the contrast ratio of the E-ink display does not change based on the angle from which you view the Kindle. You can hold the Kindle in any direction and still get the same display clarity.

#46 Stays cool – Unlike computers, cell phones and tablets, the Kindle reader does not become hot when used for a long time. Hot in your heart, not in your hands.

#47 Full screen image display – It is possible to zoom-in and see images in full screen.

#48 Active user-base and reviews – You can find reviews for most of the books listed on Amazon as there is an active reader community that is willing to help others. Of course, you are also encouraged to leave reviews after reading a book.

#49 Games – There are some simple games like Everyword and Number Slide that are exclusively designed for the Kindle. If you like a little distraction when reading a long book, you might want to try them.

#50 Fifty reasons – The fact that we are able to come up with fifty reasons to buy a Kindle (OK, make that 49) is in itself a sign of the usefulness of the Kindle.

Don’t change the channel. In a few days, we’ll be back with 40 reasons to NOT buy a Kindle.

Kindle 3 – Should you buy a Kindle 3?

The Kindle 3 is available at Amazon for $189 and the Kindle WiFi is available for $139. This post will help you figure out whether you should get a Kindle 3 for yourself.

Should you buy a Kindle 3?

First, let’s get familiar with the Kindle 3 -

  1. There are Kindle 3 videos at the Kindle 3 Videos page. 
  2. There are daytime Kindle 3 photos at the Kindle 3 Photos page.  
  3. There are also nighttime Kindle 3 photos and Kindle 3 comparison photos (where Kindle 3 is contrasted against most of the other eReaders). 
  4. Here’s a comprehensive Kindle 3 Review – This was written after an hour with the Kindle 3 so it isn’t exactly perfect. 
  5. A more detailed Kindle 3 Review is in the works - Will update this post when it’s done.

After looking at these posts you ought to have a really good idea of whether the Kindle 3 is right for you.

Kindle 3 – Who it’s perfect for

If you answer yes to one or more of these then the Kindle 3 will probably be a great fit -

  1. Love to read.  
  2. Want to read more than you currently do. 
  3. Don’t like reading on LCD screens.

If you are completely unaffected by LCD screens and can read entire books on them without getting tired then you don’t really need an eReader. If you want a device that does more than just read then also you don’t really need an eReader.

Basically, the Kindle 3 is perfect for anyone who loves or likes to read and wants a device that’s easy on the eyes and very similar to reading a book.

Which Kindle should you get?

Should you get Kindle 3 or Kindle WiFi?

You need 3G or WiFi only when downloading books and even that can be done via your PC. So the difference between 3G and WiFi comes down to where you need to be able to download books and browse the Internet.

With Kindle 3 you’ll be able to do that anywhere you have access to the AT&T network or access to a WiFi hotspot. With Kindle WiFi you’ll be able to do it only where you have access to a WiFi hotspot.

Here’s a full Kindle WiFi Review and here’s a Kindle 3G or WiFi discussion.

Should you get Kindle Graphite or white?

The Kindle Graphite is a better choice for screen contrast as the graphite casing helps to really bring out the contrast of the eInk Pearl screen. Here’s a post discussing the various nuances of Kindle graphite vs white.

Unless you have an extremely strong reason to prefer the white Kindle 3 my recommendation would be to go with the graphite version.

What about the Kindle 3 being out of stock?

There’s a 3 week delay at the moment. The delays have been increasing steadily and it’s quite likely that as videos and photos and Kindle 3 reviews come out sales will go up.

When users start getting their Kindle 3s and Kindle WiFis at the end of August a lot of user reviews will go up and lots of people will see the Kindle 3 in person. The eInk Pearl screen is excellent and the Kindle 3 is pretty amazing – We’re likely to see a lot more orders once people get to actually see and play with the Kindle 3.

If you’re pretty sure you want to get a Kindle 3 it’s best to avoid the likely rush at the end of August and buy the Kindle 3 now.

Is Kindle worth $259?

While the Kindle is now priced a lot less than its launch price of $399 we still always get the same question - Is Kindle worth $259? 

Well, let’s see if we can answer that question.

Hat tip to Kindle World for mentioning the Kindle Forum thread about this (link at the bottom of the post).

How many books a month do you read?

Before you explore whether the Kindle is worth $259, it’s worth looking at a few questions -

  1. Do you read one or more books every month? If not, please consider something else.
  2. Do you want something that ‘also happens to let you read books’ as opposed to a dedicated eBook reader? If yes, consider Kindle for PC or Kindle for iPhone.
  3. Is $259 too expensive for you and you want a $100 price? If yes, wait 1-2 years.

This post does not cater to -

  1. People who read less than a book a month.
  2. People who cannot afford $259.
  3. People who prefer multi-purpose devices over dedicated eReaders. 

Please skip this post if you fall into one of the above 3 categories.

What you actually pay for the Kindle

Thinking the price you pay is $259 is misleading.

What you really pay - Kindle Add-ons

Here are what your costs will be -

  1. $259 for the Kindle.
  2. $10-$15 Shipping.
  3. $25 to $40 for a cover.
  4. $20 for a reading light.
  5. $5 -$10 for a screen protector.
  6. For people in Washington (and perhaps NC and a couple more states) – Sales Taxes.

3. through 5. are optional although the cover is strongly recommended and the reading light is necessary for reading at night.

These additional costs (2. through 6.) are why my recommendation is - If you can’t afford $259 don’t think about getting the Kindle. 

Will you sell your Kindle?

If you plan on selling your Kindle at some point of time, perhaps when you get a new Kindle, it helps to look at what you’ll get for it -

  1. Kindles hold their value very well. Used Kindle 2s are currently retailing for around $240 on Amazon.
  2. Used Kindle 1s were retailing for around $150 (this was nearly 2 years after the release). 
  3. New models keep coming out all the time, and at lower prices. That balances 1. somewhat.

That means you can look to get at least $125 and probably even $150 when you sell your Kindle 1 or 2 years down the line.

It’s up to you whether you deduct this from the $259 cost of the Kindle or not.

Conclusion – $259 is not the magic figure

Your price could be anywhere from $269 to $319 or more. 

[Optional] If you take out what you get for your Kindle when you sell it, say for $125, you end up with a cost between $144 and $194.

Your magic figure for the Kindle could be anywhere from $144 to $319.

Breaking down the value you get from the Kindle

Let’s look at all the value you get -

Free Books

Here are all the free books you get -

  1. All the popular classics for free.  
  2. 10-20 new free books from the Kindle Store. These are book offers. 
  3. Lots of indie titles for free.
  4. 1.8 million public domain titles from the Internet Archive. Keep in mind that most of these won’t really interest you.

That’s a ton of free books. This might easily be worth $5 or $10 a month to you – perhaps even more.

Note: You can’t get library books on your Kindle. At the moment it’s not an issue as most libraries don’t have much in the way of ebook selection. This might change down the line.  

Cheaper Books Vs Reading More

This is rather complicated so will list the pros and the cons.

The pros are -

  1. Bestsellers and most books are $9.99. Much cheaper than hardcovers. 
  2. Lots of indie titles are $1 and $2.  
  3. There are discounts and buy one get one free offers.

The cons are -

  1. You can’t get all books as ebooks.
  2. You tend to read more and end up negating the lower prices.
  3. 3 of the big 6 Publishers are trying to delay ebook release dates by 4 months.
  4. You cannot share your books (except kindle sharing - discussed below).
  5. You cannot sell your books.
  6. Some paperbacks are as cheap or cheaper.
  7. Some Kindle editions are not $9.99.

Where does that leave us?

Those against the Kindle will say you save nothing because you can’t sell used books.

However, there is a tangible benefit to getting bestsellers and new releases for $10 instead of $20. Plus cheap indie titles and the occasional deals.

This is another $5 to $10 per month benefit. However, you might very well negate this by buying more books and spending more.

Note: Some people think that by buying twice the number of books you’re saving twice the money. I don’t. If you do that’s fine.  

Free Internet, Free Wikipedia, Email

While the browser is slow, you get a lot of benefits -

  1. You can check your email (use the mobile sites).
  2. Use twitter.
  3. Read the news.
  4. Wikipedia for reference.
  5. Check weather.

Yet another $5 to $10 per month value.

Convenience and Time

Things are so much easier –  

  1. You no longer have to go to the store every time you want to get a book.
  2. No more spending on gas or car wear and tear.
  3. You don’t have to wait even 15 minutes - get books in a minute.
  4. You can get newspapers and periodicals delivered automatically in the morning.

Hard to put a monetary value on your time – However, it gives you more time for reading and other things you like to do.  

No shipping and in most states no taxes

This might not apply to you.

  1. If you buy online you pay shipping, and occasionally taxes.
  2. If you buy in store you pay taxes.

No more of that except in certain states that levy taxes on eBooks and in Washington (as Amazon has physical presence there).

Storage Space and Portability – Kindle as Portable Bookshelf

You can do a lot of things with the Kindle -

  1. Save space.
  2. Save on cost of additional bookshelves.
  3. Avoid clutter.
  4. Save on moving costs when moving.
  5. Stop losing books.
  6. Take all your books everywhere with you.
  7. No more time packing and unpacking or deciding what to take along.

What the value of this is to you will vary. However, it is a real benefit.

Audiobooks and Read To Me

Here’s what you get -

  1. You can listen to Audible audiobooks and mp3 audiobooks (including lots of free audiobooks from LibriVox).
  2. A decent percentage of Kindle Books have Read To Me enabled i.e. the Kindle reads to you while driving, while cooking, etc.
  3. All your personal documents can be read.
  4. All the free public domain books you get can be read to you.

The voice is very unpolished – it is not a human being speaking.

However, you get free text to speech instead of having to pay $20 for audiobooks.

This will only apply if you use the feature and are not picky about it not being humans doing the reading. However, if it applies, it’s easily $5 to $10 or more a month.

6 Kindles on 1 Account, Reading on 5 devices at 1 time

There are two aspects to this.

Read across your devices -

  1. Your Kindle(s). 
  2. On your PC via Kindle for PC.
  3. On your iPhone or iPod Touch via Kindle for iPhone. 
  4. Soon on your Mac and Blackberry.

You can read across all these devices and synchronize your bookmarks and location in the book.

Share books with your family -

  1. This only applies if you have multiple kindles or have an iphone or will read on a PC.
  2. You can share a book across multiple kindles or a kindle and several other devices (PC, iPhone, etc.).
  3. That means multiple people can read the same book at the same time.

That’s something you can’t do with physical books.

People who don’t like the Kindle will say this has no value and instead talk about the lack of sharing.

If you think about it this feature does have some value – you and your husband and your daughter can all read the book at the same time.

Let’s say it’s $5 to $10 a month.

Putting it Together – The Value of the Kindle

Here was what the Kindle actually costs -

  1. $269 to $319 for the Kindle 2.  
  2. $144 to $194 if you think you’ll sell it for $125 in 2 years.

And here is our grand list of what the Kindle’s features and benefits are worth -

  1. Free Books – $5 to $10 a month. 
  2. Cheaper Books Vs Buying More Books – Either $5 to $10 a month or nothing.  
  3. Free Internet, Email – $5 to $10 a month. 
  4. Convenience and Time – Varies based on what your time is worth. 
  5. No Shipping or Taxes (usually) – Varies.
  6. Storage Space and Portability – Varies by person.
  7. Audiobooks and Read To Me – Either $5 to $10 a month or nothing.
  8. 6 Kindles on 1 Account, Reading across Multiple Devices – Either $5 to $10 a month or nothing.  

Which adds up to -

  1. In the worst case – $10 a month plus time and convenience.
  2. In the most probable case – $20 a month plus time and convenience.

If you fall into the bucket of people who benefit from half or more of the 8 benefits listed above, then your Kindle will be worth at least $20 a month.

The Short-Cut – Is Kindle worth $259 to you?

Simply put a monthly dollar figure for the 8 items above and add them up – that’s what the Kindle is worth to you every month.

Multiply that monthly value by the number of months you intend to keep your Kindle and then compare that to the cost price (either full price or price taking resale value into account).

You should have an answer.

This calculation should also help explain why the ‘ read at least 1 book a month’ criteria is a good one.

Did Kindle meet the bar for you?

Congrats – Whether it did or not, you found out whether it’s a good fit for you.

That’s the aim of this post – to help you figure out whether the Kindle is worth $259 to you. It should be a pretty clear-cut answer.

Read Kindle owners’ thoughts on Is Kindle worth $259 price? at the official Kindle forum.

Amazon Kindle Review + Recommendation – The Kindle Decision aka the $359 Question

Should You Buy a Kindle?
I’m collating everything I’ve read and realized in the process of researching the Kindle for this blog and answering the ‘Should I buy a Kindle’ question via the following sections -

  1. I start off by listing the categories of people for which the decision is a no-brainer.
  2. After that I list the main functionality and additional functionalities.
  3. I list the major pros that Actual Kindle Owners have listed.
  4. I then list the major cons from Kindle owners and critics (i.e. people who’ve never owned a Kindle and have strong opinions) alike. For the cons I have included an explanation of whether it really is a con or not since there seems to be a ton of misinformation on the internet.

Note: I have collated details and information from all sorts of reviews (owners; non-owners; amazon customers; journalists) – if you do want to look at reviews yourself there is an excruciatingly painful level of detail on the Should I Buy a Kindle? page or you could use the link on the left to jump to Reviews at Amazon and go through the 1700+ reviews there.

Category of People for which its a definite YES:

  1. Anyone who reads a lot of books i.e. 1 book a week or more
  2. Anyone who reads a lot while commuting and/or travelling i.e. more than 1 business trip a month OR a commute time of greater than 1 hr a day on a train/bus/tube.
  3. Someone who is looking specifically for an ereader that adds on a TON of bonuses like free internet access.

    There might be a few categories i’m missing here and will add these as more come up. If you fall into one of the above three categories, you can rest assured that like the overwhelming majority of Kindle owners you will love it – Go Ahead and Buy the Kindle at Amazon.

Category of People for which its a definite NO:

  1. People who want a laptop, UPMC, iTouch, cellphone or some other device and don’t really want an ebook reader.
  2. People who are hung up over DRM – authors deserve to get money for what they write – sending a book out without DRM would severely cut authors’ and publishers’ revenue streams. The music album download that radiohead set up where they let users decide on how much users wanted to pay is a good example since a lot of people did not pay even 1 cent for the album. If an author writes a good or great book, its completely reasonable for him to expect to get paid. DRM might not be the most elegant solution – however, its a necessary evil. Until someone finds a better solution DRM is the only way authors can get what they deserve.
  3. People who are NOT looking for an ebook reader. A lot of Kindle haters are people who don’t even read much and are attacking it for something other than its core functionality i.e. it being an ebook reader. You can read books on your cellphone, your PDA, your Asus EeePC and your laptop. So if you only have a passing interest in books and just want to ‘try out’ reading on a device, then use a device you have and don’t buy a Kindle.

A Quick Synopsis of Functionality, Pros, and Cons

  1. The Main Function – A book reader. That’s it. If you read a lot of books, especially on the go and want an elegant eReader then the Kindle is a Great Fit.
  2. Additional Functions (listing the main ones)
    1. [Experimental] GPS Device with Google Maps
    2. Wireless Internet Access with Experimental Browser
    3. Music Player [Random Shuffle of Songs] 
    4. Audio Books
    5. [Experimental with no Colour] Picture Viewer 
    6. Amazon Kindle Store for Books 
    7. NewsPapers and Magazines
  3. Big Pluses
    1. The overwhelming majority of People who own it, love it.
    2. eInk screen looks much closer to a book than any electronic device screen (except of course for other devices that use eInk)
    3. Easier on the eyes + can also change font sizes
    4. Free Ebooks – insane collection of books from all eras.
    5. Over 100,000 eBooks from the amazon Kindle Store
    6. Amazon store all the time
    7. Newspaper and Magazine subscriptions
    8. Blogs (my recommendation is to use the browser and not use the 1$ a month subscription service)
    9. Free Wireless Access – Wikipedia + Internet browsing + being on EVDO means you aren’t just restricted to WiFi hotspots.
    10. Kindle NowNow – instant answers from real people
    11. Dictionary
    12. Up to 6 Kindles on one account. So a family can share their books. Or a group of friends. Or a group of classmates
    13. Easy to shop and books get downloaded in 1-2 minutes
    14. Easy to travel and move.
    15. Access to all your books easily.
    16. Save paper = save trees.
    17. Can make notes on the Kindle
    18. Transport all your reading material in the Kindle.  
    19. Built in capacity for 200 books.
      1.  SD card to add capacity
      2. Newspapers
      3. Magazines
      4. Blogs
    20. Extensions 
      1.  MineSweeper
      2. Convert from formats like PDF to view on your Kindle
  4. Big Drawbacks
    1. Price is steep (at $400).
    2. Not a Colour Monitor
    3. The backbutton gets pressed inadvertently
    4. Delivery Time wait – approximately 6 weeks when i last did a study.
    5. Problems with the Cover – Velcro solution (flicker picture) – there is a solution.
    6. Aesthetics – This is a very individual thing.
      1. Don’t like it’s only in white
      2. Button design (already mentioned back button problem)
    7. Limited number of papers and magazines
    8. Limited number of books (at 100K books now – so check what you like + whether it’s available + have close to 75% of bestsellers)
    9. $1 for blog subscription – solution: just read off the browser
    10. Only in the US + no coverage in montana and alaska. – Do check coverage BEFORE you order. important.
    11. Lack of support for common file formats – solution: MobiPocket Creator.
    12. How do you lend books to friends? Personally, i’ve lost too many good books. and at 10$ a book – let ‘em buy it. or share an account amongst friends.
    13. Prospect of free wireless internet later being removed. Highly unlikely cause of the public outcry and i’m sure there are legal issues here.

Conclusion

If you read a lot of books, travel or commute regularly, or one of the main pros makes the Kindle a winner for you, then Go Ahead and Buy the Kindle at Amazon. It is easily the best eBook Reader solution available (and i include all the additional things it brings to the table).

Additionally, if some information on this blog or this post helped you make a decison – that makes me feel my time is well spent.

If you need to look at more facts or more of an in-depth discussion try this page – Should I Buy a Kindle?

If on the other hand, you are looking for something other than an ebook reader, then please take into acount that the Kindle’s main functionality is ‘eBook Reader’ and expecting it to be a cellphone, mini computer, ultra portable laptop, etc. will lead to disappointment.
Finally, if you have one or two main reasons that are dissuading you from buying a kindle, please add them as a comment so we can submit it to Amazon as ‘Suggestions’ for Kindle Version 2.0.

And thank you for surviving this far ;)
A much more detailed list of Kindle extensions, pros, cons, reviews etc. is available at the Should I Buy a Kindle? page.

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