Should I get a Kindle?
April 21, 2014 9:08 AM   Subscribe

Thinking about buying a Kindle Paperwhite. But do I neeeeeeed one?

I am thinking about buying a Kindle Paperwhite. I currently have an iPad 2 and do a lot of reading on it. Help me justify (or not) the purchase of a Kindle.

On the iPad I do a lot of reading of:
• longform articles in Pocket (formerly Read It Later)
• blogs in Feedly, and
• Kindle e-books in the Kindle app

The trouble is that I am MUCH more successful at finishing physical books than e-books on the iPad because I get distracted by other internet stuff. Also, the full-size iPad is a little hard to carry around, and when I'm reading a paperback it's usually small enough to be in my bag at all times, making me more likely to read it during downtime throughout the day.

I was thinking about getting an iPad mini for my purse but it doesn't solve my first problem and it also seems a little redundant to have an iPad, iPhone and iPad mini. Plus the e-ink and backlight seems like a bonus over reading on the iPad.

So those with Paperwhites: can I read Pocket and Feedly on them? I know the browser kinda sucks so my plan is to use the Kindle mostly for e-books (it's not a bug, it's a feature!) but the apps would be an added plus.

Re; the touchscreen — I enjoy highlighting passages in books on the iPad, and I'm assuming the Kindle touchscreen makes this really easy. Also searching for passages. Can Paperwhite owners confirm? I think I would prefer a Kindle with a touchscreen over buttons.

Also, why would a person opt for a 3G Paperwhite over the regular one? I DO travel a lot (often internationally) but can usually find wifi.

Thanks in advance for your advice.
posted by Brittanie to Technology (37 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I got a Kindle Fire, and it's a great little thing to travel with. I read mine in Paperwhite because I found the resolution on the old Kindle just didn't work with my shitty eyesight. I also like that I can read it in the dark, on a plane or in a hotel room with someone sleeping.

I can surf the internet if I want, play games, watch movies or tv, yet it's small enough to slide into my purse (a bit on the heavy side though.)

I got mine for $139 and I think that's a tidy deal.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:11 AM on April 21, 2014

The trouble is that I am MUCH more successful at finishing physical books than e-books on the iPad because I get distracted by other internet stuff.

The paperwhite is good for one thing: reading books and articles. That's it. You can use the browser if you're desperate (like, trapped in an elevator desperate), but it's not good or easy for anything else.

I love mine so much it's kind of embarrassing. I have the wifi-only one and have never needed to download something so badly that I couldn't wait a bit for wifi. Also, you can load so much stuff on it that running out of things to read will be a nightmare of the past. You can have your main book, your backup emergency book, and umpteen other backup emergency things to read on there and still have room for more.
posted by rtha at 9:13 AM on April 21, 2014 [13 favorites]

what about a traditional ebook reader?
I was faced with a very similar situation--I've read a lot of ebooks on the Kindle app of my aging iPhone but balked at the idea of getting a Mini because of the potential distractions, having to care about its screen, battery life. I opted instead for the no frills Kindle eBook reader for durability, stow-ability, and long battery life.
posted by wallawallasweet at 9:17 AM on April 21, 2014

I had a similar usage pattern with my iPad, and recently sprang for a Paperwhite and I LOVE. LOVE. LOVE it. I'm finding myself reading a helluva lot more books on the Kindle - the screen is just such a pleasure to look at.

I've yet to try using Pocket or feeds on my Kindle, but TBH my phone is my Pocket device of choice (I tend to read my Pocket articles to fill in little interstitial bits of time, like waiting for the bus or short flights).

I say pull the trigger, you won't regret it!
posted by nerdfish at 9:19 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

When it comes to longform reading, dedicated e-readers are soooooooooo much better than tablets. Books shouldn't be blasting light in your face.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:20 AM on April 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

Pocket works well with Calibre, which will happily send stuff via email to your Kindle. I'd bet Feedly does the same. I know it's easy, though I don't know the exact details, and it will depend slightly on how you use those two.

I have a different backlit e-ink reader and it is so much better for reading than a tablet. The no distraction is great. It's also much lighter and works better in the sun.
posted by jeather at 9:21 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm with rtha. I love my paperwhite more than is rational. It does one thing insanely well and that is allow you to read in almost any situation. The backlight is perfect for reading in the dark, the screen with the backlight turned off is ideal for reading in the bright sun, and if you stick in a quart sized ziploc bag, it's waterproof enough to read in the tub.

I also have the wifi only one and the only time I've paid for wifi access because I needed the book RIGHT then was on a superlong flight. I was reading a series of novels and had forgotten to download book two before I left free wifi land. Book 1 ended in a cliffhanger and I ended up paying for a few hours of wifi from Delta to get book 2 so the jonesing would stop.

Finally, with the highlighting, you can download your highlighted passages into a spreadsheet or Evernote with Clippings Converter. Made the research work for my dissertation a breeze.
posted by teleri025 at 9:22 AM on April 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

another paperwhite superfan here. just last week, the screen on mine broke (the face of a creepy baby from an ad was frozen in the e-ink. haunted? you decide). I got another one right away. I'm a writer and I also use it to highlight & take notes on manuscripts; the latter is cumbersome compared to the iPad (typing is pretty slow), but the lightness & soothingly lit e-ink display is so worth it. I have wi-fi only and it's never been an issue.
posted by changeling at 9:26 AM on April 21, 2014

I love my iPad, but I switch to the Paperwhite anytime I am settling in for a good long read, or having trouble following a book, or want to lighten up my bag. E-ink, lighter weight, battery life, and lack of distractions are all really good features when you want to truly sit down and READ.

But I wouldn't anticipate being able to use the browser or otherwise do anything except read. It might be that you could set up something wacky where something you'd saved to Pocket or Feedly could get auto-emailed to your Kindle email address, and then it would show up on your Kindle like any other book. Maybe with the apps themselves, or maybe you could come up with some sort of IFTTT trigger. But short of finding something like that to work with, I don't think you'd want to count on being able to use either with your Kindle.

I accidentally got the wifi rather than 3G one this time (have always had 3G ones previously), and 99% of the time I don't even notice. Once in a blue moon, I'll be on the bus or somewhere else without wifi and realize that the one book I really wanted to start is not actually downloaded, and then I pout. But I get over it quickly because I probably have two hundred other books sitting there, so it's not ever a big problem to just find something else on the Kindle that I want to read.
posted by Stacey at 9:29 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I impulsively bought a paperwhite back in August. I have a smartphone and an ipad and know I could read ebooks on those, and I'm (was) an avid library-goer so ALWAYS had a new book in my bag. I read so much more now. So so so much more. And everywhere. Like in bed at night with no lights on because it's right there and I can and I know I won't get sucked into an internet hole just by picking it up.

I do not regret it one tiny little bit. It's a unitasker, but it's one that fills a niche nothing else does. If something catastrophic were to happen today, like my bag got hit by a car or something, I'd have amazon send me a new one next day shipping. That's how much I love it and use it.
posted by phunniemee at 9:32 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Looks like you can easily get Pocket and Calibre to play nicely, and since Calibre will convert pretty much anything to mobi (and strip DRM once you have the correct plugins loaded), you will want Calibre on your desk/laptop.
posted by rtha at 9:33 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

One word - Yes!

I like reading on the Kindle Paperwhite, especially at night since the screen has enough illumination to not need any other source of lighting. It's easier to hold and you can just doze off without having to worry about finding the last place you were reading.

I'd save the money and just get the wi-fi version. You can always download books in advance. The premium isn't really worth it.

As far as books go when deciding to buy an e-book or a dead tree version, I use a simple logic - if I am going to use the book as a reference later on, or if it is a book that I would like to re-read more than once = Dead Tree Version. If not = e-book.
posted by rippersid at 9:39 AM on April 21, 2014

Pocket support for standalone kindles is crap:
  • Pocket does not take advantage of the ability to use Amazon's send-to-kindle feature to send articles to your device, despite the fact that people have been clamoring for it for YEARS
  • Pocket instead suggests using calibre to transfer, which means plugging your kindle in every time you want to get more articles. WHYYYYY
  • There are some standalone apps that will periodically poll your pocket queue to email articles to your kindle:
    • En2kindle: Works, but clunky. The filenames they send don't indicate what articles are inside them.
    • IFTTT: this recipe requires full access to your gmail account. no thanks.

  • I even considered rolling my own updater from Pocket's API, but they no longer allow regular API users to access full articles; just snippets.

There are other options:
  • Amazon has a send to kindle plugin for most browsers.
  • Instapaper will send daily digests of articles to your kindle, or, if you use their paid service, I think they can also send individual articles. (I didn't like the digest version, and didn't want to pay for individual articles.)
I found all this out because I wanted a paperwhite for the same reasons as you: lightweight, easy-to-read screen for pocket articles and books. I returned my paperwhite after two days—it was just too much of a pain in the ass to get pocket articles onto it. (And I'm paranoid about personal data, so didn't want to install an Amazon browser plugin.)

In the end, I'm back using my first-gen Kindle Fire with the Pocket app, and still wishing for an e-ink screen. :(
posted by homodachi at 9:58 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you have Amazon Prime there's a bunch of books you can borrow one per month. We can't do that on our Ipads. Here's a list.
posted by sevenless at 10:10 AM on April 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I love my Kindle precisely because it stops me from wandering off into the Internet. I send myself articles all day while I'm on the Web, then read them (and books, most of which I get from the library) in bed. I've had a few, and the Paperwhite is my favorite.

I have to use the iPad Kindle app sometimes and, while I like it, I find it annoying and it doesn't help with my wandering habits. A dedicated device is just what I need.

(Amazon pays my mortgage, but I think I'd love my Kindle anyway.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:11 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nthing all the Paperwhite love. You definitely do *not* need the 3G version—WiFi is just fine. There's also no need to pay extra for the ad-free version. The ads are incredibly unobtrusive—I think maybe they only appear on the sleep screen? (There's also a setting that will show you "recommendations" on your library screen, but you can turn that off.)

And the Send-to-Kindle browser plugin works very nicely. Occasionally it breaks, but Amazon is good at updating it.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:36 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Pocket instead suggests using calibre to transfer, which means plugging your kindle in every time you want to get more articles.

I might not have a Kindle, but friends do, and I can email books to their Kindles, which automagically appear when they connect to wifi. I agree that having to go Pocket-Calibre-Kindle is an extra, unnecessary step, but they can both be automated if you're willing to leave Calibre running all the time. (I decided to set up Pocket on Calibre after this thread.)
posted by jeather at 10:45 AM on April 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Personally I still have the bottom of the line kindle because I feel strongly about the buttons & one-handed reading. As light as it is, I still swap hands back and forth, and with the physical buttons it's an identical tiny movement to flip the page. With the touch screen it would be more onerous to flip forward using my left hand.

You may or may not find that annoying; you're probably used to it, but with an ipad I'd bet you're typically holding two handed anyway.

As far as the Pocket reading, homodachi mentions Instapaper. has a daily digest option. The Instapaper browser shortcut to send a single simple-formatted article to the kindle email address works very well. I find that better than digest because your personal documents listing gets junked up with Instapaper digests and the management interface at Amazon is kinda crap for bulk operations. However it means no tag-and-read-anywhere sort of behavior.

Personally I couldn't read on the ipad as much as I wanted to; it was just too hard on my reading-glasses-needing eyes. The kindle I can spend hours reading on with no more strain than paper. As far as more progress with paper, I think you'll find the kindle's light weight and smaller size will turn that on its head for you.
posted by phearlez at 10:47 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh poop - left one thing out. The other really nice thing about using Calibre and the Kindle using the email option rather than the cable to transfer is that those sent documents show up in your Amazon archive. So you can pull them down from another device at a later date. In my case the kindle lives by the side of the bed 99% of the time. I take it with me if I know I will have time to read but sometimes I find myself somewhere unexpectedly. At which point anything I sent with the email option I can find in the library using my iphone's kindle app option, download, and the page sync will jump me to where I last was (subject to some inaccuracy because of different screen size)

I haven't used Calibre's cable method in at least 3 years.
posted by phearlez at 10:50 AM on April 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Short answer: Yes. Longer answer: I was a skeptical dead-tree loving reader for a long time, but I bought a no-frills (wi-fi only, non-touchscreen, e-ink display, no backlight, and I think the contrast/resolution aren't quite as high as the Paperwhite) Kindle last May and really love it for all of the reasons already mentioned. It performs its one function well, without internet distractions. It's lightweight, easy on the eyes, the battery lasts forever, and between the Amazon Kindle Library, my regional digital library catalog, Project Gutenberg, and the 'Send to Kindle' plugin there is no end of free or nearly free content. Even apart from the 'Send to Kindle' plugin, being able to email arbitrary content to a device-specific address is super handy.
posted by usonian at 10:57 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have an old Nook and I love the e-ink. I prefer it over a lit tablet screen. I find it much easier to read.
posted by zzazazz at 11:04 AM on April 21, 2014

I adore my Kindle Paperwhite. I almost always leave it in Airplane Mode (which saves battery) and just transfer books to it via USB by downloading them (from Amazon or wherever) and then sending them onto the device in Calibre. If necessary, Calibre will also convert them to a Kindle-appropriate format.

I was skeptical at first, but by now I much prefer it over paper books. It's just more convenient – it's lighter, and it's harder to lose your place, and you can read in the dark, and it has your whole library on it. I wish it did PDFs better, but that seems to be just an inherent limitation of current e-ink technology and the device's screen size. For actual books, it's fine.

It's useless for anything else, but that's not a problem for me. If I want to do other things, I have other tools to do them with. If I want to read a book, that's what it's for. It's awesome for that.
posted by Scientist at 11:27 AM on April 21, 2014

I have a wifi-only paperwhite. I love it for reading. It's really really good at that. However, when there's illustrations I always feel like I'm kind of missing out a little bit. This doesn't bother me enough to affect my recommendation though. I might prefer physical buttons for turning the pages, but despite phearlez's concerns, I can hold the kindle in either hand and still comfortably use my thumb to page forwards or back. The touch screen is super-handy for looking up any words I don't know (e.g., ommatophore).
posted by aubilenon at 12:08 PM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another wifi only kindle lover here. I use the send-to-kindle bookmarklet quite a bit for things I find on metafilter and the like. And my library has a surprisingly large e-lending library that I can send to my kindle unobtrusively through amazon. I rarely used the library before because it was a pain to get to from my commute, but now I usually have 3-4 library books on my kindle at one time. It's great.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:46 PM on April 21, 2014

Additionally, the Paperwhite has a few features for looking up words that the basic Kindle does not. It can not only look up words in a dictionary, but it can also translate or check Wikipedia for the phrase or words.

For the first time I my life I realized that James Bond was running towards the exit and not just randomly stopping for a salad in the middle of a chase scene.

I rarely read print anymore and just last week I was forced to read a print book for work and kept touching the words to get definitions.
posted by teleri025 at 1:46 PM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've got a Kindle 4 (I think? e-ink, with buttons), and use it all the time for articles from Feedly.

I send articles I want to read from Feedly to Instapaper (using the handy button within Feedly from the iPad app, or a browser bookmarklet from Chrome on a PC).

Instapaper then send a digest of my last 50 articles every morning to my Kindle e-mail.

It works without me touching anything, really easy and works well.

From the Kindle you can mark things as read and archive (if you're on wifi), or just fly through them back at a computer sometime.

I find the digest format really, you get a table of contents with each article in it, or you can flick between articles using left/right on the d-pad.

I'm considering getting a Paperwhite so I can read easier in the dark, even though my Kindle works fine still.
posted by chrispy108 at 2:43 PM on April 21, 2014

> James Bond was running towards the exit and not just randomly stopping for a salad in the middle of a chase scene

wait what
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:13 PM on April 21, 2014

> wait what

"Salida" means "exit" in Spanish. At least, that's my interpretation...
posted by suelac at 3:31 PM on April 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

While you're thinking about it, if you think about it for a little bit longer then Amazon might release a new paperwhite, which I imagine would give you a choice between getting that improved paperwhite, or maybe alternatively being able to get today's model slightly cheaper?
posted by anonymisc at 3:38 PM on April 21, 2014

Have a look at the Kobo readers too. Good quality, price, and not trapped in the Kindle ecosystem.
posted by Gotanda at 3:40 PM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Many of the books on my Kindle are not from Amazon, so don't worry about being restricted to getting your books from there.
posted by rtha at 3:48 PM on April 21, 2014

While you're thinking about it, if you think about it for a little bit longer then Amazon might release a new paperwhite,

--goes and looks--
Furthermore, the edges of the device will apparently include squeezable buttons that will provide some sort of haptic feedback when touched and would let users change pages.

I would strongly suggest opting paperwhite vs the nav button in this case; I did not bother to elaborate earlier, but any operation that requires entering letters (like adding a new wifi access point, or looking up a word etc) is a major pain in the ass. My button preference is strong enough to override this since I turn pages more than anything else, but a touch interface is really what's called for if there's no keyboard.
posted by phearlez at 6:43 PM on April 21, 2014

I love physical books too, but also like having an e-ink device around for "testing" new books I'm not sure I want to buy. Seconding Kobo HD readers, I like the feel of the device better.

But also seconding waiting a month or two to see if the new Kindles come out!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:27 PM on April 21, 2014

I have a Kobo Glo which I bought instead of an ipad because I wanted something that I would use to read books, not play games or waste time on the internet, because I do enough of that already. I went with Kobo over Kindle because the proprietary aspect of Kindle really annoys me mightily. It also works well with Pocket (here's an article from Pocket about how it works; I haven't actually used it).

The other points in its favour are pretty much common across ereaders: limited internet so you don't waste too much time on it; eink is a beautiful thing; backlight for reading in low-light conditions; obviously carrying around potentially hundreds of books on a small, light-weight device; you can read one-handed; highlighting, adding comments, looking up words/translating those pesky German phrases etc etc. You can borrow books from your public library (even non-Overdrive libraries if you're on Kobo).

The downside: well, it does need to be charged every so often. But it goes a long time between drinks. It is way too easy to get sucked into buying lots of ebooks because of the instant gratification and no sense of the big pile of unread ebooks stacking up. And if you really liked a book, you can't lend it to your friend. (I gather you can with Kindles, if your friend also has a Kindle and will read it within the limited lending period.)

It hasn't stopped my dead-tree-book acquisition habit or reading, but it's slowed it down somewhat. And it's shifted it somewhat, so that now the physical books I buy are because I want to have them as physical objects. The Kobo is for stuff I just want to read.
posted by Athanassiel at 3:16 AM on April 22, 2014

So, went to Best Buy yesterday and bought the wifi ad-supported Paperwhite, plus a magnetic cover. Used it to read a few pages in bed last night. So far I like it a lot — it might take me a few more uses before I declare I'm IN LURVE with it, as many of you are. But that's okay.

I still haven't quite figured out an elegant Pocket solution (got to try Calibre today), but I ADORE the teeny tiny compact size over the full-size iPad. I am so excited to be able to have a book or two with me at all times.

Thanks for the advice!
posted by Brittanie at 7:42 AM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

As several people mentioned, if you're willing to switch allegiance (or at least expand) from Pocket to Instapaper, their email-to-Kindle works very well; I use both, and just decide when saving where I want to read stuff (videos, web sites to evaluate and stuff to maybe buy go to Pocket to view in browser, long-form articles to Instapaper for the Kindle). You can even set what time of day you want them to arrive.

There are also extensions for Chrome and Firefox that can Send to Kindle.
posted by timepiece at 9:01 AM on April 22, 2014

I'll make a recommendation that you make a gmail account that is specific for Calibre use (or Calibre and throwaway stuff), because Calibre stores your password in the clear, and it allows significant access to your gmail account even if you have two factor identification on.

The forums over at Mobileread usually have fantastic advice for how to do anything you might want with Calibre and your ereader of choice. (I use a Kobo, but manage even the books I buy from Kobo [I can also buy from Amazon] through Calibre.)
posted by jeather at 10:12 AM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

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