I just bought a Kindle last week. I’m a late adopter on this, I realize. After only a short time I must admit: I underestimated how much I’d love it. I wish I’d bought one years ago.

Since it launched in 2007 I understood the value of the e-ink display for reading without glare but I like to keep my life simple and thought paper books were fine. Then I got an iPad and felt like that was fine too and didn’t want an extra screen.

But I finally gave in. At $119 it’s an affordable new device. And the benefits after a few weeks of usage have surprised me. Most people know it’s better for reading at the beach and that you can now easily, lightly bring hundreds of books around with you but below I’ll bullet point the eight surprising reasons I like it:

Privacy

You can keep the book you’re reading private when you’re in public. I’m not reading anything subversive or anything but I also don’t always like advertising what I’m reading on the subway and the Kindle enables discretion.

Less Anxiety Over Selective Reading

I read a good number of books on “Biznass.” They’re inspiring. But they can also be repetitive in places. Kindles kind of lessen the guilt I have at just selectively reading chapters that seem original or interesting and skipping the bits that don’t pique my interest as much. It’s kind of like “a la carte” reading and doing what iTunes does for music — although with iTunes I guess you only pay for the songs you listen to and you can’t just buy the parts of book you like. There may be something interesting there though: only pay for what you read?

Percentage Completed > Pages In

I find page numbers can be distracting. I like seeing the percentage done, as Kindle has it. It allows you to better calculate how much more you have to read.

Cleaner, Faster Reading

The Kindle removes the unnecessary, duplicate headers found in normal print books, allows you to change the font-style and size, line-height and margins. It just lets you optimize your experience completely and, I think, fosters getting you more in the reading “zone” as a result. I think I read faster on the Kindle.

Mobility

The new Paperwhite is light! It seems easier to hold up in front of my face than a normal hard cover.

Highlight Log

I do a lot of underlining on analog, paper books. I like going through old books and seeing highlighted passages I found especially good. It’s possible I underline too much. If someone pulled out one of my favorite books from my shelf they might find how marked up the book is suspicious. Anyway, the fact that the Kindle let’s me do this with my finger and then collect all these notes in one annotated digital log for easy sharing in email or reference later is great! I am toying with writing more book reports on this blog and the Kindle would help me include relevant or favorite passages quickly.

Screen Addiction & Backlight Cleanse

Kindle seems to help curb screen addiction.  I know that seems strange since I guess the Kindle is a screen. But since it’s doesn’t have a backlight I don’t really count it. It’s really more like reading a newspaper. But it still satiates what seems like a screen addiction I have developed. I don’t smoke but I feeli like it’s something akin to Nicorette gum in this way. And that fact that this “non-screen” also just delivers info I want to consume without email or advertisement distraction is important too.

Vocabulary Builder

I love having the ability to store all words that trip you up in one place for additional study. I also had a Google document of words I’d been working on and I exported it as a .pdf then used Calibre software to convert it into .mobi format and load it up as an ebook for Kindle could understand it. Then I manually selected each one of these words to load them each into the Vocabulary Builder app. Also note: Calibre is great software. One dude, Kovid Goyal, wrote it years ago while in grad school. It somehow lets you pull in Kindle-formatted news and magazines. I also download a lot of .pdfs online and this lets you convert these .pdfs into a Kindle-acceptable .mobi format. It’s kind of like the iTunes for ebooks.

Feature Requests

The note taking feature is really basic. I am not sure what I want out of it but this is a case where note taking in a paper book or on an IPAD or computer seems easier. Then again, if the ability to use a stylus or have a keyboard or even allow for an easy way to use a Bluetooth external keyboard were added it would start to infringe on the simplicity of the device. So I am, for now, content with having to put in a little more effort to leave notes.