Kindle Paperwhite Review

First of all the name seems as horrible as iPad used to seem (remember?) because of course you are going to call it a “paperweight.” So I began ridiculing the product even before it arrived.

Name: 2 Stars


When my Kindle Paperwhite finally came (I waited about a month), it came, ironically, in a black box. Amazon has taken a cue from Roku, Apple, and others who make box opening part of what they call the “user experience.” (I just call it life.) I know this is manipulative because, of course, what do I really care what the box looks like? Still, I am a total sucker for this kind of thing. I think it’s a genius move to make opening the box “special.” Now I’m stuck with a strange box, though. I could use it to wrap up Xmas gifts, I guess. But then the giftee would think they were getting a Kindle and be disappointed by the slightly burnt Xmas cookies the box actually contained.

Box: 5 Stars

Kindle in the box.

Here’s the very best part of my “user experience” / life with the Kindle. When I took it out of the box the Kindle appeared to have a clear plastic covering of the sort you find on your new iPhone. Upon inspection (i.e. trying to lift off the plastic sheet with my fingernail) it turned out that this was the actual screen in sleep mode. It still kind of freaks me out. It’s very very cool how sharp the resolution of the screen is and also how the screen feels course or matted rather than smooth and reflective like an iPhone screen. After attempting to remove the Kindle screen because I thought it was a physical object (and in doing this I felt a bit like my dog must feel when he barks at the TV) I had to admit it: this thing is amazing. It’s practically like paper!

Screen: 5 stars

Dog vs. Pig
Dog vs. Pig

The Kindle feature that made me finally take the plunge: the Kindle Lending Library. I’m the sort of guy who reads a lot of things in the public domain: 19th Century novels, mostly, and other things of that nature that I expect to be able to get out of the library or pay, perhaps, a dollar for at a used book store. So what a killer feature: I would be able to borrow this type of book for free on my Kindle! A library! Of books!

Except that it is not a library. Read the fine print.

The first thing I did on the kindle store was to try out the lending library. I downloaded a book of links to free sci-fi novels on Amazon Prime (yes, I took that plunge too!) Why would somebody pay money for a book of links? I don’t know. Doesn’t Amazon have an easy way of navigating it’s free content? (Answer: No.) I perused the links a bit and then returned the book. When I went to borrow my next book the button for downloading into my library was grayed-out and unusable. I had failed to read the fine print: in Amazon’s “library” you can only borrow one book a month. God, I’m such a sucker.

When someone uses the word “library” I have a network of associations with that word — hot librarians, shelves full of books for the taking, smelly bathrooms, free wifi, etc. What I don’t think of is a place that allows you to check out one book a month, even if you only had that book for a grand total of twenty minutes. Ugh. What a sucker I was!

Amazon is besmirching the word library. They must be stopped.

Kindle Library: Negative One Million Stars (Until they call it “one free book a month out of a selection of mostly unpopular books” instead of a “library”.)

P.S. — There is still free content that is non-library related. I downloaded Thomas Hardy for free. Other books, such as Middlemarch, are available for $.99. So that’s cool. It’s just not a library.

Actual Library
Actual Library: Have a book!

Yes, the Kindle is just another money suck. If I had known that going in, rather than being duped by their “library,” I would not feel so burned. I am in the process of re-calibrating my expectations. As such, I have begun reading a book on the Kindle (Spillover by David Quanmen). Each day my score for the device crawls a little bit higher out of the dumps. After all, it did have a cool box!

Total Score: 4 stars (with lowered expectations)

Note: I have a book coming out in Dec/Jan. It will be Kindle only — so buy your Kindles now!




4 thoughts on “Kindle Paperwhite Review

  1. Entertaining, helpful review. I returned the Kindle Fire HD I received as a bday gift last month. Had the exact same experience with the “library” that you describe. Sadly, I was stuck with Penny Marshall’s autobiography. Yes, Laverne was hugely important to my pre-pubescent identity development but I just wanted to thumb thru a couple pages of Marshall’s book. That was all.

    I am intrigued by your description of the matte finish of the Paperwhite’s screen.

  2. The Kindle Paperwhite is only a book reader, unlike the Fire (which is a multi-media player). So the screen is optimized for reading. It is nearly paper quality.

  3. I had similar expectations with the library thing. I knew about the one book a month thing but assumed all kindle books were lendable. Nope! The publishers can opt out and usually do. Such a bummer. I’ve been thinking of joining the third-party site for awhile since it seems to be more what I’m looking for (and what you may be looking for too) but I’ve yet to bother signing up for an account.

  4. Turns out that my local library is very good at lending Kindle eBooks. Of course — should have consulted them first and avoided feeling burnt by Amazon’s “lending library.”

Comments are closed.