For readers, nothing sounds more cozy than curling up with a good book, a throw blanket, and a cup of coffee and a cookie or two within reach. Add in a warm fire, a rainy day, and just the right lamp, and we’re in reading heaven.
Or perhaps your ideal reading environment is on the beach under an umbrella, or on your back deck during a cool evening.
In any of those scenarios, we probably picture a physical book. In fact, friends have told me that they don’t like the idea of e-books because they like the feel of an actual ink-and-paper book in their hands.
I understand that. I can’t imagine reading Little Women, for instance, without my favorite old-fashioned illustrated version.
I first started using the Kindle app on my iPad mini for traveling purposes. Otherwise, I’d bring at least two, and possibly three, books with me anywhere I went. I also wanted to take advantage of the occasional Kindle sale or free book. But I never thought the Kindle app would become my main source of reading.
However, once I got used to the Kindle app and discovered many of its features, I grew to love it. When I talked with a paper-book-only friend about some of these Kindle features, she had been totally unaware of them. So I thought I’d share some of these features with you in case you had not heard of them, either. This is not a paid or affiliate post.
All of these features are on the Kindle app. I assume they are all on the Kindle device as well, but I don’t know.
By the way, I’m avoiding the term “real book.” Paper, digital and audio books are all real books.
The Kindle app:
Saves space. It’s nice to “pack” a whole library rather than trying to fit three books into my baggage when traveling. But even at home, I don’t have any space for more books. We have three full-size bookcases, one half-size, and at least three boxes of books in closets. I’ve culled books to give away several times, but my bookcases are still full. There’s no room in the house to add any more.
Adjustment of text size. The print in some books is tiny. I can set the text in the Kindle app to the size that’s best for me.
Easier to hold, especially while lying down. If you’ve ever read in bed, I’m sure you’ve experienced your book falling in your face or your hand cramping after a while.
Can be used on Apple devices as well as many Android. The iPad mini is the perfect size for me, but if you prefer reading on a regular iPad or other device, you can.
Built-in dictionary. If I come across an unfamiliar word while reading, I don’t usually take the time to stop and look it up. I get the gist of it from the context and keep going. But in the Kindle app, you can highlight the word, then a dictionary definition will pop up. I’ve gotten so used to that feature, I’ve wished it was available on everything I read online as well as in ink-and-paper books!
Translations.You can also highlight phrases in another language and get the translation instantly.
Highlighting. You can highlight passages in the book in five different colors. I usually just use the standard yellow for quotes I want to remember. But sometimes I’ve used blue for main points so I can see them at a glance.
Add notes. When you highlight a section, an icon will show up at the top that looks like a paper and pencil. You can tap that and add your own notes–like writing in the margin of a paper book.
Search function. When you tap on a page in the Kindle app, a magnifying glass icon appears at the top. You can search for a particular word or name or phase. Sometimes I forget who a particular character is, so this feature is like looking back several pages to refresh your memory. Or if I remember a snatch of a sentence but didn’t highlight it, I can look it up.
List of notes. That same list of icons that appears at the top of the page when you tap it also shows an icon that looks like page or notebook. Tap that, and you’ll see a list of all the quotes you’ve highlighted from the book as well as notes you’ve added. This is a great help to me when I just want to review the book for my own memory or when writing a review for the blog. I can tap on a highlighted quote, email it to myself, then copy and paste it into a blog post.
Kindle sales. I’ve mentioned before that I check Kindle sales from Inspired Reads and Gospel eBooks lists. Though these are Christian sites, I would not endorse everything they list. But I’ve gotten scores of books trough them. A $1.99 e-book is a great way to try an new author or stock up on books from a favorite author. Plus I get a weekly email from Iron Stream Media offering some of their books free or for 99 cents.
Advance readers or launch teams. Most authors use e-versions rather than an ink-and-paper book to send to readers who agree to review an upcoming book or serve on an author’s launch team. So having Kindle access affords you that opportunity.
Syncs to any device that supports a Kindle app. I mentioned that I usually read e-books on my iPad mini. But I have the Kindle app on my iPhone as well. So if I find myself with an unexpected wait time while I’m out, I can read a bit. It’s not as easy to read a book on a phone, but it can be done, and it’s a good way to pass the time waiting.
Whispersync. If you get the same book via Amazon for the Kindle and Audible for an audiobook, if they are set up to “Whispersync,” you can pick up with one from where you left off on the other. I don’t usually do this–I usually have one or the other. But occasionally, usually due to sales, I’ll have both. It’s nice to be able to go back and forth.
As with anything else, there are a few disadvantages to using the Kindle app. Here are a few:
- It’s harder to share books. I believe Amazon lets you share Kindle books with another person for two weeks. But it’s easier to hand them a book for however long they need it. Of course, if your friend doesn’t live near you, sharing electronically is an advantage.
- You can’t see what others are reading. I liked the idea that I was “advertising” a book by reading it in public. Or I’d see what someone else was reading and ask about it. You can’t really do that with an e-book without feeling intrusive.
- Your device needs charging. But we’re so used to charging devices, that’s not much of a hardship. Unless the power is out.
- You don’t really own Kindle books. This is the biggest disadvantage to me. If an author or publisher decides to take their books down, and they are not downloaded on your device, they’ll just disappear from your library. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen often.
- You can’t give or sell your read e-books like you can ink-and-paper books.
- If you’re trying to reduce screen time due to eye strain or other reasons, you might prefer a physical book.
By and large, I’ve found the advantages to using the Kindle app outweigh the advantages.
Do you use the Kindle or Kindle app? What do you like or dislike about it?
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Fun post/discussion! I’ve had 2 kindle fires. Last fall in Peru I downloaded the kindle app to my phone to save space. I didn’t think I’d want to read on something as small as my phone, but honestly I really like it! It’s so convenient and I don’t have to bring the Fire with me, especially when away from home. I love being able to easily take notes and yes, the dictionary is great too. My phone is android (google pixel) and it works fine there. Our library has overdrive and through that I check out ebooks directly to my kindle app. It’s so nice!
I enjoy reading on my Kindle. I also enjoy soft cover and hard cover books. The feel of the paper in my hands is special. 🙂
I don’t use the app but I love reading on my Kindle. It’s much easier for travelling and it reduces the amount of space physical books take up in my house. There are also great deals on Kindle books, though my issue is finding time to read them all!
I love both a physical book and having the Kindle app, mostly for many of the reasons you’ve listed. I don’t use the features you listed very often but I’m sure they’re useful. I haven’t actually read anything on my Kindle for a while because I use the library a lot and we have several “Little Book Libraries” close to us so it’s very easy to pick up a book. My TBR pile never seems to decrease lol.
I’m on my 4th Kindle. My husband gave me the original when it first came out — wow, how they have changed! I’ve since had a Kindle Keyboard, a Fire, and currently, a Paperwhite. I always thought it would be a supplemental source of reading, but I find it to be so very convenient that I use it almost exclusively. I can read in bed at night longer without wrestling book lights or keeping my husband up. I love the dictionary feature too!
I love my Kindle! My husband gave me an original when first available — wow, how they’ve changed. I’m now on my 4th. I thought it would be just a supplemental source for reading, but I find I use it almost exclusively now. I still love a physical book though. It’s great for nighttime reading. I seem to need more light these days. 😉. My husband can also sleep better with the dark mode on.
Barb, I was a hard sell on getting a kindle device, but my husband truly wanted to gift me one for my birthday 10 years ago, and I haven’t looked back for all the reasons you outline here! But especially the saves space feature, because I LOVE to read, this way I can go anywhere and bring as many books with me as I want, besides, who knows what I’ll feel like reading, so this way I have a library handy!
I started using the Kindle app mainly for that reason. It was so nice to have a whole library in one device! Over time I discovered some of these other features and love them.
I tried. I bought a kindle during the pandemic and never got comfortable with it. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out how to use it. Eventually it just wouldn’t work at all, went black and wouldn’t charge. A real 📕 never let me down. I feel a little bit like a failure and a little bit like an old cranky person, but I’m okay with that for now. Maybe someday I’ll try again. For now I’m pretty happy with my realia. ❤️📚❤️
I’ve never had a Kindle itself–just the app. My husband has one, but I’ve never used it. It’s not a failure not to use the app or device. I just love when people are reading, no matter how they do it. 🙂
I’ve been using a kindle since 2011 and have never turned back. I still read paper books from time to time. If a book hits me in a particular way I will occasionally purchase a hard copy to have on hand. I have used the kindle app but have difficulty reading on tablets so the kindle itself is the best way. The eye strain is not an issue with the kindle.
Because I’m reading on the kindle the highlights only show as gray. But one of the benefits of the kindle over paper books is that it is easier to find your highlights. I did not realize the “translations” option existed so I shall remember to use it the next time I find occasion to.
I accèss the kindle sales regularly and have found many titles I’m interested in that way.
Thank you for your blog. I enjoy and appreciate many of your posts.
Thanks so much, Harriet! It’s so good to hear from you. My husband has a Kindle–I should try it out. I like how my iPad mini fits in my hands, so I usually use the app there. I think there’s a way to adjust the lighting–if I did that, it was a long time ago, so I don’t remember how. 🙂
I do like being able to find my highlights easily.
Thank you for your reply. The Kindle Paperwhite has adjustable lighting (that is the device I have). The newest model is 6.8 inches. I always buy a cover for it that I can use as a stand and it is comfortable to hold in my hands. I carry it with me everywhere.
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I used to do a lot, and I mean a lot of Kindle reading, but now that blogging has taken over my time, I mainly read blog posts and hardly have any time for other reading. Some the of features you mentioned are new to me, but I will let my husband know as he’s still an avid Kindle reader.
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Thank you so much for outlining all these ways to use the Kindle app! I love physical books but you really can’t beat the Kindle for traveling. It’s nice to know how versatile the app is.
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I still love a hardback book but my Kindle is such a convenient way to read so I love them both equally for different reasons. The actual Kindle does have all these wonderful features you mention for the app. This week I downloaded an ebook on my Kindle, and the audioversion on my phone’s Kindle app–and they sync automatically with each other! I hadn’t discovered that before. So I can read awhile on my Kindle, but then switch effortlessly to listening through my phone at the exact same spot. I’m always learning new things. 🙂 Thank for sharing these!
I love that feature, too! I don’t listen to my audiobook when my husband is around so as not to disturb whatever he is watching or listening to. So it’s nice to switch to the Kindle app then–especially when it’s a can’t-put-it-down type of book.
I love the Kindle app on my phone; I have a Kindle Fire, but I prefer the one on my phone. Having all my books in one place on a device that’s already always with me is key for me. Another of my reasons is space, too. I don’t have room for a lot of books on shelves. I love your pros and cons lists for both formats!