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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