How Amazon Kindle has helped me to read more books quickly and cheaply

It has been 5 months since I have started this blog and I have only been posting about my French language learning. One of the primary reasons I started this blog is to share my love of books and the immense ideas that I have gotten from the books. So, in the next few posts, I want to write about my passion of a lifetime – Books.

In this post, I want to talk about Amazon Kindle – a little about the Amazon Kindle device and a lot about the Kindle Edition books. I want to compare physical books vs Kindle books and talk about the advantages and drawbacks of Kindle books as I see them. Even if you don’t own a Kindle or never plan to buy one, read on – you will find some useful ideas here that will help you read more books at a lower cost. 

In the place where I live now (Geneva, French-speaking part of Swiss), English books are not easily available – there is only one English bookshop in Geneva, which carries very limited English books at inflated prices. So, I order most of my books at Amazon.com or at one of its international sites like Amazon France or Germany.

There are a few problems with buying physical copies of the books, some of them because of the place I live and some of them due to the nature of the physical books:

  1. The first problem is waiting time. It takes about 1 week, sometimes even 2 or 3 weeks, depending on where I order from and the speed of shipping. There are some books that I want to start reading immediately. But then I have to pay for expedited shipping, which sometimes costs much more than the cost of the books.
  2. Since it takes some time to get the books, I tend to order books in batch. About 2 years back when I was in India, I remember ordering around 15 books in one shipment. By the time I got to the 4th or 5th book in the bundle that I ordered, my priorities have changed. Hence, these books get on my to-read list and stays there for a long time. Needless to say, this makes me feel guilty for ordering too many books at once and I decide to be more prudent next time.
  3. Some books are a big disappointment and you realize it only after you read through a few chapters. But, I can’t return them easily; For most books, I would have to spend more money to return the books than the price I paid for them. Hence, these books just lie around.
  4. The best time to read books are during travel. So, when I travel, I pack a few books to read. But often, because of the tiredness associated with the travel and the waiting in the airports, my mood changes and I don’t like to read the books that I have brought along. When I went for my last vacation, I packed a lot of books just to be sure that I had different reading materials, but I left most of them untouched. I took a few French books, but my interest in French was on the decline and I wanted to take a real break. There are very few times when I have packed the right number of books and read them during travel.

Enter Kindle. And most of the problems that I had with buying physical copies have gone away. Here is how:

  1. There is no waiting time. Since I have purchased a Kindle 3G, which has a lifetime prepaid cellular connection whichever country I am in, I can immediately download books wherever I am. The 3G is not very fast, but all it takes is a few minutes for a book to download. So, as soon you want to read a book, you can start reading it. This is a very important point. When we have the books with us when our motivation and interest levels are high, there is a high chance that we will read it quickly and will retain the information for a longer time. Don’t underestimate the power of momentum here.
  2. I can buy one book at a time and I can return it if I don’t like the book for any reason.  Typically, I read the sample of the Kindle book before deciding to purchase the full book. If I am happy with the sample, I buy the full book. In some cases, the book is a disappointment even then. Amazon gives you 1 full week to return the book for any reason. Some Kindle books have quality issues. Whatever the reason may be, you can go to the Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon and click on the drop-down next to the book to return it in one week.
  3. All your Kindle books are always available with you wherever you are. The only thing  you have to remember is to keep your Kindle charged :). Amazon claims that the device can last for 1 month on a single charge if the wireless is turned off. I have found around 1 week of reading time on wireless and that is sufficient for me.
  4. There are many windows of time that you get during a typical day, which can be used to read small portions. Since Kindle is available on my iPhone, I read whenever I have to wait – for the tram to arrive, in the long queues at the café, when a meeting starts late, etc. Don’t underestimate the snowballing effect of these small windows of time – I manage to read quite a bit using these small windows of time.

I was just looking at how many books I have read in the last 2 months – about 10 full books and a few more which I am yet to finish. That’s more than 1 book per week – that was a surprise even for me.

So, try Kindle books and see whether they help you to read more and share your experience with me. Even if you don’t have Kindle device, you can use the Kindle App on iPhone, iPad, Any browser (Kindle Cloud Reader), Windows and Mac.

And before I close, I must tell you about what is not so good with Kindle. Somehow, I never get the same feeling of physical books when I read a Kindle book – I am not talking about the physical feel of the books here, but a mental one . When I flip through the paper books, I am able to form a mental image of how the chapters are laid out. When the pages scroll one by one, I never get this feeling. Add to this, the speed of turning pages in Kindle is slow. So, for the books that I really love, I order physical copies also.

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