Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Three Best Ways to Read Kindle Books

The three best ways to read Kindle books. Information and review from a long-time Kindle owner.
The author with her short-stack of Kindle readers and Fire tablets.

Most people who know me are aware of my Kindle obsession. I've had an Amazon Kindle e-reader since shortly after they first were introduced to the market in 2007 and I currently own a stack of Kindle readers and Fire tablets.

Back in 2007 it was easy to decide which Kindle to buy; there was just one model and it cost $399. But things have changed and now, with multiple models of both readers and tablets that go by the name "Kindle," it can be hard to determine which is best for you.

Maybe I can help. Let's review the various choices to determine the three best ways to read Kindle books. Hopefully this information will help you choose the device that will serve your needs the best.

The Best Way to Read Kindle Books: The Kindle Reader


In my opinion, the very best way to read a Kindle book is to use a dedicated Kindle reading device, i.e. a reader that is designed specifically for people who simply love to read books. The original 2007 e-reader, almost 10 years later, has evolved into four different models that range in price from around $80 to nearly $300. That's a huge difference in price, so it's important to understand the features of each model.

The goal of Amazon is to provide a screen that makes your brain believe you're reading a "real," paper page. Through the years, the clarity of the printed page, the resolution of the screen, and the available fonts and font sizes have improved greatly and, indeed, the screen really does mimic a high-quality paper page with its gray-scale e-ink. The size of the page itself is the same for each of the models too, six inches, a comfortable size to hold and similar to a "real" paperback book. Another feature of all the Kindle e-readers is that the pages are glare-free, again just like a real book.

The differences come in when we look at the additional features. The most obvious difference is that the screen of the bottom-of-the-line Kindle is not lit, which means that, just as with a paperback book, you can't read in the dark unless you have a separate light source. If you read with a lamp nearby or in the daylight, then there's not a problem. But if you like to read in bed or in a low-light environment, you definitely will appreciate the LED lighting that is built into the next three models. The Paperwhite has four easily-adjustable LEDs that work great in a range from very dim to somewhat bright. The Kindle Voyage has six LED lights with adaptive light sensors and the Kindle Oasis even tops that with 10 LEDs that automatically adjust the lighting to stay consistent if you move from one area to another.

Another feature that is important to me is the weight of the device. While a couple of ounces doesn't sound like much, it is much more comfortable on the hands and wrists to manipulate a lighter-weight reader. The weight really comes into count when we talk about the second best way to read Kindle books, the Amazon Fire tablets.

Second Best: Amazon Fire Tablets


Tablets are all the rage these days. The price point has dropped tremendously the last couple of years as the features and apps seem to multiple exponentially almost daily. While the dedicated Kindle reader is perfect for reading e-books that look like "real" books, Amazon's line of Fire tablets arrive ablaze with bright colors and populated with cool apps that many of us have come to depend on in our daily lives.

Since our topic today is reading books, I'll leave it up to you to explore all the apps and other features (movies, music, games, camera, etc.) available for as little as $50 (price subject to change) starting with the 7-inch Fire. If you have a smart phone you're probably familiar with how many of these features work. In fact, if you have an up-to-date smart phone that you're comfortable with and just want to add a comfortable reading capability, then I'd suggest sticking to your phone and moving on down to my third best choice for the reading app.

While we're here, though, let's talk about why you might actually want a Fire tablet for both reading and entertainment. The answer in a word is "color." If you like having colorful children's books at your fingertips, or perhaps you like comics or other heavily-illustrated books where color really does count, one of the seven, eight, or even the 10-inch Fire tablets might be a great choice for you.

I talked a lot above about the quality of the screen for reading on the Kindle Reader and mentioned the LED lighting capability of all but the low-end model. Perhaps the best part of that reading quality is that it's easy to read in any light source without glare. When we get to smart phones and tablets, we're talking about a totally different type of light which, most definitely does glare. Likely you've tried to take a picture in bright light and had a difficult (or impossible) time seeing what's on the view finder screen.  Or maybe you've tried to navigate a GPS program in bright light where, again, it's difficult to see. The bright LCD display on tablets and phones may be beautiful, and the Fire tablets have outstanding, high-definition displays, but glare definitely can be a problem. If you're reading indoors, no problem. Reading at the beach? While the function and screen layout of the "books" section on the Fire is excellent, you might wish you had a Kindle reader if you're simply in the mood for reading a good book.

Third Best: Free Kindle Reading Apps 


Keep in mind that third best doesn't mean "awful." In fact, the quality of the reading apps that Amazon supplies absolutely free to anyone, on most any device that you already own (PC, laptop, MAC, phone, tablet, etc.) is quite good. And the best part (did I mention this already?) is that the app is free. In other words, if you're looking for a totally free way to read Kindle books, the Amazon app on a device (or more than one) of your choosing is an excellent solution.

Now, don't misunderstand, this is a free way to read a book, not a way to get e-books for free. While plenty of Kindle books are available for free, where to find those is a topic for another day. For now, let me explain how to get the free app. It's easy as one, two, three:

  1. Go to the Free Kindle Reading Apps link in the Kindle store. (Full disclosure, this is an affiliate link, but I'm sending you there for the free stuff.)
  2. Fill in the box with your email or mobile number, depending on where you want the app delivered. Click "send link."
  3. Follow the directions in the email that you'll receive almost instantly to download the executable file. Run the file and watch for the reading app to appear on your screen. All of the books you've already acquired for Kindle will be accessible from the app (as will the Kindle store). Simply access and download whichever book(s) you want to read.



In Summary


First, if you have a phone, laptop, or other device that you love, and if your budget is low, go with the free reading app to read books you already have without spending any money.

Second, if you want one device that includes just about any form of entertainment you can imagine, and especially if you want to watch movies or read books in color, decide whether the 7-inch, 8-inch, or 10-inch tablet best suits your fancy (and the size of your pocket or purse). Budget plays a role here, of course. Don't skip the 7-inch tablet because it's "cheap." I have one, use it every day for apps, and it's absolutely awesome. The only place "cheap" comes into play is in the price.

Third, if you truly love reading traditional books, indoors or outdoors, and you either already have a phone with apps or you don't really care about those, then I recommend choosing the best-equipped stand-alone Kindle reader that you can afford. I use my amazing Paperwhite because it has the lighted screen, but if I had a bigger budget I would buy the top-of-the-line Kindle Oasis. I love that it's thin and lightweight and that the cover (included) automatically boosts the device's battery power.

Clearly, after all these years I still love Amazon's e-book reading gadgets and recommend any of these devices and the app without reservation.

There are a few other Kindle features that I didn't have time to discuss. The links highlighted above provide comparison charts to make it easy for you to find detailed specifications. Then if you still have questions about which is the best way for you to read Kindle books, I'll do my best to answer your questions in the comment section below.

Happy e-reading!

~Susan
Read more of my reviews.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

23 comments:

  1. A very thorough and well thought out review. I chose the Kindle Paperwhite for all of the reasons you mentioned. Lately, I've been reading books on my iPhone, also. No matter the device, the most important thing is to read.

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    1. I agree with you, RW, that the most important thing is to read. I remember when I learned that Kindle could sync the location in a book you're reading between two devices. Still think that's innovative and very cool! Thanks for stopping by with your very kind comment!

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  2. I have the Kindle app on my laptop and love that I can get a free book a month with it! So far I have not gotten a Kindle as I take my laptop on trips but it might be in my future.

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    1. Great example, Heather, of having the advantages of K-books without owning a Kindle! Yes, I wrote a few months ago about Prime reading. Such a great deal to get the free book and other offers through Prime. Glad you're taking advantage of that!

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  3. I love my Kindle and my Kindle Fire! I read my Paperwhite Kindle at night for exactly the reasons you stated. It is lightweight and lit. Thanks to you and your wonderful advice, I am also the proud owner of a Kindle Fire. I love the color feature for recipes, gardening and craft books. You will recall, I purchased it solely for the color images, but I have found I enjoy games on it too. Please, I sync it to my Kindle, so I can continue reading the same book without running to my bedroom to grab my Paperwhite. I only recently found out how to add the Kindle book app to my iPad and I am beyond thrilled by that. Thank you so much for the many years of advice and recommendations you have provided not only to me, but to all of the Review This Readers!

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    1. Cynthia, you sound as bad as I am! Well, maybe I should say as "well prepared." While one can get by with just one device, with the interests that you have it's so handy to have the multiple devices to get exactly what you need when you need it. I love generating excitement about Amazon devices and especially the Kindle!

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  4. I've been a fan of the Kindle readers since they first came out, too. Currently, I read on my Kindle Fire. I absolutely love it for all of the reasons you outlined. One of my favorite features when I use my Fire to read is the "blue" feature. I can set the device to remove the blue tones in the lighting when I'm reading at night. For some reason the brightness bothers my eyes at night, the very reason the feature was developed. I've read so much on a "reader" for so many years that when my daughter loaned me a couple of her "real books" to enjoy...I started to swipe the page like I do on my Kindle. I chuckled to myself and remembered how to actually turn a page. Great review of the options for people to choose from!

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    1. I've "swiped" real book pages, too, Bev. Love it when that happens! I'm so glad you mentioned the "Blue Shade" feature. It's a great reading feature on the Fire tablets, making reading at night much more comfortable. I was happy that Amazon actually automatically updated that feature over-the-air on my existing tablet so I didn't have to buy yet another tablet to get it. The same has been true for other updates, including the recent addition of Alexa to the tablets. Truly, Amazon wants to please their customers and they do an excellent job of it. So glad you've stuck with Kindle all these years, too!

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  5. I love my Kindles. I have three...the original reader, the first Fire and a later version of Fire that I got last year. I like all three for different reasons, but I use my Fire most of the time. I like having everything on one tablet. Thanks for a great review.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the review, Mary Beth. Yes, it certainly is convenient to have everything on one tablet, especially in a size that is easy to carry along in even a small purse. I appreciate your input!

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  6. I'm sure you recall, Susan, that I bought my Kindle Fire a couple years back based on your advice. I love it and it goes everywhere with me. I might add that if I choose to do so, I can go online with it, which comes in handy for communications with others and for games, as well as reading. I love it so much I even bought a special padded messenger bag to carry and protect it when I take it with me. Thank you again, for making a believer out of me with your knowledge and expertise of this product!

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    1. Nancy, I am thrilled that you continue to enjoy your Fire! Thanks for mentioning that you go online with yours since I didn't talk much about that above. Between apps such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, plus Amazon's very nice browser, you truly can do just about anything with it, from checking news to playing games and more. Thanks for being such a great Kindle cheerleader!

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  7. Love the apps! Still love a good hardcover of course, but can't beat the ease of the apps for many books.

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    1. Glad you enjoy the reading apps, Savvy. Making them available for free was genius marketing, in my opinion. Thanks!

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  8. Wow Susan, I did not know there were so many choices in a Kindle. Thank you for setting me on the right road. I think I need to share this article with my kids and then maybe they would get the hint. I would love my very own Kindle. Great review, thank you again.

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    1. My pleasure, Grammie O! I hope you'll share the information with your kids. Tip: Next week's upcoming Prime Day may provide some really good sale prices, and who doesn't like a sale?

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  9. I've yet to acquire a Kindle (or a tablet), but am getting closer all the time! Your review of the various choices is very helpful, as I know very little about how they work. I do plan to look into getting that app you mentioned.

    BTW, I do have one question regarding the 'lighted' Kindles. Does the device get hot with long use with the LED lighting? I sometimes read for an hour or more at a time. :) Most excellent review!

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    1. Great question about the lighting, Elf. No, these days I've been reading for hours on end and I've never, ever had a problem with anything feeling hot. Glad you asked!

      I think you'd do well to start with a free app so you can get an idea of how it all works. That might be all you need, but I'm guessing eventually you might want one of the tablets since I know that there are lots of crochet patterns in Kindle format. The illustrations in color would be the way to go for that. Try a couple of pattern books with the free app first, though, to see how well it works for you.

      I'd love to know what you try and how it works out for you!

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    2. Thanks, Susan. I will do that! Thanks for your advice.

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  10. I bought a kindle years ago because you talked so positively about them, Susan, but always thought I'd enjoy my real books better. Now, all these years later- I LOVE my kindle Fire. It's so easy to haul every where with me and I read in bed at night. My husband truly appreciates that I can make the background black and the letters white so the light from it doesn't Disturb his sleep. It also allows me to read in bed at night without my glasses because I can see the words that I can enlarge.
    Thanks for a great review. Lately I've been thinking about buying a reader so I can read outside without glare

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    1. I certainly concur about reading in bed at night without glasses. That's a huge plus for me, too. If you're going to be spending more time outdoors in the future, I think you'd absolutely love a reader with no glare. I've tested mine in many outdoor light conditions and have never come across a situation that produced glare. I do love reading on my porch! Thanks, Carol!

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  11. Susan, an excellent review and very helpful. You certainly know your technology when it comes to this stuff, and I trust your recommendations. I've never invested in an e-reader but they're such a great gift idea aren't they. I was shocked the other day when my youngest son and I were out - he asked to go to Chapters to buy a book..say whatttt ....I said, "an actual book???" he said yep, I prefer to read books than on electronics - well well well, that's shocking to hear from a 17 year old! - I'll follow your advice if I ever need to decide on the best reading device for him down the road

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    1. Barbara, it sounds like you might have a serious reader on your hands! I'd shower him in books, just to keep him reading. Then eventually, when the books start taking over the house, you can discuss moving to an e-reader. Readers are leaders! Glad you liked the review, but even happier that you have a future leader on your hands!

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