How about both? Reading with a Kindle – one year on

In nine days Christmas will be upon us once more, where has this year gone? I don’t know about you, but I’m seriously disorganised this year, there’s still presents to buy, things to wrap and people to see through windows and at safe distances. Things are going to be different, but that’s OK.

Upon thinking of last Christmas and how things have changed, I inevitably ended up thinking about some lovely gifts people got me last year and how I need to make a point of thanking them once more for some of the things I’ve used daily. One such item was my Kindle Paperwhite.

I’ve talked about my beloved Kindle a few times on here, and it’s a frequent face on my bookstagram, it’s no secret that I adore using it. One of the most notable posts I did fangirling about it was one called five things using a Kindle taught me about reading. I wrote it within the first few months of using my Kindle as my primary media for reading and went over some of the things that surprised me when I swapped over to using it.

Seeing as it’s coming to the end of the year, I thought it’d be a good time to give you a year update on my Kindle and any my views have been shaped over the year. I wasn’t sure if a Kindle would ever be a good fit for me and I know I’m not the only one who’s had that concern after all, they’re not exactly on the cheap side of things. I’m hoping this might help out a few of you who may be waiting till the January sales to pick one up for yourself but are still a little hesitant.


How many paper books have I read?

This year I’ve only got my hands on two new paper books, everything else has been on my kindle. I was honestly shocked by this, I really thought I’d got more but no, there were only two new books added to my bookshelf this year. I did start to read one book I DNF last year, what was a hard-back book. I never finished it, it’s back on my DNF pile for the second time, but even including that book it only bumps up the number to three.

I think only picking up three paper books this year may also have something to do with the global pandemic that’s made book buying a tad more challenging. Half the time when I wonder into a bookshop without intention other than to do some window shopping, I leave with a new book. I never go in to buy anything, but I usually come out with something. With book shops being closed for months at a time I haven’t been able to just stroll in and make a few unplanned purchases.

On an evening when I wanted to get lost in a new book I could either get out my phone, go online, find my card and buy a book online to wait three days for it to arrive in the post. Or I could pick up my Kindle, go on the store and press buy and within a minute I had a new read just waiting for me. I think the pandemic has had a large impact on how much use my Kindle has been this year and I think it’ll carry on into next year as in Wales we’re going to be going into Tier 4 and book shops will be closed once again. For a global pandemic, you want to get your hands on a Kindle.

Bookshelf envy

Wasn’t expecting this one, but this year I’ve developed some serious bookshelf envy.

I miss having physical copies of the books I’ve read, I don’t get to look at them all neatly standing to attention with their spines all in colour order, I get to look at a black and white snippet of a book on a small screen. Yes, I am going to buy some physical copies of my favourite books, but that’s only going to be 4 books this year. It’s going to take a while till I build up a grand backdrop of a bookshelf so many of my peers have.

I think this may be one of the bigger reasons people don’t use Kindles as their primary source of reading, you miss out on having a physical book in your hand. Sure, I’m going to buy some physical copies, but that also means I would have brought a book twice, it’s good for supporting the author but bad for my wallet.

Accessibility

Reading on my Kindle has been far more convenient than I ever had imagined. I have dyslexia and Irlen Syndrome, two conditions that make reading a challenge for me. I’ve always got by with my tinted glasses or a reading ruler (colour overlay) but it’s never been easy and it’s no secret that I’m a very slow reader as a result. The Kindle has a grey background, text that I can make as large as I want and a font that’s designed for people with dyslexia. It’s completely altered my reading experience and it’s significantly easier for me to read on my Kindle over picking up a real book with bright pages and a font that will trigger my Irlen’s off.

Yes I miss ‘real’ books, I miss the smell, the feel of them, seeing the covers in colour, but there came a point where I had to accept that I need something different to the norm to be able to read comfortably. Having a Kindle levelled the playing field for my reading and improved the experience more than I could have possibly imagined. Yes, I’m no longer getting the traditional experience of a paper book, but it’s given me a far better reading experience in general.

The money I’ve saved

The biggest difference for me is that my Kindle was a gift, so I didn’t have to fork out for that big initial cost. Within a year I’ve saved a lot of money using the Kindle as my main method of reading. I’m currently reading Atomic Habits, a book that costs £16.99 in my local bookstore, but I paid £0.99 for it (that’s $1.34 for my American readers) in the sales. I estimate I’ve saved about £30 on books this year because of my Kindle. That doesn’t cover the cost of if I’d brought it for myself, but if I was a faster reader and read more books, I could have covered that in the money I’d saved. An estimated £30 isn’t loads for most people, but for a Uni student that’s a lot of money to work with.

Of course, I’ll need to make sure I’m still supporting my local book shops, I don’t want to lose them. I’ve made a point of buying as many Christmas presents and little gifts from them as possible to help them out. But if you can balance supporting your book shops and having a Kindle, long term you’ll save yourself some money.

Will I ever be a full-time kindle user?

That’s the real question, isn’t it? Will I ever leave physical books behind and only use my Kindle? It sure looks like I’m going that way with only picking up three physical books this year. But I don’t think I’ll ever turn my back on a good hardback.

Do I think 95% of my reading will be on my Kindle? Yes, it’s my primary method of consuming books and I can see it being that way for a long time. But nothing is going to be able to replace a physical book. Sure, I have issues with being dyslexic and having Irlen’s Syndrome, I live in a Uni room with little space, so I can’t store books, but I still like having physical books, but I still like the tactile nature of books. I’m also a bookstagramer and let’s be real, you’re never going to get as many likes with a picture of a Kindle. Physical books are so much more aesthetically pleasing so if I want to seriously grow my Instagram, I will need to get my hands on more books. I don’t think there’s any scenario where I’ll 100% turn my back on a paper book.

To conclude

If you’re a hardcore book collector who wants a pretty, visually pleasing bookshelf to show off, a Kindle may not be for you. They’ll never replace the experience of a real book. But if you can afford the initial cost of one, don’t have a lot of room for book storage and require a different reading experience due to dyslexia or another disability, I’d say go for it.

I thought I’d get bored with mine, use if for a few months then forget about it. But a year on I still use it daily and I don’t see myself putting it aside any time soon.

I don’t think it’s a case of needing to pick a side, to say one or the other. You don’t have to be team Kindle or team book; you’re allowed to enjoy both.

Cover photo: Alessia Chinazzo on Unsplash

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