Your Kindle Isn’t a Book, It’s Netflix

Once you realise that Amazon hasn’t made a book, it has made an entire library, you start to understand why Kindle is not just a new way to read. It massively expands your options, if you let it.

I’ve dabbled before. My first time was with an Elonex. It was white, had an actual keyboard rather than a touch screen, and was a protest against Amazon’s decidedly Apple approach to locking out the competition. My Elonex was a dog. But it worked with ePUB, still the only reliable open format for commercial eBooks. It was great until the novelty wore off, then I got rid of it.

I tried a Kobo. Miles ahead of the Elonex, and still an ePUB device. It was great. For a while. Then I got rid of it.

There was something missing. My Kobo stank, yes, but nothing like a real vintage hardback. It was altogether the wrong kind of stink. Just picking up a book helps me to relax, even before I open the thing. The Kobo didn’t do that. Its saving grace was the lack of a usable browser, and certainly no email. It was a touch screen tablet with zero connectivity. It was great. Until, yes… it went.

I managed quite happily for years without touching another eReader. However, as a highly bookish individual and part-time thriller writer, I felt I had to stick with eBooks for the same reason I stuck with Twitter. I needed to keep track of the kids. And I don’t mean my kids, I mean the  kids. The future readers.

In 2017, I plunged back in with the upmarket (but not top of the line) Kindle Voyage. Ho ho, I thought. The only Voyage this thing is going on is a quick one-way trip to eBay. But that’s not what happened. Because the Kindle is totally unlike its forerunners. It does not synthesise a book. It synthesises an entire library. It is the knees of the bee.

It is technically less capable than the best recent Kobo. It demands that you lock yourself into its non-ePUB ecosystem. But I had missed the trick. The reasons why I so badly wanted to avoid the Kindle turned out to be its killer feature.

If you’re a Prime member, and who in the Western world is not, you get free books. It’s called Prime Reading these days. It is better and less constrained than its parents, which went by the terrible name of KOLL: Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. It’s way, way better than that. It includes magazines and shorter works, and lets you borrow more than one at a time.

If you’re running a modern tech-friendly family, then you’ll appreciate how easy it is to share your purchases with spouse and sprogs alike. It’s not that easy to buy Kindle eBooks as gifts, but they’ll figure that out. For some reason, you can do it in the US but not in the UK. No, I really can’t understand why. Maybe nobody bothered, as you can get a gift card in far more places.

Once you have your Kindle, and any version will do, you’re into the fastlane of super speed-reading. I can read faster on the Kindle, and I can lookup words with a single press when I need to. But the real benefit is that I can have any number of books on the go at once. I used to think that would only help me when travelling, and it did help. But it’s just as useful at home.

I am reading a book about Jack the Ripper, a navy novel, a Sherlock Holmes, a book about Alexander Litvinenko, one about the countryside, some kind of chick lit I got by mistake for free, a book about the financial crisis and a spy novel. All at once! And look, no bookmarks.

When coupled with Prime, your Kindle is Netflix for readers. It’s that good. And it is rapidly becoming my favourite reading device. I keep an old hardback in a drawer for when only a sniff will do. And no, this isn’t an advertorial. It’s just that Amazon have finally got the eReader sorted. They realised it’s not about the features, it’s about the content.

Once you realise that Amazon hasn’t made a book, it has made an entire library, you start to understand why Kindle is not just a new way to read. It massively expands your options, if you let it.

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