Disclosure: I work for an Amazon company and own Amazon stock. My views are biased.

Like many of us who manage a busy work-life schedule, I have very little time to read. For the last few years, I considered myself lucky if I finish a couple books in a year. Since I started doing a train commute, I bought myself a Kindle Paperwhite last year to see if having a dedicated reading device would improve my reading.

I ended up buying the Kindle Paperwhite 3G version. It costs $70 more than the Wifi-only version of the Kindle paperwhite, but the data plan has been paid for the life of the device. The data plan is supposed to work in 100+ countries, but I have not tried it outside the US. Please note that the bundled-in data plan is not applicable to personal documents like library books.

I used the device for over a year and thought I would write a long-term review.

What I Read

  • Obviously I purchase a lot of books on Amazon. The Kindle editions tend to be cheaper than than physical books – also several of the classics are free. Also if you are an Amazon prime member, you can loan a book a month from a pool of eligible books. 
  • Library books: If you live in Northern California, several of the local libraries make electronic copies of the books available via a company called Overdrive. You just need your library card to check out books. After you check out a book, you can add the book to your Kindle library with a click and Amazon will deliver the book  to your device for free.
  • Personal documents: Mainly Instapaper and PDF documents like research papers. You can email the document to a personalized* kindle.com* email address and Amazon will convert the document to the Kindle format and deliver it to the device.

What I Love About Kindle

  • Battery life: a single charge lasts weeks.
  • The e-ink screen: unlike LCD screens, there is no glare. You can read in bright sunlight.
  • The form factor: Kindle is really light and you could carry it in your back pocket. I take it almost everywhere and end up reading whenever I have some dead time (Train commutes, doctor’s appointments etc).
  • Reading experience. I love holding physical books and was skeptical if I would enjoy reading on an electronic device. I was wrong – personally I find reading on the Kindle Paperwhite to be a more immersive and enjoyable experience than reading a physical book. 
  • X-Ray and Dictionary: While reading the book, X-Ray will show the characters or terms in a page or chapter or the book and a brief description. This is very useful, for instance while reading books like Game of Thrones which have a lot of characters.
  • The apps and ecosystem. If I don’t have the Kindle device with me and want to kill a few minutes, I can open the Kindle app on my phone and start reading the book where I left off.

The Bad

While the Kindle is great for reading the typical fiction and non-fiction books, it is not that great for reading technical books which contain code or a lot of diagrams. For technical topics, I still prefer physical books. Also the e-ink technology still does not support color.

Books I read in the last year

Over the last one year, I read over 40 books on the Kindle. Some were small or medium-sized books, and some where really long books like the Game of Thrones series.  These are the books I read in the past year:

Anoopjohnson’s bookshelf: read

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
4 of 5 stars
A fun read into the culture of restaurant kitchens. Has some useful tips like “never order seafood on a Monday” because the seafood is the least fresh that day because of the way the seafood supply works in the US.
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
4 of 5 stars
Interesting book – provides a lot of data and insights. The last part is a bit too dragging – otherwise it would have been a solid 5 stars.
The Millionaire Next Door
2 of 5 stars
I did not find this book very useful. Really long advices which can be summarized in a few sentences.
Have a Little Faith: a True Story
3 of 5 stars
It was okay – not as great as Albom’s previous books like Tuesdays with Morrie.
The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich
3 of 5 stars
It was a pretty decent book – very simple, common sense advice. Most of the stuff you knew already.