The Kindle Paperwhite 2019 from Amazon is probably the best Kindle device to buy. It’s not the cheapest, so if you want an absolutely plain vanilla Kindle, you can still opt for the ‘All-New Kindle’. But it’s not as pricy as the Kindle Oasis 2019, and has a lot of the same features. You can even get it in a different colour—blue instead of the traditional Kindle blackish-grey colour—which is nice if you like a bit of colour.
Choosing an e-reader: What do you want it for?
One key issue in choosing a Kindle, or indeed any other e-reader, is what you want it for. At Five Books, we’re quite traditional, so we read a lot of print books, and we also read a lot of books in Oxford’s famous Bodleian Library, which we are fortunate enough to be based nearby.
What is a Kindle useful for, then? Two main things. One is if you are travelling. Especially on longer trips, it’s very hard to take enough books with you without ending up with very heavy luggage indeed. (Several hardback books can set your luggage back 10 pounds; a Kindle is under 200 grams.) Although you can often buy books locally, they may not be in the language you want or the selection may be narrow. In moments of need, a Kindle can be a lifesaver.
The other time a Kindle is useful is if you need a book in a hurry. True, Amazon Prime delivery (at least in the UK, and many parts of the US) is so speedy that you can get a print book within 24 hours, but sometimes you just need a book to curl up with (or to read for work) right this second.
In principle, a Kindle could also be useful for looking up something in a book you’ve already read (e.g. where did I read that quote about x?) Personally, we haven’t found Kindle very useful for that, and tend to use Google Books instead. On balance, looking something up in a print book still seems to be easier than on a Kindle (in our view).
If you’ve already got a Kindle but are thinking of upgrading, does the Kindle Paperwhite 2019 add anything critical?
Again, it depends what you use it for. If you just use it for reading on the train during a commute, there’s no need. If, on the other hand, you want to take it on holiday, and read it by the pool or in the bath, the new Kindle Paperwhite does have the advantage of being waterproof.
Listen to audiobooks on your Kindle
The other really nice thing about all newer Kindles (not just the Paperwhite) is that you can listen to audiobooks on them, moving seamlessly between reading and listening. It connects up with speakers, or with bluetooth headphones. (If you’re not a fan of bluetooth headphones, however, that might be a dealbreaker. Also, if you have a smartphone, listening to audiobooks via the Audible app is already easy enough: no need to invest in a new gadget.)
Is Kindle Unlimited worth it?
Last and not least, a question that’s relevant not just to the Kindle Paperwhite, but any Kindle you might own: is it worth getting Kindle Unlimited? This is a subscription service that allows you to have up to 10 books at a time on your Kindle. If you want to get another book, you can just return one of them. Kindle Unlimited only costs around $10 a month, and Amazon says it has upwards of one million books available. Unfortunately, most books recommended on Five Books aren’t included on Kindle Unlimited, whether highbrow fiction, literary nonfiction or even our thriller recommendations. Until and unless the type of books on offer broadens, there seems little reason to subscribe.