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New Amazon Kindle 3 Review – Is the Book Reader Worth the Money?

By Heather Levin

amazon kindle 3I have very few possessions that I treasure, mainly because I’m just not that attached to physical things. But without a second thought, I would put my Amazon Kindle into that very elite group of items I could not live without.

The price has come down considerably since the Kindle first came out. It’s now at, what I consider to be, an affordable $139. But many people are still wondering: is it worth the money? And perhaps even more importantly: could the Kindle save you money?

Well, the answer to that question depends on several factors.

Advantages

1. Do You Love to  Read?
If you spend a lot of your spare time reading, then investing in a Kindle might be a smart move for several reasons.

First, there are 2.5 million free books available for download on Amazon’s Kindle store, Archive.org, and other sites online.

And, these are not lousy books. You can download classics such as: Pride and Prejudice, The Invisible Man, Moby Dick, Dracula, War and Peace, and Gulliver’s Travels, all for free. The choices are truly amazing; and so many are available without spending a dime.

Of course, many people argue that you can check out these same titles for free at your local library. And this is certainly true.

But what about when it’s 9:00 at night? Or what about when there’s a snowstorm, or your kids are sick, or you simply don’t want to drive all the way to the library? The Kindle allows you to find, and download, a book within seconds.

If you take the time, the Kindle can also open you up to a world of books that you’ve never even heard of before.

For instance, I was recently browsing through Kindle’s free books and came across a book titled Letters of a Woman Homesteader.

It’s a true narrative, written by a young woman in the early 1900′s who lost her husband. In search of a way to support herself and her young daughter, she heads West to claim a homestead and start a new life. The book is her collection of letters that details the incredible challenges, and joys, she experienced starting a new life.

My library would have never had this obscure but captivating book. Finding gems like this is possible with the Kindle.

2. Do You Want to Get Rid of Clutter?
I used to have over 500 books an it was actually hard work keeping it down to that number. My books were much loved, but they took up an entire room. And every time we moved, we had to lug them around.

Thanks to the Kindle, I have learned the beauty of downsizing your home and life. My collection of paper books is down to fewer than 100 titles, and getting smaller all the time. I’ve been able to donate my books to my local library, which I know will give them a good home. As a result, my entire home library is kept in one, small place. And, I have a lot more room in my office.

3. Do You Travel?
Most people carry a book when they travel for business or vacation. But choosing that book (at least for most bibliophiles) is an agonizing process. After all, you can only choose one. Which will it be?

The Kindle eliminates that tough choice. As I said a moment ago, your entire library is on one 8.5 ounce device. No more lugging around heavy books at the airport.

4. Do You Want to Reduce Your Paper Consumption?
Did you know that one tree provides enough paper for only 116 average-sized books? It also takes 4.4 gallons of water to produce one book?

I love books. But they’re an enormous drain on our natural resources, even if you recycle. eBooks don’t require trees to be cut down, water to be used, or gas to truck them to the bookstore. They’re definitely more eco-friendly than paper books.

Disadvantages

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s really, really easy to buy books on the Kindle. With one click, you can drop $10 and have a book within seconds.

When I first bought my Kindle, I bought a lot of books. It was such a thrill to have a book I wanted with pretty much zero effort on my part! Now, however, I have much better self control. I largely download classics, which are free.

Keep in mind that with the Kindle, the temptation to spend is definitely there.

Final Word

Do you have a Kindle? If so, do you feel it’s worth the money? If not, do you think the Kindle would ever be something you’d invest in, or is it simply not worth the price?

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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  • Ben

    For me, one of the best things about the Kindle are the samples. They are normally the first couple of chapters of a book and can give you a good idea if you’ll like the book. Kept me from buying some books and convinced me to buy others.

    Ben

    • Heather Levin

      Ben, I hear you. I always download the free samples!

      • http://www.howisavemoney.net Lulu

        Me too!!!!!

  • http://cootiehog.com Jaynee

    I won a Kindle a few months ago and it has been great! I’ve mainly stuck to downloading only free books from Amazon. They have been very hit or miss. For every well-written book I’ve had to suffer through 3-4 that should never have been released to the masses. But heck – they were free. I’d have been REALLY mad had I PAID for them! Also, because they are free I don’t feel guilty if I decide to stop reading after a few chapters – I just hit “delete” and move on. I’d never do that if I paid for the book – I’d continue reading, hoping it gets better. *lol*

    I don’t know if/when the day will come that I buy a book for my Kindle. I have about 20 dead tree books that I need to read, and I also listen to audiobooks and have quite a backlog of those to get through. Add in the 70+ books I have on my Kindle, and I don’t know that I’ll NEED to buy a book any time soon! However, I like knowing that when the time comes, I’ll most likely go for an eBook over a dead tree version.

    However, I don’t see myself getting rid of my dead tree books – they are a treasure to me, and my goal is to someday own a home that can have a small room or very large wall with shelves galore on which to put ALL my books (I have many, many boxes of previously-read books in my attic). My hope is to create a complete home library – complete with an electronic “card catalog” with which to easily find any particular book I want to re-read or loan to someone. I’m salivating right now at the thought. *lol*

    • Heather Levin

      Jaynee, Congratulations on your win!

      I agree some of the free books aren’t formatted very well. But in my experience almost all the classics I’ve downloaded have been great. I’m currently reading “Life on the Mississippi” by Mark Twain (downloaded for free) and it’s just like a paid-for book.

      And I know what you mean about paper books; there are many I won’t get rid of either. They’re really special!

  • http://www.ereaderlife.com Chris

    I love my Kindle! I agree that the free samples and of course free or low price ebooks are awesome. My favorite thing about my Kindle is that I can have all my books with me when I’m on the road!

  • http://www.krantcents.com krantcents

    My wife just got one as a gift from out children. She loves it. She probably reads a book a week. She finds it extremely convenient. With the cost relatively high and the e-books close to print version, I think it is hard to justify on a purely financial basis.

    • Heather Levin

      krantcents, I know they have been creeping up. I think Penguin Publishing was the one who started the battle, because they started withholding titles unless the price went up. I think this is unfair, since their profit margin on ebooks has to be close to 100%. But as I mentioned in the review…it’s hard to beat the free books!

  • LaurenY

    I know that this is a review for the Kindle but, as an owner for a Nook, I have to say that your pros and cons are dead on and applicable to most, if not all, ereaders. I LOVE my Nook and like you have bought a lot of books. I’ll have to check out Archive.org since one of my goals this year is to read more of the classics. Besides, free books are fantastic!

  • http://www.howisavemoney.net Lulu

    I received a Kindle as a Christmas gift and I am an avid reader so I must say that it was one of the best gifts I have ever received. I was also given amazon gift cards so I could get my first set of books but I also keep adding free books so that I have things to read.

    I love my Kindle and I am now looking at the dog eared books on my bookshelf and wondering how I lived so long without a Kindle. I also put the Kindle app on my Android phone so that I can access my books when I cannot bring the Kindle along. If you read a lot it is a great investment because you can have multiple books without the clutter.

    The only ‘bad’ thing I can say about my Kindle is that I miss the feel of turning pages sometimes!!!!

  • http://www.money-and-kids.com/ Brad Castro

    I bought a Kindle last year, I think, right before the price dropped. Oh well – at least I got free shipping.

    For a few years now, I’ve also been a subscriber to Audible.com, since acquired by Amazon. Integrating the Audible audio books with the Kindle is one of my favorite features. I actually listen to more books on my Kindle than I read on it.

    I’m also very interested in the decluttering aspect you mentioned. I’m particularly interested in your experiences of getting rid of 80% of your physical library.

    Did you replace all those books with their electronic counterparts? Or is it more like a case of you know you can always download a copy if you want to re-read one of your favorites?

    • Heather Levin

      Brad, I replaced some my treasured favorites on my Kindle. My most important books, of course, I simply kept in their paper form. The books I just had sitting around because I liked them and “might” want to reread someday got donated.

      I also realized I was keeping many of these books around because their sheer number said something about me. Reading was part of my identity, and all those books proved it. Not very flattering, but the truth. Once I realized WHY I was holding on to many of those books, it was much easier to let them go. Now, I just read. I don’t feel that reading (and the collection of books) defines me. Does that make sense? :)

      • http://www.money-and-kids.com/ Brad Castro

        Thanks Heather – it actually makes a lot of sense. I think you’ve nailed my identity, too.

        I actually gave away a lot of books last year, but I’ve got a lot more to go. Seriously – when am I ever going to read Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War?

  • Debbie Williams

    If you would like a terffific resource for books, try DearReader.com You get a daily email Mon-Fri with a 5 minute read–so by Friday you have a pretty good feel for the book, and if you want to finish it. Up to you if you want to get it from your library or buy it–the site is not selling books–it was started to foster a love of reading. There are a dozen different genres of book titles to pick from, and each “daily read” is prefaced by a column written by Suzanne Beecher, the woman who runs the site. I enjoy Suzanne’s column a lot more than the book excerpt some days! Over a year, you are exposed to 52 different books that you probably never would have picked up or thumbed through. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s fun, it’s quirky (at least Suzanne is), there are give-aways, recipes, chat with the authors, etc. Lots going on at this site, and did I mention…IT’S FREE.

    Here is the welcome note from her site:

    Dear Reader,

    Tell me what type of books you like to read and each day I’ll email you a short 5-minute excerpt from a book that I’ve hand picked for you. You can enjoy my daily excerpts with your morning cup of coffee and before long I’ll have you hooked on a book.

    Each week I’ll feature different books and do fun stuff like give away aprons, books and my homemade chocolate chip cookies— I love to bake for readers.

    Thanks for reading with me. It’s so good to read with friends.

    Suzanne Beecher
    =================================================================================
    I received a Kindle this Christmas–I am way too cheap to be an early adopter. I love it, but one thing I’m really enjoying is the Scrabble game I downloaded for $2.50. No one likes to play Scrabble at my house, and it’s something I can do on the fly when I just have a few minutes to kill and don’t want to get all wrapped up in a book. Love, love, love it! (Don’t tell my husband that I am playing a very expensive Scrabble game and not reading War and Peace!)

    • Heather Levin

      Debbie, thanks for sending in that great resource. Sounds like a great way to get exposed to more books!

  • Linda

    It’s hard to say. On on hand, it’s just easier to get a book from the library, but i guess for the convenience, it might be worth it to use a Kindle. I don’t think i can really judge it unless i had one to try.

  • Pat Greenwood

    How about instructions on how to get started? Thanks.

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