Why I have a Kindle and an iPad

My Kindle Paperwhite turned up with a giant scratch on the screen. It was actually like a huge gouge in the screen, and I have no idea how it happened because I don't typically drive over my Kindle or use it for tennis practice.

I thought I could read around it, but no. Then I thought I could just use my iPad (a baby Pro) to read on, but no. This weekend I schlepped to Best Buy and forked over the money for a new Paperwhite (and then gave Amazon $15 for a case, which I've never bothered with on a Kindle). Five minutes after I got home, the twin Kindle was up and running just like the old one, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

But I feel somehow guilty about having a duplicate gadget. How many tablet-like items does one person reasonably need (David Sparks, I'm looking at you!)? At least I bought a several-generations-old Kindle and didn't spend $300 for the Oasis, I guess. I'm writing this post to justify why I am engaging in anti–clutter reduction.

Reasons to have a Kindle even if you have an iPad:

  • Size. I don't realize I'm holding a Kindle. The Paperwhite is itty-bitty. It slips easily into my purse and doesn't drag down my shoulder, and I can hold it up to read in bed without my hands going to sleep and without needing to prop it up with a pillow. If I fall asleep while I'm reading, I can drop it on my head without risking waking up or sustaining a concussion.
  • Screen. Kindle screens don't give me a headache. I don't think they look as sharp and snappy as Amazon claims; I'd much rather stare at my crystal-clear iPad, in theory, but in practice I haven't yet experienced a headache or eye strain with a Kindle, and I read a lot, lot. iPads start making me want to take a break after an hour or so despite what I try with the brightness and so on.
  • Battery. The Kindle batteries really do last weeks. iPad batteries are no slouches, for what they're powering, but I can run down my iPad to nearly nothing on a weekend when I'm plowing through some reading, in a single day. And THEN how am I going to check Facebook?
  • Single tasking. Which brings up my next point. The only thing I can do on a Kindle is read, whereas with my iPad, despite my best intentions, I respond to those banner notifications sliding across the top of the screen. I CAN'T HELP MYSELF. Then an hour later I'm still watching guilty dog videos on YouTube. Reading on a Kindle is more relaxing for me because it gives me a break from constant connection.

I used to like the Kindle Owner's Lending Library benefit, which let Kindle owners borrow a book a month for free. Amazon seems to have replaced that with Prime Reading Eligible books, which lets Amazon Prime members read eligible books for free. So now you no longer have to own an actual Kindle to read books for free (the iOS and Android apps will work), but you do have to be a Prime member, which I am.

Amazon isn't what I'd call transparent with all these benefits. They kind of introduce them and switch them around in confusing ways. They also have the Kindle Unlimited program, because no company can live with itself nowadays without having Yet Another Subscription Program. With this subscription you pay $9.99 per month and get all-you-can-read Kindle books, as long as the books are Kindle Unlimited eligible. And there's the rub. If I want to read a book, it's a specific book that I have to hope is eligible. If I were a reader who could happily browse known Kindle Unlimited books and be happy with those, it would be a great deal for me.

Anyway, none of that is tied to owning an actual Kindle anymore, like it used to be. This is good and bad. Before, if you didn't own a Kindle device, the Lending Library was not available to you. Now, if you don't have Amazon Prime, Prime Reading isn't. Either way you had to buy an Amazon device or service, I guess.

I do read some stuff on my iPad, of course. iBooks, obviously. PDFs. Web clippings. RSS feeds (yes, they still exist, and so do people who read them). eBook formats that don't work on Kindle. If you aren't in the Amazon ecosystem, a Kindle is useless, but I've been buying Kindle books for like a decade now and have a zillion of them.

It works for me. I guess I'll keep on living in an extraneous-device household. Anyone else out there sporting another tablet and a Kindle? Why?