4 Kindle Book Hacks That Might Make You a Kindle User, Even If You Love Paper

published Oct 14, 2020
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Credit: Emma Fiala

As an English major who had to (painfully) downsize her library of books for a cross-country move and who still has a collection of favorites from childhood, I’m well acquainted with the nearly visceral response to the very mention of the idea of parting with physical books.

I have a rainbow-ordered personal library on built-ins that are the centerpiece of our living room. I love the memories they evoke upon sight. I love the excitement of picking up a new book—its heft, the feel of running my hand over the cover. I enjoy the measurable progress of a bookmark slowing slicing through the number of pages read. And I can’t resist the sound of a turned page and the way a book feels when it’s connected to my body as I take it in.

But when a like-minded friend told me years ago how much more she was able to read on her Kindle, I took the plunge myself. Maybe it’s my station in life as a mother of young children, but reading primarily on a Kindle allowed me to get back into reading after a pretty big pause.

The immediate benefits are obvious. With a Kindle (at least a backlit one like a Paperwhite), you can read in bed at night without disturbing your partner, you can bring multiple books with you at once anywhere you go, and you can maintain a minimal lifestyle by not having to physically buy or borrow every book you want to read. But there are other, less obvious book-reading intricacies that may have even the most dedicated traditionalists considering a Kindle:

1. Borrowing Books From the Library

You don’t have to buy every book you read on your Kindle. You can borrow Kindle books from the library, too. I use an app called Libby to link my library accounts to my Kindle account, making borrowing (and returning) books and simple and straightforward.

Pro tip: If your community is small, see if a friend or family member living in a larger city will let you use their library account number, so you have access to a more robust selection. For instance, I find that my Tallahassee library system does not have as wide a selection as my mom’s San Francisco Library account.

2. Underlining and Taking Notes

If you read with a pen in hand to underline the passages that move you or that you want to remember for coming back to, using a Kindle doesn’t mean giving this up. If you’ve never used a Kindle, you may not know that both the app and the dedicated e-reader allow you to highlight sections you find compelling. With a few taps, you can even share a passage through text, email, or on social media.

You can also take notes in your Kindle book. When you highlight a portion or word, you can select the option to make a note. You can even email your notes to yourself, a handy hack that allows you to catalogue your impressions—even if you’re reading a library book. Unless you re-write them, saving highlights and writing “in” books is something you can’t do with physical library books or a book you borrow from someone else. Plus, if you ever run across a word you don’t know, you can highlight it to see the definition. Brilliant!

3. Loaning Books

One of the joys of many bibliophiles is matching books with people and loaning out love-worn volumes for others to enjoy. Reading on a Kindle doesn’t necessarily preclude you from this happy-making habit. You can always share any purchased Kindle books with others in your Family Library. Occasionally, you can even lend some titles to others outside of those listed in your library.

4. Waterproof

Readers who also love a good bath have probably experienced the horror of dropping a book in the water, but owners of the newest Kindles don’t have to worry about this problem, since the device is waterproof.