On this blog every Tuesday and Friday I write about story techniques, structure, and/or publishing. Comments and questions are welcome. I also have a personal blog, Amy Deardon, on which I write about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy.

I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research.

My book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story, is now available in both hard-copy and e-book formats. I also coach would-be novelists and screenwriters to develop their story. YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fire and Paperwhite Kindles

It's that time of year again when Amazon offers its new Kindles for the Christmas season. The Kindles this year look like impressive upgrades of older models, and promise to continue Amazon's dominance in the e-reader field. Even though I am ambivalent about Amazon, I have to admit I couldn't imagine life now without my Kindle. Not only does this device allow me to free valuable bookshelf space, and offer me almost instant purchase of any book I might be interested in (crack cocaine for a bibliophile like me -- I really DO have to stop spending so much money), but I even have an incorporated light on the case that allows me to read anywhere whenever I like.

I started with a white Kindle 2 in May 2010, and have since owned each new iteration. My parents wanted to join the Kindle revolution with something easy to navigate (they preferred the K2's stick cursor to the Keypad's box) so I gave them my K2 and started using the Kindle Keypad. This was my favorite version. My parents then decided that they wanted a second Kindle since they fought over who could read it on trips, so bought a Kindle Touch. After a week my mom called me in frustration that she couldn't work it, so I traded my Keypad for that one. This is a trade I still regret, although the Touch is certainly fine -- I just prefer buttons to navigate. Also, the Touch case is covered with thinnest leather that was chewed by my purse within a week. I preferred my sturdy Keypad case. Oh well.

I always got a 3G connection, without ads, which is the most expensive Kindle no matter the version, but what I wanted. I prefer 3G because WiFi is dicey and limited in connection possibilities, and no ads just because the thought of these bothers me (even though I know they had good offers...). When anyone asks me about purchasing a Kindle, I always recommended that they get a case as well, any case, because it's too easy to imagine a catastrophic screen breakage from a careless bookbag placement on the floor.

So now, ta da, here is the next generation. Amazon is offering two different types of Kindle: Kindle Fire and Kindle Paperwhite.


The Kindle Fire -- this is a tablet-type device whose low price competes with the Apple ipad and others. Amazon first released the Fire (7" screen only) last September and has since sold out all of its first generation $199 devices. This new generation has four choices:

8.9" 4G Fire with 16 GB HD for $499
8.9" WiFi with 16 GB HD for $299
7" WiFi with 16 GB HD for $199
7" WiFi (8 GB) for $159

The only real difference in the Fire from the first generation, it looks like, is that there's more memory, and larger versions with 4G for one. If you can afford it 4G is the way to go because you're not dependent on WiFi limitations, but it's also pricey. Up to you.


The Kindle Paperwhite is the new iteration on the Kindle reader. Let's see, K1 came out at the end of 2007, K2 is 2nd generation (2009), Keyboard is 3rd generation (2010), Touch is 4th generation (2011), so the Paperwhite (2012) is 5th generation. The Paperwhite boasts a bright white screen. A reading light isn't necessary since this Kindle has an LED grid above the screen (no glare) with I think ten settings, that allows you to read in ambient light ranging from bright sunlight to dark room. The biggest negative is that this version doesn't have TEXT TO SPEECH which is simply wonderful. I've used TTS often on long drives, folding laundry, or knitting. I wrote to Amazon to tell them I was disappointed, although have about zero confidence that they'll care. Oh well.

The Paperwhite has four versions:

Paperwhite 3G without special offers (ads) for $199
Paperwhite 3G with special offers (ads) for $179
Paperwhite WiFi without special offers (ads) for $139
Paperwhite WiFi with special offers (ads) for $119

As with the other Kindles, there are a variety of covers. This time a lighted cover is not needed or available. (NOTE: I consider a light of some sort essential, and the integrated-light covers for older Kindle models are so convenient). Some covers for the Paperwhite fit both Paperwhite and Touch, but most don't. The Amazon default choice cover, which looks beautiful, runs $39.99.

So there you go. If you don't yet have a Kindle, I highly recommend you consider one -- the Touch is no longer available (sold out) but there are still a few Kindle WiFis with touch screen for $69 (with ads) or $89 (without ads), and lighted covers for them in black, brown, olive green, or wine purple, for $59.99. (NOTE: if you get one of these covers, wrap it in a cloth of some sort to protect it from being nicked -- I speak from experience here). There are also a few Keyboard Wifis for $139 (with ads) or $159 (without ads). Only the lighted black cover is now available, but it's not bad looking and runs $49.99.

My recommendations for Kindle e-readers:

If you're all right without TTS and can afford it, consider the full boat Paperwhite: 3G, no ads, and cover, all for $240 ($200 + $40).

If you can live with WiFi only and want TTS, you have a few more choices:

Keyboard WiFi WITHOUT special offers (ads) plus a lighted cover for $210 ($159 + $50)
touch-screen Kindle WiFi WITHOUT special offers (ads) plus a lighted cover for $150 ($90 + $60)

If you can live with WiFi only, ads, and want TTS you have more choices:

Keyboard WiFi WITH special offers (ads) plus a lighted cover for $190 ($140 + $50)
touch-screen Kindle WiFi WITH special offers (ads) plus a lighted cover for $130 ($70 + $60)

NOTE: I've heard good things about the Nook as well, and don't want you to feel I don't recommend considering them. I simply don't know much about them, since I've always had a Kindle. I know that Amazon offers more books than B&N, but also that the Kindle cannot read library and other non-Amazon ebooks (proprietary formatting, don't'cha know).

Hope this is helpful! Do you have an e-reader? What do you think of it?

1 comment:

  1. Good review, Amy, helpfully complete.
    I got my first Kindle free by participating as a judge in Amazon's yearly ABNA novel wiring contest. I gave it to my daughter, which started her on frequent sermons to convince me to buy one. I didn't see the need at the time. But eventually I bought a generation 2 with keyboard, Wi-Fi. I don't like the keyboard much, but I love the battery life.

    Now I would not be without it. It does, as you pointed out, save a lot of shelf space, me being a book lover too. I have lots. In my art-studio/writing-office I have about 6 feet by 6 feet of shelf space, plus more in the garage, and I still don't have enough room! Not nearly enough.

    I use my Kindle mainly for reading in bed at night. Course I have read so much and written so much during the day that disappointingly I often fall asleep sooner that I want.

    One thing I would like to see improved, though I don't know how, is more ease in searching for things. Part of it is my aversion at learning intricate gadget instructions, so I could probably get better at searching, but I find it easier to thumb through well-marked physical books.

    I also find having the Kindle app on my computer very handy, and I can see the color portions, very helpful with art books.

    But since I'm a retired homebody for the most part (i anticipate having my own car in about 6 months, likely) I don't need mobile reading material, to include internet, movies and color mobile very much at all. But my son-in-law has one and likes it, and my granddaughter (10) loves it. I confess to a tiny bit of occasional envy re how amazingly rapidly my grandchildren come up to speed on electronic devices. I'm not shabby myself, but I've been at it for well over 30 years. It takes them merely days!