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Buying a Kindle? Read This Before You Buy

Updated on November 29, 2016
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Susan got her first Kindle in 2007 and her Amazon Echo in 2015. She enjoys sharing her interest in geeky electronic devices with others.

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The author with her stack of Kindle readers and Fire tablets.
The author with her stack of Kindle readers and Fire tablets.

Welcome to your Kindle Buying Guide

Thinking of buying a new Kindle as a gift for yourself or for someone else? Smart move! Not sure where to buy a Kindle or which one to buy? Let us help you choose! Even if you're still comparing e-readers and haven't made up your mind yet, we have the information you need to know and answers to your questions about buying a Kindle.

If you're buying a reader or tablet for yourself or as a gift, we'll help you choose the best model. We'll also tell you how to buy or borrow ebooks - and where to find free ebooks. We'll offer other tips and recommendations, too, based on our experience as a long-time Kindle owner.

A new Kindle or Fire would be great surprise for a college student for school, for a frequent traveler, or for anyone who just loves to read. Any model is easy to buy as a gift and Amazon will walk you through the steps on the order page.

More questions? Keep reading to find answers. Our goal is to help make your buying experience an easy one.

Ready to Buy? Looking for a Kindle Sale?

Use this link to see which devices are on sale today.

Amazing! Look How Thin This Kindle Oasis Is

The Oasis, Thinnest Kindle Ever
The Oasis, Thinnest Kindle Ever

April 13th New Kindle Poll

Will you upgrade to the new Kindle Oasis?

See results

"Kindle" Romance with the Gift of a New Reader or Fire Tablet

Source

New Poll: September 2014

Are you shopping for a Kindle for yourself or for a gift?

See results

Check the Kindle Store Daily

You'll find Daily Deals, support, and more.

FAQ about Buying a Kindle

Get quick answers to your Kindle questions here.

Where should I buy my Kindle? While it's now available in several office and department stores, you'll find all the current Kindle models, with comparison charts and a full list of features, in the Kindle Store (link is above), which is where I recommend you buy because it's where you can expect the best customer support. Amazon has a reputation for excellent customer service and if you ever have a problem, there are trained people available to help. Plus the Amazon site has great Q&A and Kindle chat areas where you can find answers or ask your own question. On each Kindle model's page you'll see a "buy" box similar to the one pictured here. Another reason to buy directly from Amazon? When your device arrives, it will be all set up for you with any books or other items that you've already purchased. There's just nothing easier than getting started with a preregistered Kindle from Amazon, and I know that from personal experience.

Where can I get Kindle gift cards or gift certificates? To give a gift card or certificate for a Kindle, go directly to the Kindle store and look in the left margin of the page. To give Kindle books as gifts, simply choose "Give as a Gift" on any Kindle book page.

Where do I go to buy Kindle books? Once again, the Kindle store has you covered. You'll find Kindle newspapers, magazines, and blogs there too. Once you've placed the order for a Kindle reader or Fire tablet you can choose books and they'll be loaded and ready when your device is delivered to your door! Of course you can add books anytime after you have your reader.

Where do I find free Kindle books? You'll find free ebooks listed in the Kindle bookstore with the bestsellers for each category.

Is it true that Kindle doesn't come with a case? Yes, and we definitely recommend a case, cover, or sleeve for every model to best protect your investment. There's a huge selection (you guessed it) in the Kindle store. Check the customer reviews then choose something you really love. You can even design a cover yourself!

So, bottom line question, which Kindle should I buy? Bottom line answer, it depends! In my opinion, if you want to simply read books and do very little online activity, you have two choices. The simple Kindle reader is an excellent bargain and may be all you need. You'll probably want to buy a light, though, so choosing the Kindle Paperwhite (see it below) might be a better choice. In fact, this model is now a hugely popular bestseller. I have one and I love it! It costs a little bit more but is still very affordable. Your budget and whether or not you'll need a lighted screen will be the deciding factors.

Now, on to the tablets, now simply called Fire. If you want to watch movies or play games and interact with others or surf the web, that's when you need to look at the new models of the Fire (also featured below). I own a new Paperwhite for reading and now three Fires (the newest under $50 model, the original 7-inch wi-fi version, and the 8.9-inch HD 4G LTE version so I can use it on the go) and use all of them, just depending on what I want to do (read, play games, check email, watch movies). My recommendation? The newest models are faster and clearer. My prediction? You're in for an awesome treat!

There's no reason to spend more to get a better Kindle model if you don't need it. The $79 basic Kindle is an awesomely wonderful reader if that's all you need. By the way, on the models where you can choose to buy with "special offers," I recommend you do that to save a little bit of money. The ads you'll see on the screensaver are often quite good, but they're also very non-intrusive to the reading experience. Might as well save a few dollars up front and possibly save more with a special offer later.

You'll meet several members of the Kindle family of e-readers and tablets and read my reviews as you scroll down this page. Also, each of the e-reader sales pages at Amazon.com has a comparison chart to compare Kindles. That's a great place to see exact specifications for each of the models, which will help you make the best decision.

The eReader I Use Daily

Kindle Paperwhite E-reader - Black, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers
Kindle Paperwhite E-reader - Black, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers

The latest Paperwhite (which I own and use daily) is still in wi-fi only or with 3G and is still an excellent choice. Click on the picture to compare features with the new, top of the line Kindle Voyage reader. Customers love it!

 

The Latest Generation Kindle Paperwhite - With lighted screen.

This is the very popular, innovative model of the Kindle e-reader with the built-in lighted screen. A best-seller, the screen is actually lit from above, not backlit (like the color Kindle Fire or a typical tablet), so it's easy on the eyes. The latest generation model has a faster processor with quicker page turns, as well as a browsing function that allows you to flip through pages or chapters without losing your place. It's also available in your choice of either white or black. Cool!

The technology of the lighted screen makes it easy on the eyes, very important for people who love to read for hours on end.

Choose the wi-fi only version or the 3G version, which means you can buy and access books on the go. And, as is true with all the Kindle models, no contract required!

This is the Kindle I do most of my reading on, every day. Love it!

Which is the Best Kindle for Reading Outdoors?

If you'll be doing your reading outside, perhaps by the pool or even on the porch, choose one of the Kindle readers (the simple Kindle, the Paperwhite, or the Voyage) rather than a tablet. I've tested mine in bright sunlight and, it's true, there is no glare with the readers. Since the Fire tablets have a reflective screen, you will get glare and won't be able to read well except in the dimmest outdoor light.

Why Choose Kindle?

What about iPad? We'll help you choose.

If you're thinking about buying a Kindle for yourself or for a gift, you might also be wondering about the other ebook devices. Rather than a full-blown comparison of the Kindle to iPad or other tablets (many models seem to come and go), here are some reasons that you should choose Kindle over the other devices, as well as situations in which a different device might be a better choice.

The Kindle is small and lightweight. Many thousands of Kindle owners use Kindle to hold their vast library of books in order to free up space on their bookshelves and in their pockets or purses. Rather than hauling heavy books with them wherever they go, it's so simple to stow a Kindle for a trip to the doctor's office or a vacation around the world. The Kindle's light weight makes it very comfortable to hold and read, and the Pearl technology e-ink is crisp, easy to read, and comfortable for long-term reading. There's also no problem with glare when reading outside - at the beach or the bus stop.

What about a color e-reader? Kindle's content is displayed using amazingly clear e-ink Pearl technology in multiple shades of gray. For serious readers, we think you'll probably prefer one of the regular Kindle readers. But if you're looking for an e-reader and entertainment device, check out the full-color Kindle Fire tablet.

How about the iPad? The first issue with the Apple iPad is the price; expect to spend $600 and up without the monthly data plan (if you need that - and if you have an iPad, you probably do want internet access and, thus, a data plan). It's true that the iPad screen is beautiful and impressive, but the backlit screen is hard on the eyes, so not good for those who read for hours on end. An additional factor is the size and weight. If carrying a larger device is no problem, consider holding a heavier device while reading for a long period of time. If your eyesight doesn't fail you, the strength in your wrists might. It's hard to imagine that a few ounces can make that much difference, but one of the biggest complaints among iPad owners is that they get tired from holding it.

Need internet access and want one do-it-all device? Then the Kindle Fire is definitely for you!

The Kindle reader. A perfect holiday gift!
The Kindle reader. A perfect holiday gift!

The Latest Generation 6-inch Amazon Kindle Reader

An excellent choice for people who simply love to read.

Don't let the low price fool you. This is the basic Kindle model, but it's a beauty and is absolutely perfect as a dedicated e-reader. It would be great for a young reader, but with its adjustable font size it works well for older eyes, too. And the current version includes features such as the new touchscreen that makes navigation a breeze, faster page turns, and twice the storage as the previous version.

When you order you'll receive the Kindle and the USB charging cable. You'll probably want to add a case for safe-keeping and possibly a reading light.

Can I Borrow Kindle Books From the Public Library?

Yes you can! Well, probably.

Your library must participate in the lending program, but most public libraries across the country do. Books eligible for lending/borrowing are clearly marked on their Kindle product page on Amazon.

Here's How to Use Kindle Page Flip

See the Latest Edition Kindle Fire 6, 7, 8, and 10-inch Tablets Here

If you're looking for a dedicated reader, then my advice is to stick with the Paperwhite, the Voyage, or the simple (but awesome) $79 Kindle. However, if you want an amazing full-color display, movies, apps, games, music, a super-fast web browser, AND reading, then one of the Kindle Fire models would be my recommendation. If you love colorful magazines, children's books, or graphic novels, then this is the Kindle for you. Oh, you can also read regular books on the Fire, too!

Know what I like best about the Fire? No contracts and no monthly fees! (That's true with all the Kindle models, by the way.) For the Fire, I absolutely do recommend that you go with an annual subscription to Amazon Prime. That's the service that includes free 2-day shipping on all of your qualifying Amazon orders but also includes unlimited instant videos (over 10,000 movies and TV shows) and tons of music at no extra cost.

Quality on all of these is awesome (did I mention how much I love mine?). All of the current Fire tablet models are accessible from the product page linked below or any of the "Buy Now" buttons on this page.


Fire Tablet, 7" Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB - Includes Special Offers, Black
Fire Tablet, 7" Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB - Includes Special Offers, Black

This is the latest generation Fire tablet, the "cheap" one at just under 50 bucks, and I can't say enough about this. I absolutely love mine and use it daily. In fact, it's my favorite Fire tablet yet (I have two others). It's an awesome tablet for its size and a super buy, but don't overlook the other choices. You might prefer a more powerful tablet, especially if you do a lot of gaming. Storage, though, isn't a problem as this new version can hold a memory card to expand onboard storage.

The current models are all on display at the orange Buy Now link below. There's a features comparison chart on each product page, too, that's very helpful to be sure you're choosing the best tablet for your intended purpose.

My advice? Buy as much as you can afford in the size that you prefer. That sounds vague, but consider how and where you'll be using it and how you'll be carrying it. The large screen version is awesome, but the device is definitely bigger, so the 6 or 8-inch model might be a better choice for you. Buying for a child? Definitely consider the Kids Edition, worth the price for the warranty and additional features. Details and comparison on all of these tablets at the buy link below.

 

Looking for Textbooks?

Great idea and yes, Kindle does have textbooks!

Look under "Popular Features" on the Kindle store page to learn about buying or renting electronic textbooks on Kindle.

Kindle Unlimited: Recommended! Subscribe and read for free.

With a Kindle Unlimited subscription, you'll be able to borrow a large number of Kindle books (including this one that has about a bazillion excellent reviews - okay, maybe not that many) to read for free - with no due date! Membership is just $9.99 a month (with a free 30-day trial).

Many of the books available for Kindle Unlimited (and there are thousands of them) also have audio narration available, a terrific feature for those who like to listen to their books while they drive or just want to rest their eyes.

It's a great program. Full details are available on the product page of any book that's included in the program.

Who Needs a Kindle?

  • Retirees
  • Students
  • Teachers
  • Commuters
  • Game Players
  • World Travelers
  • Prolific Readers
  • Reluctant Readers
  • Stay-at-home Moms
  • Business Professionals
  • The Environmentally Conscious
  • You do!
  • Who doesn't need a Kindle?

If you've decided to buy a Kindle, you've made a fabulous choice. Tell us about it or ask a question in the comment section below.

Daisy and me with my Kindle.
Daisy and me with my Kindle.

© 2010 Susan Deppner

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    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 9 days ago from Arkansas USA

      Thomas, you are so very welcome! Enjoy your Voyage - what a great choice!

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      Thomas 9 days ago

      Thanks for the great comparison details, I just bought a Voyage after reading this!

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 11 days ago from Arkansas USA

      Hi Laila. Good for you having a daughter who loves to read! The basic $79 Kindle would be just fine for her unless you want to be sure she has a lighted screen (if she reads often in dim light) in which case I'd recommend the Paperwhite. You should be able to find many free books in the Kindle store that she would enjoy reading. Go ahead and browse through the book store (you can sort by price) to see the selection of free books. You'll probably need a credit (or debit) card to set up the account when you register the device. Perhaps you could use a prepaid credit card and provide her with a monthly book allowance and associate that card with the account so she could choose and buy a book from time to time. Wishing you both the best!

    • profile image

      Laila 12 days ago

      Hello Susan,

      I wanted to buy kindle for my daughter who has just turned thirteen and she loves reading books, which kindle would you recommend? I donot have a credit card do, i need to buy books for her online??or there are free books already downloaded?I mean do we have to by the Kindle device and then buy online ebooks?Please guide me on this regards as I know little about this device.

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 2 weeks ago from Arkansas USA

      Hi Mia. No, Kindle books can be read on any of the Kindle and/or Fire devices. Same version of the book, same exact price. Enjoy!

    • profile image

      Mia 2 weeks ago

      Hello Susan,

      To purchase books at the kindle price on amazon i have to have a kindle paperwhite or kindle instead of a fire tablet? That's my only question before I buy a device myself. . .

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 weeks ago from Arkansas USA

      E, the basic Kindle reader does not have a lighted screen so a separate light is needed to read at night or in a dark environment. Thanks for asking!

    • profile image

      5 weeks ago

      what is kindle reading light?

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 5 weeks ago from Arkansas USA

      Commence, I guess "expensive" is in the eye of the beholder. In my opinion, there's far more value in any Kindle or Fire model than meets the price tag. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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      Commence 5 weeks ago

      it is expensive

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 7 weeks ago from Arkansas USA

      Ricky, the Kindle reads electronic versions of "real" books. Amazon's goal is to make every book there is available in electronic form and they're certainly headed in that direction!

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      Ricky 7 weeks ago

      Is their a way to use the kindal for reading books too or only the internet?

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 7 weeks ago from Arkansas USA

      Tom, I'm not sure I understand the question. If it's through Amazon, you should be able to access the book on the Amazon website and enter the code at checkout. You should be able to do that with your 3G connection. On your Paperwhite home screen, look for the little cart emblem to get to the store. Hope that helps!

    • profile image

      Tom Wisconsin 7 weeks ago

      How do you download a gift book code to a kindle paper white 3g. No wifi available. Thanks.

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 2 months ago from Arkansas USA

      Judy, it's so simple I can do it! Seriously, when I bought my first Kindle I did so because I had read the procedure was easy - and it was easy, and remains so. When you open the Kindle it will walk you through connecting to your home network. Beyond that, it's very simple to buy a book either from your computer or from the device itself, then watch it arrive on your device. Don't have a home computer network? You can use a 3G network (sort of like a cell phone) and connect that way. Or you can use the cable to load the book from the computer. I'm making it sound more difficult than it is. If you have a computer network in your home, it will be super easy to get the books on your Kindle. If you don't, you can just follow the directions to upload it from your computer. Amazon is excellent in walking you through that. Hope that helps and doesn't confuse you further!

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      judy 2 months ago

      How hard is it to upload books to a kindle? We are not very computer savvy.....

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 3 months ago from Arkansas USA

      Sue, absolutely you can use the Kindle on buses. You can use it anywhere you want as long as it's charged up (and all the Kindle models hold a charge well). If you want to download books you'll need a wi-fi or internet connection (or 3G/4G), but yes, you can read it anywhere. Thanks for asking!

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      sue 3 months ago

      can i use the kindle paperwhite on buses

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 3 months ago from Arkansas USA

      Galka, I honestly don't know the answer to that. Touch screens seem to be the norm just about everywhere today (i.e. phones and computers), though, so I'd be surprised if Amazon will ever go with a non-touch screen again, though I'm sure you're not the only one who would appreciate that option. Perhaps they'll surprise us in the future. Thanks for asking!

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      Galka 3 months ago

      Hi! Is there a plan to re-release non-touch screen kindle paperwhite? it is the best and the simplest!

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