Amazon Kindle Review: I Tried the Kindle Paperwhite and It Changed How I Read Forever

Our Senior Shopping Editor doubled the number of books she reads in a year thanks to the Kindle Paperwhite.

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As a lifelong reader, I can’t count how much money I’ve spent on the best books through the years—but still, splurging on a Kindle Paperwhite seemed like a big step. So when I received one as a Christmas gift, I was thrilled. Now that I’ve owned it for nearly a year and a half, is it worth the praise after all? Read my Amazon Kindle review to find out.

Bonus: We’ve compared all the Amazon Kindle models to help you chose the right one for your reading style and budget, too.

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What is the Kindle Paperwhite?

The Amazon Kindle is an eReader, which allows users to purchase, download and read books straight from the device. It comes in six versions, from a kid-friendly reader to the premium Kindle Oasis to the Paperwhite Signature Edition, which offers wireless charging. The version I’ve owned for the past year and a half, though, is the Paperwhite Generation 11.

If you think about the Kindle Paperwhite in terms of cookies, it’s like a homemade chocolate chip. Not a fancy Levain Bakery cookie, but also not a freeze-and-bake. It’s an accessible, middle-of-the-road option that’ll appeal to just about everyone.

Kindle Paperwhite product features

The Kindle Paperwhite offers either eight or 16 gigabytes (GB) of storage capacity in a slim, lightweight 6.8-inch display. Since ebooks require such a small amount of storage space, readers can download thousands of books without ever hitting the storage maximum.

The Kindle also features adjustable screen brightness and warmth, airplane mode, dark mode, parental controls and Wi-Fi connectivity. The glare-free screen is designed to look and read like real paper. And since it’s waterproof, you can read in the bath or pool without worry. It charges with a simple USB-C port with around 10 weeks of use on a single charge.

Not only can you purchase books through the Kindle marketplace, but you also can also access a wide library of free Kindle Unlimited books with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. It also pairs with Amazon’s Audible service, so you can listen to family audiobooks and other audiobooks hands-free.

How we tested it

Kindle Paperwhite on a table with a candle, mini white pumpkin and a cup of coffee, viewed from aboveMegan Mowery/RD.com

I’ve owned the Kindle Paperwhite for a year and a half—since Christmas 2021—and I’ve used it nearly every day since. It practically never leaves my side, traveling with me from beach vacations to road trips to my nightly reading in bed under my cooling blankets.

I used to purchase physical books—a hobby that quickly added up in both my budget and storage space. They were also bulky, difficult to travel with and generally single-use. By comparison, the Kindle easily slips into my purse, carries dozens of books at a time and proves cost-effective.

This isn’t my first time using an eReader, however. One of the Christmas gifts for kids I received was a Barnes & Noble Nook, which I owned from middle school through high school until it finally died. It was a good device for reading books for teens, but it was clunky and slow, without a touchscreen or water resistance. Seeing as eReader technology has improved so much since 2014, however, the new-and-improved Kindle Paperwhite has proved a much different experience.

My Paperwhite came with a three-month subscription to Kindle Unlimited, and I was gifted another year’s subscription, which I’ve used to download dozens of free books, including some of the best fiction and best nonfiction books.

I’ve also purchased a few ebooks and connected my Kindle to my local library through Libby to borrow ebooks for free, no visit to the library necessary. When I do purchase ebooks, they often come with credits that I can use to discount my next ebook purchase.

I can honestly say that the Paperwhite has changed how I read. I’m saving so much money on books, especially since utilizing Libby, and I’m reading more books—faster—than ever. I nearly doubled the number of books I read in 2022 versus 2021, and I’ve only picked up my pace halfway into 2023.

Highlights

Pros

  • Cost-effective: Though the Kindle is a considerable initial investment, I can’t estimate just how much the reader has saved me over the past year. I used to purchase a new book every couple of weeks. Now, I almost exclusively download ebooks free through Kindle Unlimited or borrow them from Libby. I can say with certainty that the Kindle has paid for itself many times over.
  • Huge storage space: My 8 GB Paperwhite contains more storage space than I’ll ever need. Since I mainly rent books, storage isn’t even a consideration. But if I owned books instead, I wouldn’t run out of storage for years, even with my book-every-few-days pace.
  • Impressive battery life: I use my Kindle for approximately two hours per day, and charge it every four to six weeks. I almost never need to travel with the charger, making traveling even easier since there’s no annoying cable to worry about.
  • Travels well: Traveling with one thin, lightweight device is infinitely easier than with a half dozen thick physical books. The Kindle slips easily into any bag, holds lots of books at once and always saves your spot (no more fretting over missing bookmarks).
  • Easy operation: It’s ridiculously easy to operate, especially in an age of complicated technology. Adjusting the screen’s brightness and warmth proves useful when transitioning from outdoor reading to indoor. Accessing new books means simply tapping the button that opens the Kindle Store.
  • Fun features: You can highlight quotes from books that speak to you, and the Kindle will compile them into an easy-to-access document of all your favorites across books. It’ll also show you which phrases other readers highlight in the book you’re reading. Plus, highlighting a word will bring up its definition, no thumbing through a dictionary necessary.
  • Tracks reading progress: The device tracks reading speed and progress through the book. It even predicts when you’ll finish the chapter and the book. And with a Goodreads account, the app automatically updates with your reading progress, tallies up how many books are needed to hit reading goals and suggests the highest-rated books on Goodreads. With the Goodreads app, you can even see what your online book club is reading and stay up to date.
  • Customer support: A few months into owning my Paperwhite, it became permanently stuck on a screensaver and effectively died. While it wasn’t the best user experience, the Amazon customer support team quickly sent a new one my way for free. It’s been about a year with the replacement Kindle and I haven’t had any issues.

Cons

  • Ads: The Paperwhite’s idle screen displays ads for other books, though you can pay extra to own a Kindle with ads disabled. I don’t find the ads distracting, though. They’re only shown on the lock screen and usually advertise other books I might be interested in based on my reading habits.
  • Book prices: Ebooks can often be just as pricey as physical books, so those looking to own books may not find as much value in ebooks, and may benefit from a book subscription box instead. With Kindle Unlimited and library renting, however, it’s easy to read with virtually no extra costs.
  • Free options: I’ve found Kindle Unlimited’s variety of free books to be lacking, and the Kindle Unlimited Store isn’t as user-friendly as I’d like. However, it’s easy to find free books you like with a little digging.

FAQ

hand holding a kindle paper whiteMegan Mowey/RD.com

What is Kindle Unlimited?

Kindle Unlimited is a subscription that gives you access to a library of ebooks, like borrowing from an actual library but without due dates or late fees. In addition to books, you can also borrow magazines. You’re capped at 20 titles at a time, but that’s far more than you can typically borrow from virtual libraries.

How much is Kindle Unlimited?

After a 30-day free trial, expect to pay $9.99 per month for Kindle Unlimited. Right now, you can also purchase a Kindle with the option to receive three months of free Kindle Unlimited.

How do you buy books on Kindle?

On the Kindle home screen, tap on the shopping cart button on the top right to enter the Kindle Store. There will be a mix of free books with the Kindle Unlimited logo, or books for purchase. Find one you’d like to buy—whether it’s one of the best thriller books, the scariest books or something a little tamer—click on it and you’ll be directed to a new page. You’ll see the price, plus Audible format, a sample portion, a summary, customer reviews and related books.

You can’t purchase ebooks through the Amazon app, only through the Kindle Store that’s accessible via a Kindle device.

What other reviewers had to say

“This Kindle is quite possibly the best purchase I’ve ever made,” writes verified purchaser ChelseaReads, who finds the Paperwhite to be nearly pocket-sized, comfortable to hold and free of eye strain. “If you are a super bookworm like me, or are just trying to finish a whole book for the first time, I highly recommend this device for purchase. I think it was worth the money a thousand times over.”

“I have used Nook eReaders over the years,” writes Allen D. Reinecke. “At 6.8 inches, the Kindle screen is larger than I’ve been used to, but that screen makes reading more pleasant and more like a real book. The light weight and minimal thickness are really nice for holding for long durations. Loving my new Kindle Paperwhite 11th generation! It will keep me entertained and educated for a long, long time.”

“I feel I’m going to read a lot more using this Kindle,” writes verified purchaser Lee Zivic. “I was addicted to my phone [and] technology. Now I have fun with this instead, yet it’s a better and healthier addiction. It’s like watching TV, only for my mind. Thanks, Amazon, for this.”

Product comparison

I can’t accurately compare the Nook to the Kindle because the model I owned is so outdated now. But there are many sister devices within the Kindle line, each with its own subtleties and specialties.

The original Kindle is the most budget-friendly option at just $100, with a six-inch screen, 16 GB capacity and a four-LED screen. The Paperwhite Signature Edition is a more expensive option at $190, but offers a 6.8-inch screen, 32 GB of storage, 17-LED screen, auto-adjusting light and wireless charging.

The top-of-the-line Kindle Oasis tops out at $250, or $280 with ads disabled and 32 GB memory. Its screen is slightly larger at seven inches, an impressive 25-LED screen, rotating page orientation, page turn buttons and free cellular connectivity for when WiFi isn’t an option.

By comparison, the Kindle Paperwhite—the device I own—starts at $140 and costs up to $170 with ads disabled and an expanded 16 GB capacity. It offers a 17-LED screen, waterproof design, adjustable warm light and standard WiFi connectivity.

Kindle Kids and Kindle Paperwhite Kids are also options at $120 and $160, respectively. Both models come in fun, kid-friendly colors, plus offer a two-year worry-free guarantee and parental controls.

Final verdict after more than a year and a half of use

I’ve had the Kindle since Christmas 2021, so about a year and a half. I still love it! The Kindle Paperwhite has completely changed how I read. I’m reading more books, at a quicker pace, for cheaper than ever before. It’s light and small, comfortable enough to hold for hours and reduces eye strain thanks to adjustable brightness and warmth.

It’s also held up the same since I first wrote my review—battery life and storage space are still strong. I won’t be running out of storage space anytime soon! I use it every day and only have to charge every four to six weeks or so. I’m also maintaining a fast reading pace. I’m still reading about a book a week, almost four times my pace before I owned the Kindle.

It’s so convenient, and I’ve taken it dozens of places since writing the review. It makes reading a seamless part of my life, even cutting down my screen time on social media and TV. I haven’t loved reading this much since I was a kid—and for that I’m grateful.

Where to buy the Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhitevia merchant

Shop the Kindle Paperwhite on Amazon, where you’ll receive three free months of Kindle Unlimited with your purchase. You can also save a bit on your Kindle by purchasing a refurbished device instead of a brand-new one. Or, shop the Paperwhite at Target or Best Buy.

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Megan Mowery
As Senior Shopping Editor, Megan is an expert at helping Reader’s Digest readers find products that will improve their lives. She covers anything from must-buy Amazon products to tried-and-tested product reviews. You can usually find her online shopping, learning a new craft, or caring for her jungle of plants.