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

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

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 gift last year, I was thrilled. Now, I’ve owned it for nearly an entire year—so, is it worth the praise after all? Read my Amazon Kindle review to find out.

(Psst: The Kindle Paperwhite was our favorite Prime Day deal last year, and we’re hoping it will be one of the best Black Friday deals this year, especially during Amazon Black Friday! Here are more Amazon Kindle Black Friday deals.) Bonus: We’ve compared all the Amazon Kindle models to help you chose the right one for your reading style and budget, too.

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, 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, you can expect to 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, Wi-Fi connectivity and a glare-free screen. It’s 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, and you can expect to get 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 almost an entire year—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.

Previously, I purchased new and used physical books—a hobby that quickly added up in both my budget and my 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 and fantasy books, but it was clunky and slow, without a touchscreen or water resistance. Seeing as eReader technology has improved by leaps and bounds 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 books, best nonfiction books and true crime 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. And 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 save so much money on books, especially since utilizing Libby, and I’m reading more books—faster—than ever. I’ve nearly doubled the number of books I’ve read in 2022 versus 2021, and the year’s not even over yet.

Pros:

  • Cost-effective: Though the Kindle is a considerable initial investment, it’s difficult to estimate just how much the reader has saved me over the past year. Previously, I purchased 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 six or eight weeks. I almost never 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 taking up space in my luggage. The Kindle slips easily into a purse or backpack, holds as many books as you’d like and always saves your spot, so you won’t have to fret 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 even show you which phrases other readers have highlighted 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 your reading speed and progress through the book, and can even predict when you’ll finish the chapter and the book. And if you have a Goodreads account, it’ll automatically update the app with your reading progress, tally up how many books you need to hit your reading goals and suggest 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 was helpful about quickly sending a new one my way for free. It’s been seven months 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, since 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 the Kindle PaperwhiteMegan Mowery/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, you can expect to pay $9.99 per month for Kindle Unlimited. Right now, you can also purchase your Kindle with the option to receive three months of free Kindle Unlimited.

How do you buy books on Kindle?

On your Kindle home screen, tap on the shopping cart button on the top right to enter the Kindle Store. There, you’ll find a mix of free books marked with the Kindle Unlimited logo, or books for purchase. When you 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 screen with the price, plus Audible format, a sample portion, a summary, customer reviews and related books.

You can’t purchase ebooks through your Amazon app, only through the Kindle Store that’s accessible via your 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 highly recommend it.”

“I feel I’m going to read a lot more using this Kindle,” writes verified purchaser Lee Zivic. “I was addicted to my phone. I like 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

While I’ve previously owned a Nook, I can’t accurately compare it 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

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 enough to take anywhere I go, comfortable enough to hold for hours and reduces eye strain thanks to adjustable brightness and warmth.

With the capacity to hold thousands of books and a weeks-long charge, it makes reading a seamless part of my life and has helped cut 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.