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Everything you need to know about Amazon Kindle readers, books, apps and more

Amazon offers a full family of Kindle devices for reading ebooks, downloaded fresh from Amazon’s online Kindle Store. They’re great for anyone who loves reading on the go, or even at home.

Of course, if you’re new to the world of Kindles, you’ll probably have lots of questions. Why buy a Kindle; can’t I just use my smartphone instead; which model is best for me; can you get free Kindle books; the list goes on and on.

Here’s our complete guide to the Kindle, to help you get started with ebooks.

Why get a Kindle?

You might have heard relatives or friends harping on about how amazing Kindles are, but should you really buy one? Let’s run you through the details.

Is a Kindle better than a book?

Some people swear that they just love the feel of a ‘proper’ paperback or hardback. We can understand that argument; a physical novel has proper weight and don’t even get us started on the amazing smell of a freshly bought book.

Of course, Kindles have so many advantages over paper books, that we’re all too happy to overlook those points.

For one, these electronic book readers are slender and light, so can be slipped into pretty much any bag as well as larger pockets. The built-in storage can hold thousands of books at once, so carrying a Kindle really is like lugging around an entire library – great news if you’re heading on an extended trip.

You also have the option of purchasing new books wherever you roam, providing you have an internet connection. These are downloaded direct onto the Kindle, so you can find new reading material wherever you roam.

Why are Kindles better than iPads and other mobile devices for reading books?

You don’t actually need a Kindle eReader to get stuck into Kindle books (and other ebooks). You can read digital books on pretty much any kind of device, including phones, tablets and laptops. All you need to download the Amazon Kindle app (from the website or via your device’s online apps store) and you’re ready to begin.

However, bear in mind that Kindle devices have a fair few advantages over a phone or tablet. For instance, the e-paper displays on a Kindle are more comfortable for those super-long reading periods. Some phones such as the OnePlus 5 now have special reading modes, so your eyes aren’t as strained, but they can’t beat a Kindle for all-day reading.

Amazon’s Kindles also enjoy much longer battery life than phones, tablets and laptops. Those mobile devices will typically die in a few hours if you’re constantly using them, while Kindles can keep going for days or even weeks.

Which Kindle should I get?

Amazon currently offers four models of Kindle to consumers. From a basic £60 model to the premium Oasis, which costs over £200, there are lots of differences between these devices.

Which Kindles are backlit, so you can read them at night without using a torch? Do all of the Kindle models have a touchscreen? What about a WiFi connection, for downloading new ebooks on the move?

Check out our in-depth which Kindle is best for me comparison review to see what Amazon eReader is your ideal reading companion.

Everything you need to know about Kindle books

Now that you’ve decided which Kindle reader to buy, you need to think about the books you’re going to read.

How do I download new Kindle books?

The main source for Kindle books is of course Amazon’s Kindle Store. You can access this on any connected device such as a laptop or smartphone, while also jumping straight in via your Kindle itself.

On your Kindle’s main menu, you’ll see a ‘Store’ icon up near the top. Tap this when you’re connected to the internet and you’ll be taken to the online shop. This offers recommendations based on past purchases, daily deals, best seller charts and the ability to search the vast Kindle catalogue for whatever you want.

Are Kindle books free?

You’ll find a lot of free Kindle books on Amazon’s store. However, the majority come at a cost, just like paperbacks or hardbacks.

Are Kindle books cheaper than paperbacks?

This very much depends. Chart books and books from well-established, popular authors often cost as much on Kindle as they do in paperback form, which is frankly ludicrous. Blame the publishers and their mighty cuts for this one.

Still, Amazon always has Daily Deals and sales on popular Kindle titles, so you can often pick them up at a discount. Plus, Amazon Prime members get free access to a growing catalogue of titles, as we’ll discuss next.

Do you get free Kindle books with Amazon Prime?

Why, yes! Prime members can enjoy unlimited access to a catalogue of books, covering all kinds of genres, for no extra cost. This is the Prime Reading scheme. So far you can find some decent titles on there, although there’s also a fair amount of dross. Check out our guide to the best Prime Reading books for our own particular favourites.

What is Kindle Unlimited?

If you burn through loads of books in no time at all, we recommend Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited scheme. This is, in basic terms, a kind of ‘Spotify for books’. Pay a small subscription fee each month and you get full access to a massive catalogue of titles, which you can read as much as you like. Hence the name.

Kindle Unlimited also gives you access to some audiobooks, although the selection is much smaller.

Check out our complete guide to Kindle Unlimited for all you need to know.

Can Kindles read books out loud?

The Kindle app for phones, tablets and computers can present ebooks in an audible format, if you’d rather listen to a novel instead of reading it – particularly useful if your sight isn’t up to the task.

Amazon’s text-to-speech feature is what you want, although it’s not available for all ebooks sadly. You can see if your book supports text-to-speech on the store page, before purchasing.

Amazon also offers the Whispersync for Voice feature, which combines the Kindle version of a novel with the Audible audiobook. You can begin reading the ebook and then pick up at the exact point where you left off with the Audible version. Over 30,000 ebooks currently support Whispersync.

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