Every Student Should Have a Kindle

Dear parents of students going back to school,

The one thing your kid needs if they are majoring in a liberal arts or social science field is a Kindle or, maybe, a Nook (I don’t have a Nook so I cannot attest to its features as I can a Kindle) and here is why.

1) The Kindle has thousands of free books. After 75 years, books lose their copyright but published versions of these books still cost money to publish, and usually a foreword is added or a special editor is brought in to write notes, and suddenly this material that should be free is no longer free and can have a hefty price tag. When I had to take survey lit courses in the past (British Literature, American Literature, etc.) I would generally skip the giant, expensive anthology and go straight for downloading the original stories that were free and using my Kindle in class. The cost of the Kindle was less than one of the multiple anthologies for class, and all the literature was free because it was over 75 years of age.

Kindle versions of these books are often free or priced much lower than their published counterparts:

Of course I used Shakespeare as an example. What other books would I be buying?
Of course I used Shakespeare as an example. What other books would I be buying?

2) Can’t shell out the cash for a Kindle device? While I do recommend the reader, specifically, for some of the special features it has for students, a student can get by with just the free app as well. That’s right, I said FREE app. This app is free on every market and can even be downloaded to a PC, or installed into your browser so you can browse Facebook in one tab and be reading Moby Dick, for free, in another. And the browser version of Kindle can also be used off-line, in case you wanted to get off of the internet and just read for a while without distractions.

This is my current downloaded reading into my Kindle browser app. As you can see, I like British literature.
This is my current downloaded reading into my Kindle browser app. As you can see, I like British literature.

3) I’m one that writes notes in my books, tabs the pages to things I like, underlines interesting passages, and generally beats up my reading material on a regular basis. While this makes me a great student because I don’t forget my notes or interesting passages within a book because I write them directly in my book, this does make for an ugly book.

I can keep up my dirty book writing, page tabbing, and passage underlining habits with a Kindle, which has all of those features standard in both the free apps and the paid-for devices. I adore being able to highlight passages, add notes, and bookmark everything interesting I’ve analysed for later. One awesome, awesome thing about the Kindle is, as a reader, you can see what other passages have been highlighted most by other readers of the same version of your book. I love being able to see what other people felt were important and figure out what motivates so many people to highlight that portion of text in the first place.

These are my actual highlights and notes from my Modern British Lit class from the book Atonement. I still have them, a year later.
These are my actual highlights and notes from my Modern British Lit class from the book Atonement. I still have them, a year later.

4) This relates to 3, but I felt it was important enough to have its own bullet point. The notes, highlights, and bookmarks I make while using one Kindle (the browser version, my Kindle Fire, or even my Kindle app on my iPod) are saved to that book so no matter where I download it or in which device I use that book in, all of the information I’ve input stays with that book.

So while I have 4 different versions of King Lear floating around my room with random notes in each from various literature courses that I need to refer to whenever writing a paper about King Lear (which is more often than one would think, really), on my Kindle I just have 1 version of King Lear in which I have started to consolidate all of these notes so I can easily find them, refer to them, and have them always, even after I lose the paper copies of the books (or lend them out and never get them back, which is generally what happens with half of the books I lose).

5) Last, but not least (in my opinion, this is actually the best feature of the Kindle) the Kindle (and this feature is one I’m not sure the Nook has) also has something extra special for English and Literature students out there. While reading a book on your Kindle device, you can click a little tab called “X-Ray” up at the top of the screen, next to where one would also bookmark a page on the Kindle, and the x-ray feature allows for readers to see how often a word is used in the whole book, per chapter, or on the single page being read. Are you wondering how many times Paul Marshall is talked about in Atonement and what chapters talk about him? Use the x-ray feature. This feature is great for writing essays or finding a specific passage you want to talk about in class.

This is what it looks like on my Kindle device, and with a chapter book, you can view the x-ray break down per-chapter as well.

So, parents and students alike, join the e-book revolution and get yourself a Kindle or Nook (after you’ve checked it out to see if it has the same features I’ve talked about above) to enhance your learning experience this Fall.

-Amanda Riggle


  1. melanienicholefigueroa

    You’re pretty damn persuasive haha. I never want to get e-books, because I feel like I am betraying the hardcovers I love so much. But I am OCD about my books and would really like to buy nice, hardcover editions of the stories I love to place on my bookshelf, so a Kindle could be an alternative solution to keeping my books in good shape and still being able to write in them at the same time.

    1. thepandabard

      I was really against e-readers for years until I got the free Kindle app, and then I liked that so much (and the access to so many free books) that I got one to use in class. After my first Kindle broke a few years after use (my fault completely for mistreating it, keeping it without a case, and tossing it around in my backpack) I went for the Kindle Fire and I really really really love e-readers now for the e capabilities.

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