So let’s get this out of the way – this is not to bash e-books or e-readers. I love e-books, pretty much most of the books I’ve read during lockdown are electronic and frankly the whole e-book debate is tired. No, this Black Friday, I want to continue my conversation about quitting Amazon and today I want to talk about Kindles.
In Part 1 of this mini series, I spoke about alternative places to buy books online, but that does not necessarily include the complications of e-books and Kindles. I’m going to break it down by what kind of e-book reader you are, because there are a few solutions to this problem!
You Read E-Books on Your Phone or Tablet
This is the easiest option – just don’t buy your e-books from Amazon. Keep all the books you have and buy your future books from Google Play, Apple, Kobo or websites such as Hive.co.uk.
You Don’t Own an E-Reader and You Want to Buy One
Although there aren’t a ton of brands making e-readers, there are a few alternatives out there including, Sony’s e-readers and, if you’re in the States, Barnes and Noble’s Nook. However, the other big player I want to recommend is Kobo. They’re owned by a company called Rakuten, and from what I can tell have better ethics than Amazon (though, it has to be said, the bar is really low).
I have been using Kobo in one form or another for the past 7 years. I bought my first Kobo in uni to read free, out of copyright books for my course. Post uni, I got into reading e-books properly and then lost said Kobo on the tube (RIP Kobo Touch with the little blue bicycle case). I then used the Kobo app.
The Kobo app is user-friendly, I’ve never had trouble finding a book on it and 99% of the time, the prices match Amazon’s prices. This year, for my birthday, my sister bought me a Kobo Clara HD and it has changed my reading life.
The Kobo Clara has the same size screen (6 inches) as a standard Kindle, it’s lightweight, it’s speedy and I went a whole month before I charged it. It also has an adjustable backlight which is really useful in the dark winter mornings when the sun isn’t quite up. The most exciting thing is that you can sign into OverDrive on your Kobo and sync up your library books which I believe is a feature across all of their e-readers. (This has really changed the game as my library has not been open since March!)
I love my Kobo and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a reliable Amazon alternative.
You Own a Kindle but You Don’t Want to Support Amazon Anymore
Apart from the various and numerous reasons to dislike Amazon, they are also a company that require a completely different file type to work on their devices. So you either buy your e-books from Amazon or you can’t read them on your Kindle. Well, not quite. When I was at uni, though I had a Kobo, sometimes I would buy the occasional e-book from Amazon. This is where Calibre comes in.
Calibre is a free, open source e-book management software. It’s designed to really easily look at all the books that you own (on a computer) and put them onto your device. It also converts e-books meaning you can buy your books elsewhere, download them to your computer and upload them back to your Kindle in the correct format. It looks a bit dated, but it works.
This is a good option for if you want to buy your future books from another company but carry on using your Kindle or, if you want to upgrade to a different device but don’t want to lose all of your Kindle books too.
I hope you consider Kindle alternatives when it comes to reading e-books, I understand the appeal of Kindles (ease, price, Kindle unlimited) but that’s how they get us! It takes more effort to make the ethical choice, but I hope to provide some options today.
Let me know in the comments if you are one of those rare people who doesn’t read e-books on a Kindle!