I was slow to jump on the e-reader bandwagon. When reading books on handheld battery-powered devices became a thing, I had already graduated college and was plenty old enough to be set in my curmudgeonly ways.

Among my objections were some valid issues: for one, I've always liked books as physical artifacts, the varying fonts and page thicknesses, even the scents of the ink making each reading experience unique. I'm also a collector from way back, and I struggled to see how filling a virtual bookshelf (essentially a glorified list) could scratch that itch. And I was certain to be wary of anything that eliminated the need to browse bookstores, one of my all-time favorite pastimes ever since Waldenbooks in the mall was reigning purveyor of all the Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins books my heart desired.

Then I met and married an engineer, and he slowly chipped away at my resolve until our first anniversary in 2011, when I received a Kindle Keyboard alongside my flowers and cute-animal-photo greeting card. (Marry someone who loves technology, and you will be shocked at all the techie gadgets you never knew you needed until you found yourself their co-owner. Case in point: we recently got an Amazon Echo, a product I had never heard of and could see absolutely no practical use for, and now I walk around our house periodically yelling “ALEXA!” and asking inane questions just for the company.)

After a test drive, I had to admit my fancy new e-reader brought with it some amazing perks. I could read really long books without making my wrists ache (that was during my Game of Thrones phase, when I read well into book five before collapsing in exhaustion). If I wanted to read a particular book, I could purchase it, download it, and be well into the first chapter inside of five minutes. Although repeated smell tests always brought disappointment (my e-reader never smelled deliciously musty like paper books do; it only offered a leathery musk thanks to the case I'd picked out), what the Kindle lacked in aesthetic appeal it more than made up for in instant gratification.

Eventually I established a comfortable truce between my e-reader and my paper books: I would choose which to read based on my mood, cash flow, and title availability. If there was a book I was eager to read that had a long hold list at the library, I'd buy an e-book version. If my stash of gift cards was running low and I was feeling thrifty, I'd pick out a library book or pluck one of my many unread paperbacks off the shelf in the basement. (Of course libraries are improving their digital offerings all the time, so nowadays there's a lot more overlap here than there once was.) My e-reader didn't fundamentally change how I read, and it didn't prevent me from buying or borrowing physical copies, but it did add an element of convenience and efficiency that I found pleasing.

Fast-forward to a week ago, and my trusty Kindle Keyboard had lost a bit of its shine. I secretly wanted to replace it, but I have a hard time getting rid of old appliances and electronics unless they straight-up stop working. (Exhibit A: our dishwasher, which, when in the full throes of a cycle, generates such a deafening din it brings to mind the surface of an aircraft carrier on a busy day, yet so reliably cleans our spoons and drinking glasses I can't justify replacing it, even if I do have to leave the room when it's running to take a phone call.) And darned if that three-and-a-half-year-old Kindle wasn't chugging away just as it always had.

Then I made the mistake of researching the Kindle Voyage, “just to see what it's like,” and then Valentine's Day was approaching, and you can probably guess the rest. I took a page out of Tom and Donna's “Treat Yo' Self” playbook and decided the Voyage would be mine.


For the nerd-types who are interested, and for anyone who's in the market for an e-reader upgrade, here are some of my thoughts on the Voyage and how it compares to my old device:


This was one of my biggest priorities. I'm (ahem) getting older and I've worn Coke-bottle glasses since first grade, so reading in low light is not something I'm keen on. One of the biggest annoyances about my old Kindle was how dependent I was on external lighting. Especially after sunset, there were only a couple spots in the house with sufficient light to read by. So if I wanted to be social and, you know, actually spend time with my husband, typically I'd find myself sitting somewhere with low enough lighting that reading wasn't possible. (Hindsight tells me I could have invested in a case with a built-in light, but I've heard mixed reviews on those anyway, so eh.) I absolutely love the backlight on the Voyage and have found the auto-adjust feature works without a hitch. I can walk from a brightly lit window into a dark room without pausing in my reading at all. And I can confirm that just like older generation Kindles, the Voyage is perfectly readable even in bright sunlight, as I read outside for an hour without a problem on an unseasonably warm day we had.

Page-turn buttons.

One of the main reasons I didn't want a Kindle Paperwhite was the lack of side buttons for turning pages. I like touch screens as much as the next gal, but I was used to my old Kindle with physical buttons and didn't think tapping would be as comfortable (plus, screen smudges drive me bonkers, just to give you a little window into my weird, obsessive head). The page-turn buttons on the Voyage work great, and they give you a little buzz of haptic feedback with each press. I was nervous the buzzing would be distracting, but I set it to low and it's been fine. I also set the pressure required for a page turn to the lowest possible setting, which at least for me minimizes distraction and keeps me focused on the book. I can turn pages with only a slight movement, which is awesome.

Screen resolution.

This is getting a bit outside my wheelhouse, but I can say as a technological layperson that I could tell a remarkable difference in clarity and sharpness between my Voyage and my old Kindle. I had always been a little bummed at how often I had to turn pages on my old Kindle—I'm a pretty fast reader, and it seemed I was turning pages every five seconds. At the time I just thought the screen needed to be bigger (shout-out to the DX users!), but that's not the case at all. The screen on my Voyage is very close in size, but I can set the font size significantly smaller because the resolution is so much better. For me, this means I can comfortably read more text on a single screen, and therefore turn pages less often, and therefore concentrate better on what I'm reading. This is one feature of the Voyage that I didn't expect to care about, but it turned out to be a noticeable step up.

Lightness and portability.

I currently carry a compact purse, and fitting a book inside is a ridiculous pipe dream unless I plan on leaving my wallet at home. However, the Voyage is so low-profile, it slips right in behind all my junk with room to spare. After realizing how clunky and obnoxious the case on my old Kindle was, I made a point to pick out a Voyage case that wouldn't add bulk, and I've been happy with it.

3G and special offers.

I decided to skip the 3G and get a wi-fi only Kindle this time. My old Kindle had 3G, and if you live in a place where wi-fi is scarce, it makes a lot of sense. However, wi-fi is prevalent most places I go these days, and I do most of my reading at home where I always have Internet access. If we're heading out on a long trip in the future, I'll just plan ahead and make sure my Voyage is loaded ahead of time with whatever books I might want to read. I'm a planner anyway, so 3G didn't seem worth it to me.

As for the special offers, I decided to go ahead and accept them due to the discounted price. I'll admit that they're a little distracting on the home screen, but I don't care a whit what's on the sleep screen, and I'm certainly not annoyed enough that I want to hand over $20 more to get rid of them. Plus, sometimes the covers of the romance novels and such are amusing. (Pro tip: Adam informs me that if you initially accept the special offers but later find them off-putting, you have the option to pay $20 at any time and have them removed, even after your initial purchase.)

Long story longer, I'm really pleased with my e-reader upgrade, and I've enjoyed experimenting with it in the last week or so. If you've been toying with the idea of investing in a new e-reader (or even trying one out for the first time), I hope I've provided some insight into what the new Voyage is like and whether it might be a good fit for you.

If you're in the market for a new Kindle, would you be so kind as to use the following affiliate links and let Amazon know we sent you?

Kindle Voyage

Kindle Paperwhite


purple giraffe case

I'm also interested to hear your thoughts on e-readers in general. Are you a reluctant adopter like me, or do you read exclusively on your device? Or perhaps you're one of the stubborn few who says it's paper or nothing, and e-books are the harbingers of global doom? If you've used a non-Kindle e-reader, or if you read e-books on an iPad or Android tablet, let me know what you like and don't like about those options.

I'd love to hear from you!