The hidden costs of the Kindle

Posted by Otis Chandler on July 17, 2009
A few months ago I wrote a blog piece about 6 Things I Like and Don't Like About My New Kindle. Last night I learned an important thing about the Kindle: it has a huge hidden cost - it can break!

My Kindle accidentally got stepped on last night as it was charging next to my desk. My bad for leaving it on the floor I suppose, but either way: it's not unusable. I'm not telling you this because I want your pity, I'm telling you because it's an important thing to factor in when you're calculating if you want to buy a Kindle.

The most popular reasons to buy a Kindle are:

1. You don't have lug a lot of books around when you're on the go
2. It's way faster to get a book than going to the bookstore
3. It's cheaper to read, as the ebooks cost less

The third point is actually a big selling point, as if you assume the average book is $15, and Kindle books are $10, and you read a book a week, you can save $260 a year - more if the ebooks you read are out of copyright and thus free.

But here is the trick - the Kindle is very susceptible to damage, and thus the risk needs to be factored in. Think about how much you like to read at the beach with all that sand, or at the pool with lots of water and hard concrete around. Not to mention the chance of theft as it's an expensive device!

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

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message 2: by Otis (new)

Otis Chandler Great find. That definitely illustrates why DRM is a bad idea. We don't buy books on the Kindle, we buy a license to read them.

message 3: by Chris (new)

Chris Schaeffer I disagree. I have dropped my Kindle onto a concrete floor from 4 feet and it did not damage it at all.

Also, in a horrible accident at my home my Kindle was thrown into the wall TWICE (leaving inch deep scars in the drywall) and the kindle still works great.

My experience is that they stand up to a lot of abuse.

message 4: by Brendan (last edited Jul 17, 2009 02:39PM) (new)

Brendan I don't think #3 is the real way to go if you want to read on fewer dollars. Buy used books; you'll spend way less than $10 a book, and you'll ever worry about a broken machine rendering your entire library inaccessible.

message 5: by Shawn (new)

Shawn And don't forget the fact that can remove a book off your Kindle even if you've paid for it:

message 6: by Jess (The Cozy Reader) (last edited Jul 18, 2009 07:22AM) (new)

Jess (The Cozy Reader) Kennedy Sorry to hear about your damaged Kindle Otis!

Maybe thinner really isn't better?

I have the Kindle 1 and have yet to damage it. I, however, never take it out of the included cover. I flip back the cover to read and usually recover it when I'm done for the time.

Sure, I've dropped it a few times but with that cover on. I haven't had any issues and I've had it since Dec. 2007.

I also have taken it to the beach, read in the pool and in the tub. Ziploc bags are all you need to protect it if you're afraid of damage. There are also waterproof covers you can purchase but they are pretty pricey.

Taking care of an electronic such as the Kindle (pricey!) is essential. Leaving it on the floor probably isn't the best way to be sure it's safe! Nor is throwing it into a wall!

It is unfortunate that has the ability to delete our purchased content. As long as they continue to refund the full price that it was purchased at I don't think I have an issue.

I think I would actually prefer to be able to "return" an ebook after reading it. Seeing as we can't share them it would really help the book buying fund. Maybe even just a discounted return amount would be cool. Hmmm, I never thought about that. I'd really like that option!!!

I hardly ever re-read so, yeah.

message 7: by Sephie (new)

Sephie I'm afraid I won't 'shell out' on a Kindle as long as I can get all the books I need from and and other similar sites - and when I've read the book, it goes back into the system. Great recycling at the cost of postage only.

Jess (The Cozy Reader) Kennedy Sephie wrote: "Great recycling at the cost of postage only"

Postage is not cheap. Plus, this method doesn't help support the efforts of the publisher nor the author. It only helps the consumer, which I'm all for, but I also what to support both the publisher and the author, as well as the Earth and at the same time rid myself of the waiting and be pleasured by the instant gratification I get when I purchase a Kindle book and have it on my Kindle in under 1 minute.

I'm all about convenience and saving money yet supporting the economy and saving the ecosystem. :)

message 9: by Jon (new)

Jon @Jessica: I would disagree about used books or book swapping hurting authors and publishers. Since joining GoodReads and subsequently BookMooch, I've actually spent more on new books than the previous couple of decades combined.

If other readers are exposed to good content, I believe they will either "step up" and purchase the content or at the very least promote the work to their friends. That sort of advertising and endorsement is a strong sell to me (as a consumer).

And yes, nearly all the new books I buy end up recycled through BookMooch, because I love to share! :) Postage isn't a killer, at least in the US with Media Mail rates so low. I often use first class for smaller paperbacks even.

message 10: by Jess (The Cozy Reader) (last edited Jul 20, 2009 06:18PM) (new)

Jess (The Cozy Reader) Kennedy Jon wrote: "@Jessica: I would disagree about used books or book swapping hurting authors and publishers. Since joining GoodReads and subsequently BookMooch, I've actually spent more on new books than the pre..."

Not exactly sure what you mean but what I'm getting out of that is that since you've "borrowed" a certain book from an author you now purchase them instead of borrowing? :)

That's great! Glad to hear it. I guess I assumed that Sephie only borrows books and never purchases new books herself. Again, the book swapping sites certainly don't help the author and publisher too much since the books are just being swapped back and forth.

message 11: by Sephie (new)

Sephie @Jon & @Jessica Hi again. I certainly do buy new books. Often, after I've had a swapped or mooched book of an author/genre I wouldn't normally read, having enjoyed it so much, I've had to buy another one right away!

I only really took up reading again as a hobby in 2004 and BookCrossing was certainly the catalyst in doing this.

Following the book swapping/borrowing logic - are libraries not in the category of depriving authors of revenue? - or is it more about promoting literacy and making the enjoyment of reading more affordable?

message 12: by Kyle (new)

Kyle Gambrel $15 a book? Anyone heard of a library?

Jess (The Cozy Reader) Kennedy Hbaj - thanks for that insightful triple post!

Lalaine *myficbookreviews* Chris wrote: "I disagree. I have dropped my Kindle onto a concrete floor from 4 feet and it did not damage it at all.

Also, in a horrible accident at my home my Kindle was thrown into the wall TWICE (leaving in..."

I totally agree with you, just today it kind of slipped thru my hand and came flying to my tiled floor and It went a loud bang on the floor I was gonna cry i knew it would have been broken or have some few lines ont he screen but I swear wen I picked up my kindle there is not even a single scratch nor the screen was damage. good as new. :)

message 15: by Johnil (new)

Johnil I had the same concern but came across a very inexpensive fix to this. This past summer I tried an iLoc Kindle Case for just a couple bucks. It protected my kindle from the sand. It was great to be able to throw down my kindle and go play volleyball without any worries. I got mine at

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