Kindle Paperwhite: Should You Buy It?

Amazon’s new version of the popular reading device is a major improvement on previous models.

If you’ve never taken to e-readers, I get it. Booksphysical, hard copies of booksfueled my imagination as a kid, and I still love to visit local bookstores and support my favorite authors.

But learning to love an e-reader doesn’t mean getting rid of your hardcovers—especially with the Kindle Paperwhite. For years, this device has been Kindle’s most popular product, and many of its users find a balance between reading on the Kindle and reading “real” books.

The fourth-generation Paperwhite, which was released on November 7, 2018, is made for people who love books. It combines the features that built a loyal group of followers with additions and tweaks that make reading convenient, comfortable, and fun. Overall, it’s a major improvement on previous models, and easily worth its $129 price tag.


  • Reading in the bath or at the pool is safe and easy.
    The new Paperwhite is waterproof. If it falls in less than two meters of fresh water, and stays there for less than an hour, the device will still be as good as new.
  • The Paperwhite won’t strain your hands—or your eyes.
    This year’s upgrade brings a thinner and lighter design, glass-front screen, and up to 32 GB of storage space. And unlike looking at your phone or computer for too long, staring into a Kindle won’t strain your eyes. The display is made of electronic ink and doesn’t require a backlight. So it won’t give you a headache, and it’s easy to read in bright sunlight. It also uses very little power, so a single battery charge will last weeks.
  • Welcome to internet-free entertainment.
    Customers have the option to buy a Paperwhite compatible with Wi-Fi, or one that uses your mobile phone plan to get online. Although you can download e-books and post book reviews to Amazon and Goodreads, that’s where browsing the web will end. Arguably, this is the device’s most valuable feature: you won’t use your Kindle to check your email or browse Facebook. It’s built for a great reading experience, and that’s what it delivers.
  • You can read on every device you use.
    Amazon’s Kindle apps will remember the last page you read in a book, and help you pick up the story on your phone or computer. So if you’re sitting on a train or waiting in line and don’t have your device (let alone an actual book), you don’t need to worry about finding what page you were on.
  • You can listen to audiobooks (and never lose your place).
    Audible, an audiobook company owned by Amazon, lets users listen to books, magazine articles, newspaper features, and more. It’s preloaded on every Paperwhite, so you can download audiobooks and listen to them by connecting your Kindle to wireless headphones or speakers. If you download both the audiobook and e-book for the same title, you can mix listening and reading with Whispersync, a unique Kindle feature. It lets you listen to an audiobook, then open the text version and start reading from the exact place you left off.
  • The library comes to you.
    You don’t need to buy e-books and audiobooks to read them on your Kindle. Use Libby to borrow them from your local library. Meanwhile, save books to your reading list and get recommendations from friends on Goodreads, a social network for books that integrates with Kindle devices.
  • Save money by trading in your old device.
    Owners of earlier Kindle models can offset the cost of a new one by trading in their devices with Amazon. A used Paperwhite is worth up to $25 toward the new Paperwhite, while an outdated version of a higher-end model—the Kindle Voyage or Kindle Oasis—will earn you up to $75.
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