In 2007, the internet commerce company Amazon introduced a $399 electronic book (e-book) reader called the Kindle. The Kindle wasn't the first dedicated e-book reader device, but it didn't really have much competition — there wasn't a huge demand in the market for e-book readers before the Kindle's launch.
The Kindle took off because it had one big advantage over other e-book readers: Amazon itself. The Kindle enjoys a seamless integration with the retail giant's online store, which hosts millions of titles in electronic format.
Because Kindles are wireless, you can access the store without connecting the device to a computer. You can buy a book or subscribe to an electronic version of a newspaper on Amazon and download it directly to the Kindle. Amazon also has a large customer base, which means a big audience for e-books — and lots of publishers and self-published authors wanting to jump into that market. These factors give the Kindle a leg up on the competition.
Why would you want to use an e-book reader in the first place? One reason is that a single e-book reader can hold many titles. The $90 Kindle, Amazon's base model, comes with 8GB of storage. Although there's no standard size for e-books, it's safe to say that that 8GB is enough memory to hold thousands of titles. The original Kindle had a port that allowed users to save titles to a memory card, extending the device's capacity, but then again it only had 250MB of RAM built in. Today's models do not have card slots, but you can get the Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Oasis configured with up to 32GB storage. Amazon offers free online storage for all of its content, so you may have a backup plan if you somehow run out of space.
That memory capacity also makes Kindle readers very convenient for travelers. With a Kindle, you don't have to worry about packing heavy books in your luggage to keep you occupied for your whole trip. A single Kindle can hold more than enough titles to tide you over. And if you decide you want something completely different midway through your travels (as long as you're traveling in the United States or a country in which Amazon offers service for its international Kindle), you can always use the Kindle to access Amazon's store and buy a new book.
The Kindle also has several functions that you may find helpful while reading. You can bookmark a page, highlight a selection of text, type notes or look up words in the dictionary as you read.
Interestingly, the biggest users of Kindles are baby boomers and older people who like the ability to make their book print larger. Millennials and member of Gen Z seem to prefer paperbound books when they decide to read. However, a report from the National Endowment for the Arts said that 44.5 percent of adults in its survey said they read or listened to books in digital formats. Only 25.1 percent said that they read only print books.