The Kindle Scribe Is Good for Reading, at a Cost

Kindle oasis scribe

When Amazon first released the Kindle Scribe, I bought one because I was curious about how it would be to read on a device that size. I have no desire to use any of the note-taking features, and, from the many reviews I’ve read, most people find them frustrating. At a starting price of $340 – with 16 GB storage, and what Amazon calls the “basic pen” – this is a very expensive device. I tried it for a few days, then returned it, because it was just too expensive to be used as a reading device.

Recently, I noticed that Amazon was offering a 20% discount on a new Kindle Scribe if you traded in an old Kindle. I had a very old Kindle Paperwhite that was sluggish, and received £20 for it, so the £330 price, after the 20% discount, dropped to £264. In addition, Amazon was offering a £30 voucher for Kindle books, which made the Scribe cost only £234. This was just a few pounds more than the Kindle Oasis, of which I have had two versions since 2017.

I very much like the Kindle Oasis, but it always felt a bit small to me. I like to read with fonts larger than in most print books, and this means that I have to switch pages very often. With the Kindle Scribe, I can have fonts the same size, yet the pages look more like real pages; the width of the lines and the number of lines is closer to what I see in a paperback book. (One thing I would like to see on all of the Kindles is more font choices. There are only nine fonts, and given the resolution of current Kindle displays, they could certainly add a few more that would be readable on an E ink tablet.)

I’m enjoying reading on the Kindle Scribe. It’s closer to the size of a hardcover book, and having more text on a page feels closer to reading a real book. Perhaps Amazon made a mistake: there are probably people like me who want a Kindle with a larger screen, but who don’t want to take notes, and don’t want to pay a premium for a feature they won’t use. After all, what made the Kindle successful was the fact that it was a single task device, for reading and nothing else. At the discounted price, it makes sense as a larger Kindle; at full price, it’s just too expensive.

I think the ideal Kindle would be somewhere between the size of the Oasis and the Scribe. While you get more portability with the Oasis, it feels cramped with larger fonts, because the line lengths are too short. (The optimal line length for reading is about 45–70 characters; in the photo above, the Oasis display about 50–55 characters per line, and the Scribe about 60–65 characters.) The Scribe is quite large: it’s almost the size and weight of an 10" iPad, is almost the same weight (433g vs. 487g), and doesn’t easily fit into a bag.

So if you want a larger Kindle, and have an old device to trade in, this could be a good time to try the Kindle Scribe. Even if you don’t have an old Kindle, you could buy one used on eBay; as long as it still works and isn’t visibly damaged, you should be able to trade it in. Even if it is damaged, I think Amazon will still give you the discount.

Note: After I published this article, a friend pointed out that it’s easy to add custom fonts to the Kindle.