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Save Money by Buying a Refurbished Kindle or Kindle Touch - a Kindle Review

Updated on July 14, 2012

$49 Kindle

Booting the $49 Kindle
Booting the $49 Kindle

Would you buy a refurbished Kindle?

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A $49 Kindle Reviewed

I've liked ebook readers ever since I borrowed a Rocket eReader from my local library several years ago. I remember requesting the titles I wanted to read on the device and waiting impatiently for my hold to move up in the library queue. When I finally got my hands on it, I put it through its paces, annotating and bookmarking pages in the titles the library put on it, knowing the Rocket would be wiped clean for the next patron.

I viewed the Rocket as a novelty; the shape of things to come, I thought. It could hold ten books, but the price was nearly $300 with a $20 monthly content subscription or $600 without the subscription. Ouch. Even though you could swap books in and out of the Rocket's memory, you still had to purchase the ebook titles. Factoring in the initial cost of the Rocket and the cost of the ebook titles, it didn't make much sense to buy one at the time. I could get books on loan from the library for free, from a discount book seller or thrift shops. Why bother with a fragile, cumbersome ebook reader with a poor resolution LCD screen?

Well, progress has certainly marched right along. I received a Certified Refurbished Kindle Touch as a gift, and I love it. When Amazon announced a $49 Certified Refurbished Kindle as a Special Offer, I couldn't resist the temptation to own yet another Kindle at that price to compare with the Touch. Sure, it's refurbished, but it come with the same warranty as the new Kindles. Since I already own other refurbished Amazon items I've either purchased or have been given, I didn't think I would be disappointed with the quality. I wasn't.



My refurbished Kindle arrived four days after I ordered it. As advertised, it was in mint condition. I plugged it into my USB wall charger and turned it on. Using the buttons at the bottom to control the Kindle is intuitive. The keyboard popped up when prompted to connect my wireless network but I had to type in my password four times before it would connect. Toggling through the onscreen keyboard to type is the basic Kindle’s biggest shortcoming but for $49, it’s not worth getting worked up over. We’ve all toggled our way through an onscreen keyboard on a variety of devices and typing goes quickly on the this 4th generation Kindle, but not as fast as on the Touch.

Covers from 'A Tale of Two Cities'. Touch is on the left.
Covers from 'A Tale of Two Cities'. Touch is on the left.
Title pages from 'A Tale of Two Cities'. Touch on the left.
Title pages from 'A Tale of Two Cities'. Touch on the left.
Edge view
Edge view

Look and Feel

The basic Kindle feels very good in your hand. It’s noticeably lighter and thinner than the Touch due to a smaller battery and less hardware and it weighs about the same as an average paperback book. Page turn buttons on both sides are an advantage over the Touch. I love them. Turning the pages on the Touch requires moving your thumbs. You can let your thumbs rest on the Kindle page buttons and turn pages effortlessly. The Kindle backs are textured and have a non-slip feel that adds to the reading experience. The Kindles feel solid, balanced and safe when held with one hand.

Another advantage the Kindle has over the Touch is better contrast. The difference is noticeable in reading text and pictures, but not on the home screen. The content text on the Touch home screen is sharper and has better contrast while the text within an ebook is sharper on the basic Kindle. I prefer reading on the basic Kindle because of the better contrast. For annotations and audio the Touch is the way to go and I do annotate heavily on my Touch.

For simple reading the basic Kindle works very well. It's better than the Touch in my opinion. As a dedicated eReader, the Kindle will fit your needs if you don't need a touchscreen or want to play audio such as mp3s, audiobooks or text-to-speech. You can annotate and bookmark fairly easy on the basic Kindle but it might be better to have pen and paper handy to jot down notes or buy a refurbished Touch.

Why Buy a Refurbished Kindle?

Why buy a refurbished Kindle? Good question. Here's a brief list of the benefits.

  • Price- an entry level Kindle for $49 with a voucher, $69 without. The price is low, but this doesn't mean the Kindle's cheap.
  • Build quality - outstanding look and feel - refurbished Kindles are certified to look and work like new, and they do.
  • Warranty - refurbished Kindles from Amazon carry the same warranty as the new Kindles
  • Total cost of ownership - digital titles don't require the same physical space or resources to manufacture and transport. Don't forget the free shipping.

I'm not advocating giving up physical books, although when I've discussed the issue with bibliophiles, they acted as if I asked them to burn their books. That's hardly the case and misses the point entirely: It's about economics - personal and environmental. Yes, you can go to library, but you will likely take your car. You can go to a discount bookstore for new or used books, but you'll need to get there and back and you will still need space to store your treasures once you've toted them home. Not only do you have transportation expenses, you have to invest your precious time rummaging for your treasures. At some point in time, you may even purge your collection through a yard sale or thrift shop. Even the act of purging takes up precious resources.

There are plenty of online resources for obtaining ebooks. Project Gutenberg and Amazon are two places to start. You can build an incredible classics library for free all on an inexpensive, high-quality, portable device. Most libraries offer digital downloads and from what I have experienced, business is brisk. Popular titles have longer waits for the digital editions than their physical counterparts. Kindle lending Web sites, where owners lend each other digital titles through Amazon, are popular too.

I've had my refurbished Touch for a few months now. As I previously stated, I love it. I was skeptical about the Kindle when it first came out for the same reasons I thought the Rocket eReader was a novelty, but no more. Prices for these devices have dropped to the point where nearly everyone in a modern economy can afford one and most likely, everyone will - and should. I've embraced eReaders; the future is now.

Future Kindles

Check out the features I think Amazon should include in the next generations of the Kindle eReader.


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    • Living Well Now profile image

      Living Well Now 5 years ago from Near Indianapolis

      The nooks are nice, especially the newer lighted nooks. Thanks for reading and leaving a useful comment :)

    • RichardPac profile image

      RichardPac 5 years ago from Sunny Florida!

      You really can't beat the refurbished units, especially if they have the same warranty as the original. I have a nook touch that I bought in November, and wouldn't part with it for anything.. It has certainly reignited a passion for reading. In addition there are a few sites where you can trade kindle and nook loans to save even more money.