Digital books have greatly improved the reading selection for expats abroad, and it’s easier than ever to download and instant enjoy titles. With a $119 price tag, the Amazon Kindle E-reader can pay for itself in international shipping and money saved on E-books, which are often cheaper than paperback.
For those unfamiliar with the terminology, an E-reader is a small device (5-6 inch display) for reading books, newspapers or magazines. Displays are usually monochrome and are described as electrophoretic ink (E Ink). E-readers are a lower cost alternative to tablets, which like computers have color displays and run applications (Apps). E-readers also have battery life measured in days where tablets last for hours.
You can use an E-reader in Costa Rica, provided you have a credit card, Wi-Fi Internet or a computer with Internet access and a USB cable. Internet access is only required to purchase and download the book to the device. The wait time to download an average book is usually only a few minutes on a 1 MB broadband Internet connection, which is common in Costa Rica. Once downloaded the book remains on the device, which on average can store 3,000 books.
If you read frequently, then an E-reader can vastly increase your library of books and reduce eye strain. This is because the new E-readers have better displays and can magnify or adjust the size of text. One of the reasons for the popularity of the Kindle Paperwhite is its white background, which offers a higher contrast than previous gray-scale displays. The Paperwhite also has a touch screen, which eliminates the need for the bulky keyboard.
I prefer the Kindle Paperwhite over the Nook by Barnes and Noble because Amazon has a larger selection of books. Also, I am worried about the long term viability of Barnes and Noble (BN). I’m also a fan of the frequent $1.99 book promotions on Amazon.
Having books in an electronic collection can be a real advantage for backpackers and people who frequently change their addresses. The cost of shipping anything to Costa Rica is expensive and leaving a paper book collection behind can reduce the cost of relocation by several hundred dollars.
One caveat to using a Kindle E-reader in Costa Rica is that you can not use the International 3G coverage that Amazon offers in more than 100 countries. This is because despite serving most of Central America, Costa Rica is a gap in the coverage. This means that you will need to have access to a Wi-Fi Internet connection to purchase and download books. Unless you also plan to spend time roaming the United States, there is no point in paying for a more expensive 3G model Kindle.
Before ordering a Kindle Paperwhite you should know that Amazon has done everything possible to reduce cost. As a result it does not come with a charger or case. The Kindle uses a standard micro USB cable, so it’s compatible with the charging cables that come with smart phones. You can also charge it by connecting it to a computer with the correct USB cable. You can order a Kindle Paperwhite Charger for about $20, and a Leather Cover for $30.