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Kindle Love

My Kindle sucks, but I love it

Why clear priorities are at the core of great product design

The Kindle Paperwhite, one of my most-used and most-loved possessions, is a creaky plastic rectangle with an ancient-looking black and white display. As a device, it’s far removed from the sexy, exciting world of tech product design, and for a company that’s trying to make delivery drones an actual thing, you’d be forgiven for expecting something a little more advanced. Every iteration of the Kindle has been basic, understated, and (some might say) boring. Even reading, its main function, is a bit crappy. Turning the page causes the entire screen to blink in and out of existence, just like when you’re reading a real book and you drop it down the stairs.

The software is simplistic; relatively easy to use, sure, but not the most consistent. As a product, it’s not exactly sexy or thrilling. The first time I saw a friend using a Kindle I thought: “Wow, that looks like a piece of shit.”

But as soon as I started reading my first book on a Kindle, all of these criticisms turned out to not matter at all.

The Kindle is an example of a product that thrives on technological and budgetary constrains.

Here’s the thing about the Kindle: it works. When you read a book on it, the hardware and software disappear. The content itself becomes the only thing. This is a product doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, and doing it without a fuss, without begging for my attention. Unlike those needy delivery drones, pestering people for signatures…