E-readers aren’t sexy (but still awesome)


I recently came back from a brief, two-week trip in East Asia which included stops in Hong Kong, Taipei and Tokyo. It was loads of fun! But I made the mistake of bringing a book that I didn’t really like and it made all the waiting in airports super painful.

I know, First World Problems, right?

Well, I really felt sorry for myself because I could have brought my Kindle and bought any other, better, book on the fly.

On a side note, I’d like to congratulate my cousin L. on buying his very first Kindle and welcome him to the weird club of e-reader readers. L. bought the Kindle because he had always wanted one and found out that it qualifies for same-day shipping with Amazon Prime. A fan of new and shiny objects with touch screens, he opted for the Kindle Paperwhite with a built-in light.

I was a little surprised L. bought an e-reader because he’s an early adopter and unlike other portable devices, the e-reader never got its sexy back. It’s more or less still a bonified etch and sketch. Newer versions of Kindles and Kobos have added a fancy light and other high(er) tech upgrades like uh, page numbers and less flickering when turning pages.

In fact, e-readers haven’t even been sexy enough to replace books — which some people argue are unsexy in their own right.


Alas, I’m still a big believer in e-readers and, after all these years, I STILL use my Kindle Keyboard. Yes, it’s got a KEYBOARD and no touchscreen. Isn’t it beautiful?



I can buy books and read them while in bed – without even getting dressed. Also, I can travel with a dozen Russian novels in my back pocket.

So, welcome to the club L. Feel proud because now you can read Fifty Shades on the subway without getting weird looks. (No really, don’t do it.)

P.S. For all you other Kindle owners, check out Buzzfeed’s article on “21 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Your Kindle.



On Two Years of Broken Penguins

Second Birthday Cake

This month marks the two year blogiversary of Broken Penguins. The title of this blog has drawn a lot of attention. I even received an email from Penguin’s publicity team complimenting me on it. This was a relief because they didn’t sue me.

The Girl in the Picture Book CoverBroken Penguins is named after a sale my university used to hold to get rid of Penguin titles with cracked spines, dented covers and dog-eared page corners. I picked up a copy of Denise Chong’s The Girl in the Picture with a dog-eared front cover and paid a whopping $3.99 for it. It turned out to be one of the best books I read that year. I used the receipt as my bookmark and beside the price, the title was replaced with “BROKEN PENGUIN SALE”.

Some people think Broken Penguins refers to the failure of traditional publishing today. But that’s not the case. If anything, it’s a celebration of the amount of reading that continues to take place whether it’s on paper, on a screen, in an e-reader, between glossy pages or in a comic strip.

It’s that little girl curled up in bed with a flashlight under the cover, that teenage boy on the bus that’s too cool for anything except Nietzsche, the hipster that refuses to sink as low as a Kindle, the old man that donates antique books to his college book sale, that intern that will work in publishing even if it means not getting paid because she can’t see herself not surrounded by books. It’s a celebration of all the broken Penguin books that someone loved enough to break.

Long live reading.

Tattered Penguin Books

Photo credits: cakecentral.com

You know you’re a Kindle user when…

Sure, you’ve heard that e-readers are lightweight, cut down on paper and save money in the long-run. But the longer I use my Kindle, the more I begin to appreciate the little benefits it brings.

You know you’re a Kindle user when…

1. You feel that you’re betraying your Kindle by buying an IPad.

2. You gleefully convert paperbook lovers into Kindle owners.

3. You spend more money on your Kindle case than on your Kindle.

4. You get a rush flipping through your Kindle book collection.

5. You’ve downloaded too many books to read in a lifetime.

6. You become well-versed in the classics whenever you’re broke.

7. You tell people that you’re 38 per cent through The Hunger Games.

8. You have Calibre and love it.

9. You can list three authors who were rejected by publishers and went on to make a million on Kindle.

10. Your idea of a romantic gift is a Kindle with Lady Chatterly’s Lover preloaded on it.

11. You let people think that you’re well-read just because you have a Kindle.

12. You purposely read naughty and embarrassing novels in public.

13. After realizing it will be a LONG wait at the walk-in clinic, you think “Good thing I have three Russian novels on hand. We could be here for months.”

14. You have something to add to this list…

Free tools for Kindle

Did I ever mention that I love my Kindle? Because I do. I really, really do. I started reading for fun again after I bought it. For those of you reading off your Kindle, there are a couple free tools that can make your experience that much better.

These tools also apply to those of you reading eBooks with the Kindle app for smartphones and Kindle for PC/ Mac.

My favourite free tools for Kindle:


Calibre is free software that allows you to organize and convert your ebook files. So you can convert PDF files to Kindle files (MOBI) and read it like any other ebook. Calibre’s actually a very powerful tool that can much more than that with the help of plugins but I’ll let you Google it yourself.


EreaderIQ tracks Kindle titles on your Amazon wish list and notifies you when items go on sale. It also keeps a automated list of recent titles that have gone on sale and recent titles that have been priced at $0! It’s perfect if you’ve got your eye on older titles that are priced above $9.99. Those often go on sale after a few months. EreaderIQ will also track when paper titles are available on Kindle. The only downside is that the EreaderIQ site is quite ugly.

Lendle (US only)

Kindle now allows US Residents to lend out their Kindle books for a week – but they can only lend out each book once. Lendle allows Kindle users to borrow and lend books to each other anonymously. And it’s risk-free because after the one week lending period, Kindle automatically transfers the book back the owners. The only downside is that some publishers won’t allow you to lend out/ borrow certain title and if you’re outside the US, you’re out of luck.


BookLending.com does the same thing as Lendle only it allows non-US Residents to freeload off kind-hearted Americans who voluntarily lend out their Kindle library. That means Canadian readers like me can borrow books but cannot lend mine out.

What tools do you use for your ereader?

Related Penguins: Penguin Pulls Kindle Ebooks from Libraries, Kobo Reader Perks, Kindles for all – unless you live outside the US

Photo credits: marthastewart.com