Why the E-Ink Kindle Scribe Notebook Is a Huge Deal

And why it’s still just a Kindle

  • The Kindle Scribe has the highest resolution e-ink screen of all large e-ink notebooks. 
  • It’s still a Kindle e-reader. 
  • The Scribe will go on sale later this year.
Someone writing on a Kindle Scribe.


Finally, Amazon has made a Kindle you can write on. 

E-Ink is used for many things, not just e-readers like the Kindle and Kobo. It is also used in supermarket shelf labels so prices can be updated centrally, and one of its neatest uses is in note-taking devices, e-readers that support pens and let you jot down notes and mark up PDFs. It's a niche use but a popular one, and now, finally, Amazon is making the note-taking Kindle Scribe. 

"The Scribe is a huge deal because of its modern features that make the classic Kindle attractive to younger generations as well as older generations," Troy Portillo, director of operations at online learning platform Studypool, told Lifewire via email. "It's good for students, writers, researchers, and historians alike. The Kindle Scribe is perfect for users who like to take notes and annotate what they read. I'm excited to get my hands on one!"

Write On, Write Off

E-Ink screens have several disadvantages compared to the screens on our phones and iPads. They're usually only grayscale (although color e-ink screens do exist), and their refresh rate is not fast enough to keep up with the kind of user-interface animation we're used to.

On the other hand, they work on reflected light and only require power when changing the image or words, which means that they can be read in bright, direct sunlight, and the battery life is measured in weeks, not hours. Many people find e-ink more comfortable to read than LCD or OLED screens, which is the main point of ereaders. 

These advantages also apply to e-ink note-taking tablets like the Boox range or the ReMarkable 2. They can be used just like paper and left there on the desk, ready to go, without worrying about the battery burning away. They're typically slimmer and lighter than tablets, too. 

Of course, you could always use paper, but paper notes cannot be searched, and they don't let you mark up PDFs. Also, these e-notebooks make killer e-readers. 

Kindle Scribe

Amazon's Kindle Scribe comes with a 10.2-inch 300 dpi screen, a higher resolution than most dedicated e-notebooks. It also has a built-in front light that shines LEDs across the screen from the edges so you can read in low light. Big rival, the ReMarkable 2, does not have a front light, let alone one with adjustable temperature like the Scribe 

There are two pen options. Basic, which just writes, and Premium, which adds a virtual eraser, and a shortcut button.

The Scribe is a big deal because Kindle is the market leader in ebooks, so adding a notetaking device to the lineup could really help the whole sector take off. And if e-ink notebooks get more popular, then perhaps the options will expand, and we'll have better devices overall. 

Someone reading and taking notes on the Amazon Kindle Scribe.


The Scribe is also interesting because it doesn't compete directly with Boox and the ReMarkable. Those brands offer big devices dedicated to notetaking, whereas the Scribe is quite a bit smaller, with a side of notetaking. The biggest pitfall here is that syncing your notes to the desktop goes through the Kindle app, which is a terrible app already, even just for keeping track of the books you have bought. 

Kobo vs Kindle

The direct rival to the Scribe, then, is Kobo's Elipsa. The Elipsa has a 10.3-inch, 227 dpi screen, front light, and stylus. Kobo's smaller Sage has a 300dpi screen, but in this bigger size class, the Kindle Scribe wins. And the Elipsa, like the Scribe, lacks physical page-turning buttons. 

"There's one thing missing from the Kindle Scribe that's a tragedy: page turning buttons,” technology writer Richard Holmes says on Twitter. “The clickiness of page turning buttons helps recreate the idea of physical page turning because you have to do something to get to the next page."

Other than the screen, like most Kobos and Kindles, it comes down to which software you prefer. After using the Kindle for years, I now prefer the Kobo for its typography and user interface. But in terms of note-taking devices, the Kobo has one big advantage: It integrates with the Pocket read-later service, so you can also read articles on your devices. You can't mark them up, unfortunately, but the Kindle's own read-on-Kindle service is clunky and does not sync. 

The Scribe, then, might be either the beginning of a boom in e-notebooks, or it might just be another so-so Kindle from Amazon. If you're interested, you will be able to get one later this year, starting at $340.

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