Covers, skins, and sleeves

Covers, skins, and sleeves

“Covers, skins, and sleeves
We put them on our Kindles, up and down
We use them: Covers, skins, and sleeves
But on the sites they’re all around
So we lay our money down”

One of the questions I see frequently is people asking if they need a cover for their Kindle…and other EBRs (E-Book Readers) for that matter.  I thought I’d take a pretty high-level view in this post and look at the options.

The answer to the basic question is no, you don’t need a cover.  The Kindle will work fine without it.  It’s safe to hold it “naked”, and many people prefer reading it that way.  Your Kindle will certainly feel lighter.

If you do decide to accessorize it, here are some choices:


A cover…covers the Kindle.  🙂   You can read your Kindle in that cover, or take it out.  There are many configurations…ones that open like a book, ones that flip over the top of the Kindle.  Some even have an easel, so they hold the Kindle at a slant.  I like that myself, and use it in restaurants.  They range from pretty inexpensive (I’ve seen them as low as about ten dollars) up to literally hundreds of dollars for hand-crafted leather models.  That’s a way you can make your Kindle into more of a luxury item.

I do recommend a cover, primarily for drop protection.  The covers are typically padded and extend somewhat beyond the edges of the Kindle.  When you drop a Kindle (and many people have), it helps a lot to have something take up the shock.  If your Kindle lands on a corner with a cover that cover can flex a bit.  If your Kindle lands on a corner of the device, that’s quite a shock to it. 

Covers can also keep the Kindle more protected from the elements…and from spills. 

I’ve always had a cover for my Kindles.  There are many brands, but I’d rather keep this particular post about the concepts.

Covers may also have pockets you can use to carry things, like a lens wipe for the screen.

Covers, by the way, must be for the right version of the Kindle.  A Kindle 3 has a diferent morphology (it has different dimensions) than a Kindle 2, a Kindle 1, or a Kindle DX.  Since the Kindle is held in place somehow, one model’s cover won’t fit another model well.  That’s also true for sleeves, below.

So, although you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you can judge a cover for an e-book reader.  😉


Sleeves are like an envelope into which you put the KindleYou slide the Kindle out of them to read.  They can be quite decorative, and may be padded as well.  The cheapest sleeve is a padded mailing envelope.  I’ve used those…that’s about a dollar.  🙂   I’ve seen them up to thirty-five dollars or so.

Does a sleeve offer the same protection as a cover?  Well, one of the disadvantages is that your Kindle is unprotected while you are reading…and that’s one of the times you are more likely to drop it.  It’s good for transport, though…and some of them look cool.  🙂


A skin is a sticker that you put on the body of the Kindle.  It will have cut-outs for the buttons, and they are typically removable.  These are primarily decorative.  They don’t provide any drop protection.  They might keep you from getting stuff on the Kindle body…but they wouldn’t stop liquids from entering the device.  You can get custom-made ones, and lots of designs.  These are fun, but I wouldn’t think of them as protecting the Kindle.

Those are the three that I mentioned in the subject title, but there are two more I want to discuss.  It’s just that I couldn’t do that Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves parody at the top if I included them in the name of the post.  😉

Screen protectors

A screen protector is a transparent film you put directly on to the screen.  It’s designed to prevent scratches and such.  That is important on some devices with plastic covers, but I’ve never heard of someone scratching the Kindle screen.  Cracking it, yes, even chipping it.  Think of the Kindle’s screen as a window…it would be one tough cookie to scratch.  Screen protectors also make the screen harder to see.  It’s just another layer in-between…it may not be bad, but you may notice it.  I don’t recommend these for the Kindle, but some people do use them.  Also, the Kindle screen is pretty easy to clean if you get a spot on it…the screen protector may not be.


The difference between a case and a cover is that the case fully encloses the Kindle.  A cover is open on three sides.  If you are taking your Kindle whitewater rafting, you definitely want a case.  There are hard cases and waterproof cases.  The cheapest case?  A Ziploc bag.  🙂

Do you have to take your Kindle out of the case to read?  Not necessarily.  Some of them have a clear window so you can see the Kindle and read (and push the buttons, if the clear part isn’t rigid).  Since you don’t have to do that big “flip over” thing you do with a paperbook, but just push the Next Page button, that makes it easy.  You can do that through the Ziploc bag…which is how some people take a bath with the Kindle.

So, summing up:

I recommend a cover for drop protection while reading.

A sleeve is good for transporting the Kindle, but not for reading in it.

A skin is decorative, but provides no drop protection.

A screen cover probably isn’t necessary, and may make it harder to read your book.

A case is good for transport and storage.

It is okay to read the Kindle with nothing on it…that’s what people mean when they say they like to read the Kindle naked.  At least, that’s what is usually means… 😉

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

5 Responses to “Covers, skins, and sleeves”

  1. Daz Says:

    Great post. You are right, there are so many questions about the who cover or not, case or not. I’ve been asked many times. This explains it beautifully. Will be pointing people here from now on.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Daz!

      Thanks for the kind words! I appreciate that. This is one of those things where peole who have approached it over the years from different directions are comfortable with the concepts, but people new to it can find it confusing. EBR (E-Book Reader) owners aren’t always gadgeteers, so they may not have heard of skins and screen protectors before.

  2. trek Says:

    It is an interesting debate, isn’t it? I like my Oberon cover but it is almost as heavy as the Kindle itself. I can see where folks with issues like carpal tunnel and arthritis would find it too heavy. Amazon has a silicone “cover” which looks a lot like the skins but provides protection all around the edges – cushioning the unit – and is very light. No “cover” across the screen with this one, though.

  3. Round up #146: Chinese challenges, DecalGirl discount « I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] For more on what skins are, see Covers, skins, and sleeves […]

  4. 2013 ILMK Holiday Gift Guide | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] there are many cover choices (and skins and sleeves), but we like a relatively inexpensive brand called Fintie. They have fun colors and patterns, and […]

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