REM

My boyfriend Andy and I go out a lot. And I don't mean out to the clubs. I mean outside. We're hiking, camping, and backpacking enthusiasts. But if there's one thing we love as much as outdoor adventures—it’s literary ones.

We both own Kindle Paperwhites full of stories about other adventurers—from fantasy to science fiction, historical satire to murder mysteries. Kindles are simple, light, and portable. Which makes them convenient companions for backpackers who love to read. Shove it into your pack and you’re ready to go.

The thing is—Kindles aren't completely outdoor-proof.

About six months ago, we took an overnight trip to Montaña de Oro—a beautiful state park on California’s Central Coast. When it was time to settle in for the night, we pulled out our Kindles. I snuggled into my sleeping bag and dove into the next chapter of Girl On A Train, when I caught sight of an aghast Andy out of the corner of eye. He held his Kindle and was swiping frantically—pushing the power button repeatedly. The display was frozen on an image split between a stock screensaver and a software update. It was completely unresponsive.

His Paperwhite was pretty much a Paperweight.

Was it water damage? Maybe, we were next to the ocean. Was it a cracked display? Could be, but there was no visible external damage. The problem wasn't clear—but it was clear that he wasn’t going to be reading that night. Out of respect for his recent loss, I put my Kindle away and we did what campers do best: went to sleep early.  

That was last summer. We haven't brought our Kindles on any adventures since. Andy is a faithful patron of the local library—but bringing a hardcover isn’t ideal when climbing mountains.

So for Valentine’s Day, I bought him a new Kindle display. Not a new Kindle, mind you. Just the display. And went about fixing his e-reader on my own.

I was less confident in this repair than I’ve been in others. Andy’s Kindle had been dead for a long time. The battery was completely drained—and we still weren't even sure what was wrong with it. But it was unusable and out of warranty. So, we had nothing to lose by trying to fix it.

At the kitchen table, I laid down the new part, set out my Pro Tech Toolkit, and pulled up the Paperwhite repair guide. This particular repair guide was contributed to iFixit by a group of students participating in iFixit’s Tech Writing Project. Thanks, guys!

Despite my trepidation, the process went smoothly. There was a lot of adhesive under the bezel—but my Jimmy jammed through it. There were a couple hidden Philips screws too, but the guide authors warned me about them. Twenty minutes later, Andy had a new display. The Paperwhite looked pretty good. But the moment of truth is in the boot up.

We plugged it into the wall—fingers crossed. The small orange light flashed on. Good sign. But all the display showed was the "super low battery" icon. And it stayed that way for a long time. I did a little emergency Internet troubleshooting. Everyone said the same thing: the “super low battery” icon isn’t great. There was still a chance for revival—but either the Kindle would take hours to charge or it would stay dead forever.

Shoot.

If this didn't work, I’d pretty much flunked my Valentine’s gift. It’s not like I had a romantic-dinner backup. (And that’s a good thing—anyone who knows me, knows it’s better if I don’t cook. Ever.)

Suddenly, Andy’s Kindle display went white. Bad. Very Bad. But a couple of (very painful) seconds later, the famous Kindle Tree loaded on the display—and then all of his books! Andy swiped left and the screen swiped with us. The repair, remarkably, worked. We let out a great: “Whoa!!!” (startling bewildered friends in the next room) and high-fived. Literally.

Successful repairs feel great like that. It’s the same feeling you get from climbing a mountain or making it back home from a week in the woods—that you’re a badass.

Now Andy’s Kindle can be a companion again. And both of us can get back to the trail, Kindles packed snugly (and maybe a little more securely) into our packs.

On a completely unrelated note: Anyone have any good book recommendations? Andy’s got like six months of reading to catch up on.