So I pulled the trigger on a new e-reader. The prompt for this was a cramped return flight that didn’t allow carry-on bags to actually be carried on. (Don’t get me started!) I wound up on the plane without my tablet, and read about 90% of an e-book on my Android phone by the time we arrived. Surprisingly workable, but not ideal. I’d been hearing good things about the latest Paperwhite update and decided to give it a shot.
I am not a proponent of convergence, the whole “One Device to Rule Them All” mentality. Every few years someone opens a fresh refrain of how specialization is dead and we must all use a single device to do everything. Don’t know about you, but my phone barely lasts an entire day without a charge as is– and on vacation, I’m often falling back on those portable battery chargers to make it to an outlet. The idea of a small, flat device that supports my favorite hobby and lasts for weeks on a single charge has a lot of appeal. E-ink still trumps the highest res screen, and the backlighting on the Paperwhite is subtle after staring into a tablet screen for hours on end. This device does the best job I’ve seen of emulating actual book pages, with just enough illumination to keep it viable in less than ideal conditions. So far so good.
(That first screen is from my own work-in-progress, bee-tee-dubs. I highly recommend converting your own drafts and uploading them for review. Helps divorce your brain from your own work.)
One new feature I find interesting is the X-Ray, which provides useful context around characters, setting and historical details (as shown in second shot above, from Stephen King’s 11/22/63). The downside is that it’s not available on all books; presumably someone must aggregate all that metadata in the background. It’s something to keep in mind for my own releases, especially alternate histories! Ahem.
Another surprise is the readability of graphic novels on the Paperwhite. Well, some graphic novels. Kindle Panel View makes this the perfect device for reading an old-school, black-and-white, panel-by-panel joint like Alan Moore’s From Hell (below). Seems obvious that more modern comics with elaborate color palettes and unconventional layouts will suffer, but I have yet to experiment. We’ll see.
It’s been years since my first-generation Kindle became… uh, kindling. Since then I’ve muddled through with Kindle apps for PC and Android, as well as free readers for EPUB format. They get the job done, but are less than ideal. Paperwhite isn’t perfect by any stretch; you’re still stuck within Amazon’s ecosystem and the occasional DRM annoyances. But, for me at least, it manages to restore the feel of reading vs. browsing files on a computer. Given my reading habits, that justifies its existence.