Around five years ago, bookstores and libraries were in a state of collective panic. E-book sales had shot up by 1,260 per cent between 2008 and 2010, and the future for the good old paperbacks and hardbounds looked bleak. Soon, analysts predicted that e-books would overtake print by 2015. But it didn’t quite work out that way. In fact, e-book sales have stagnated over the years, and e-readers seem to be falling out of favour. The Kindle Paperwhite has been launched in this uncertain digital world.
What’s good: Though most readers migrate to e-readers for reasons ranging from lack of space to store books, to the convenience of carrying 1,000 titles on holidays, most lament the loss of the feel of paper. This device tries to bring that paperback experience into your hands and comes pretty close to succeeding. It comes with a high-resolution 300 ppi screen. This makes it easier on the eyes, as one cannot spot the pixels that make up the letters — something that has distracted us in earlier Paperwhite editions.
Then, it adds to the easier-reading experience by introducing an all-new font, Bookerly, which it claims is “crafted to read even more like the printed page”. The font makes reading longer text easier. Glare is another issue that has been addressed. In the harsh Mumbai sun and at night under a bright tube light, there was no discomfort. A major plus that e-readers have over books is its ability to light up a page at night. And this is where the Paperwhite trumps the pricier Voyage (its earlier version). The latter adjusts the built-in light automatically, and we had some issues with the levels it chose for us. But light level can be adjusted manually on this device.
What’s Not: Our main grouse is with the titles one can access on the device. There are 30,000 free e-books and two million e-books said to be available, but at steep prices — even in the Kindle edition. We had hoped the issue would solve itself out with the launch of Kindle Unlimited in India, but the selection there too is limited for our liking.
Verdict: High on features and relatively well priced, the Paperwhite is a good buy if you are looking to pick your first e-reader or even looking for an upgrade. And it arguably is Amazon’s best yet.
At a Glance
What: Kindle Paperwhite
Quick specs: 6-inch high-resolution display (300 ppi) with built-in light
Best buy: Rs 10,999 for the WiFi model, Rs 13,999 for WiFi + 3G model on amazon.in
USP: Paperback experience on a digital device