20151001_061055_HDR (2)I can already tell that this Kindle Paperwhite is going to be bad for my insomnia. Or good for it. Either way, it can do something my old Kindle Touch never could: read in bed, at night, with the lights out. Yes, it’s a little thing, and it’s something I could do already with my tablets. But it has a couple of benefits.

For one thing, the Paperwhite is frontlit instead of backlit. I’m not sure how much difference that really makes, given that it’s staring at light sources in general that interferes with your ability to sleep, but I’m told that it doesn’t have the same blue wavelength effect as LCD screens so doesn’t interfere with your ability to sleep as much. I’m not sure whether or to what extent that’s actually true, but maybe it’ll make me feel a little better about it anyway.

20151001_060902_HDR (2)The photos don’t really do justice to the experience of reading from the screen in the dark. The brightness is adjustable, and in the photos I actually have it adjusted fairly dim. But the camera has a different view of contrast than the human eye. (And there’s also that blotchy effect, which I think is caused by using HDR to take the photos. My cat photographs the same way sometimes.) Set at the low, dimmer levels, it actually reminds me a lot of reading from my old Palm Pilot in the dark, using the night-light-like Indiglo backlight it had.

At any rate, when my insomnia hit me in the middle of the night, I was able to finish another chapter in Lies My Teacher Told Me, and even check my email and browse the web a little, keeping it dim enough not to harm my night vision too much. I’m definitely liking this e-reader a whole lot.

In case you’re wondering, the e-book I used for the demo shot is the quite-excellent How Much for Just the Planet by the late John M. Ford, one of the funniest Star Trek books ever written—and ample demonstration that the agency pricing follies are not reserved to new-release hardcovers. Despite having been published 28 years ago, the e-book is still $8.99 on Amazon. That’s 54 cents more than the Mass Market Paperback edition ($8.45 new), on par with the used hardcover ($4.99 + $3.99 shipping), and considerably more than the used paperback (1 cent + $3.99 shipping) versions available right alongside, So much for the long tail, huh?


  1. For insomnia, Chris, you might try audiobooks, including free ones that usually trace their source back to:


    There’s a lot of great 19th and early 20th-centuy fiction there from before 1923, when Disney (boo, hiss) dried up the public domain well.

    There is one giant problem with listening to audiobooks to go to sleep, they work too well. You can often fall asleep while they play on. Most have a sleep timer for that problem, but its typically done wrong, more like a radio sleep timer than what an audiobook player needs.

    The problem comes the morning after you fell asleep listening. Where in the tale did you fall asleep? It can take a lot of listening, forwarding, and listening again to get to a place in the story you don’t remember.

    What is needed is a sleep timer that restarts easily. Set it to five minutes, and it will pause after five minutes. Tap something to restart and it plays on to pause in another five minutes. When you fall asleep, the restarts quit and you know that point is within five minutes of when you fell asleep.

    Unfortunately, almost all don’t pause for that sleep timer, they stop completely. To restart, you’ve not only have to go through a more complicated process, you’ve got to reset the sleep timer again, which defeats the whole purpose of having it

    As far as I know, there’s only one audiobook player that gets the sleep timer right and that’s Loyal Books:


    But alas, it is iPhone/iPad only. Loyal Books is well worth checking out at their website too.


    They offer Librivox’s audiobooks (maybe other sources) but often package them more conveniently for loading into various players.

    The Loyal Books and Librivox apps are handy because they can download audiobooks by the hundreds directly from their sites. One of the hassle of listening to public domain and free audiobooks is often finding a simple way to get them into the reader.

    Audiobooks are also great on the go or while doing work around the house. I listen to a lot of books I’d never find time to read.

  2. The screen shot of the John M. Ford books shows it left justified. Is that the result of the new typography from Amazon or did you run the book through Calibre to reset the justification (which is what I usually do because full justification is horrible on the font size I have to use).

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