Kindle Voyage e-reader – Amazon’s Official Site – Learn MoreText to speech isn’t the only AWOL feature on the newer Kindles and many other devices. Full-sized controls for page-turning would also help, and at MobileRead, button boosters are debating the apathetic and the antis.

No, the Kindle Voyage‘s pathetic page-change sensors, shown in the image, do not count in my opinion. I owned a Voyage for a stretch. I found the sensors to harder to work with than buttons big enough for grown-ups.

“Having buttons means I can eat potato chips or buttered popcorn while I read without leaving grease on the screen,” says Cromag, cutting to the chase. “Could I do this with a paper book without leaving grease on the pages? No. Why am I complaining? Because technology should solve problems, and having page-turn buttons solves this one. Having buttons means I can eat potato chips or buttered popcorn while I read without leaving grease on the screen.”

I agree. Even the best page-turning technology can fail me at times if it’s only software based. With a button, I know I’ll get to the next page.

Here are some of the pros and cons of physical buttons, beyond the food factor and the reliability one.


1. On many device, not all, buttons make one-handed page turning easier.

2. They may be easier for some people with disabilities to use.


1. Devices with buttons are at least slightly more expensive.

2. The buttons may wear out in time. I say “may,” because my Kindle Keyboard with buttons is still going strong.

3. It’s probably easier in some situations to make water-proof cases and other protective ones for devices without buttons.

4. The devices themselves can be a little smaller, lighter and sleeker.

Eventually, it’s been speculated, manufacturers may rediscover buttons on e-readers in a big way—now that the touch-screen-only approach is no longer novel.

So what your own take on this?


  1. In what seems to be a vain hope that someone at Amazon is listening, I’d add that the last time I checked the WiFi chip in Kindles also does Bluetooth. There’d be no hardware cost to adding Bluetooth capabilities.

    Many of the I/O issues of Kindles could be resolved by adding the same Bluetooth keyboard and mouse abilities that tablets have. A keyboard, including the small pocket-sized ones sold on eBay, could be used for text input. Even better for everyone, particularly those with mobility issues, the two buttons on a Bluetooth mouse could be used to page forward and backward though a book.

    Just imagine. Put your Kindle on a stand at a convenient distance and then page with a mouse placed wherever you want. That’d much more convenient either button clicking or screen tapping.

    Not to be. Even innovations as simple as those don’t seem to be in Amazon’s corporate DNA.

  2. I just bought my first ereader, a Kindle Paperwhite. Having nothing to compare it to except print books (and monitor controls, which are touch-sensitive) I have to wonder why keeping at least one finger clean enough to turn pages is so very inconvenient. Would you leave grease on your print books? I spend a fair amount of time reading reviews of ereader and other technology, and have been negatively impressed by complaints that amount to people becoming so spoiled that the least little change from what they’re used to becomes a major issue.

  3. Love the buttons on my Kindle Keyboard. Also loved that I could use the nav button to change chapters.

    I own tablets and use the Kindle app but prefer an ereader. The newer Kindles lack buttons, but recently decided to purchase the Paperwhite 2015 and the one major drawback is the lack of page turn buttons.

    While I am right-handed I hold an ereader in my left hand and the buttons made it easy to turn pages from my left hand. Touch screens mean I am using both hands which is a limitation when drinking or dining while reading (common during work lunch hour when I need a little quiet time). Tried the Boyue but …

  4. @Catana

    How about this. Rather than look at it in terms of cleanliness, consider the usability. I like page turn buttons because they let me use an ereader one-handed without having my finger covering part of the screen and without the concern of accidentally turning the page.

    I like that.

  5. I like the touchscreen on my kindle Paperwhite and wouldn’t want to lose it, but I also really liked the flush page turn buttons on the low-end kindle 4/5. I live in Minnesota, and during many months of the year I am reading outside, waiting for the bus, wearing gloves (double gloves in January and February!) and my kindle is in a zip-loc bag to keep the snow off … I really love physical buttons in the winter!

  6. For over a decade now I have been advocating voice-activated page turning for e-reading devices. It could be as simple as one vocal click to turn forward, two clicks to turn backwards. As well as eaters of buttered toast, it would be of great benefit to those with movement disabilities. (Though Xhosa speakers would be unable to converse while reading.)

    Of course, the incorporation of cameras in most mobile devices has raised another possibility — blinking, or other facial movements. My new phone already knows when I’m looking at it; how hard would it be to detect when I wink?

  7. I eat while reading all the time. I have a voyage with Page Press which I keep turned off, preferring to swipe. Eating, even something as messy as barbecued ribs, just isn’t an issue. All I have to do is keep one little finger away from the food and use that to turn pages.

    I’ve been reading with Paperwhites and Voyages since shortly after the first Paperwhite was available. I don’t and can’t eat very greasy food although at times I cheat. I often read while eating. I can’t recall having ever gotten food on the screen and I don’t bother to be particularly careful about it other than making sure to keep my little finger away from the food. Actually I don’t even think about it. I just do it.

    I realize there are a few people who really need the buttons due to disabilities of one sort or another, but I think for the most part this is a very tiny issue that gets blown out of proportion because these devices are so good we just can’t find anything else to complain about. That’s not to say it’s not a sincere complaint. I’m sure it is. But if Amazon did something really bad in their design or even something less than excellent then we could complain about that and everyone would soon forget that there aren’t any buttons.

    My first touch screen Kindle was the first Kindle Touch. I started not to get it because it didn’t have buttons and when I got it I quickly decided to return it for the same reason. I live in a small town and I bought it in a city about 50 miles away and I don’t have a car so while I was trying to arrange a ride I kept using it. Then I got a way to get there and I packaged it up and sat down and started reading on my Kindle Keyboard again for the first time in about a week or 10 days. After all my complaining about no buttons I found them very awkward. I kept trying to swipe the screen to turn the page and the thing just laughed at me.

    So I unboxed it and sold that sadistic Kindle Keyboard and never looked back. I suspect a lot of people who refuse to get a newer Kindle because of the buttons will be like me, they’ll get used to it and not even realize it for a while.


  8. I have owned the Kindle 2, Kindle Touch 3G, The basic Kindle with buttons, the Fire HD and the Paperwhite 2. After I got the Touch, I bought the basic for the buttons as the touchscreen jumped ahead pages. The Paperwhite is better but the screen is becoming less responsive. I keep the Touch for the text to speech. I gave the basic to my daughter when I got the Paperwhite. I am for physical buttons. The perfect e-reader would offer touch and buttons. I don’t think the voyage solves the problem. If the Kindle is to offer seamless reading, hitting the screen several times to get your page to turn or jumping ahead pages so you are lost, destroys that experience.

  9. I loved the buttons on the side of the original Kindles, and I hate not having them on the newer versions. I hate to swipe my hand across the screen constantly, as I am a very fast reader, and sometimes I just like to skim. Actually, I look ridiculous swatting my hand across the screen constantly! I agree with others, also, that sometimes you have to swipe and reswipe, as it doesn’t always work the first time. Annoying!

    For those of us who are fast readers, who like to skim, who like to eat while reading (count me in here, too), there is no question that physical buttons are much better. While audio turn commands could be useful for some, I would not care for this type of verbal disruption to my reading. I always found the discrete side buttons to be best way to turn pages, and I deeply regret not having them now.

  10. I miss the buttons that were on my old Kindle Keyboard. I find the “buttons” on my Voyage annoying, and using the one on the left hand side to go backwards always results in going forward (I tend to use my thumb). I also miss the button that let me change chapters. My perfect Kindle would have those buttons with the rest of the Voyage. But then I would find something else to complain about. ha ha

  11. I prefer page turn buttons. That said I now primarily use a Kobo HD Aura which has no buttons. Any number of reasons I prefer buttons, I think all discussed in the article or in the comments. Buttons should should either be on both sides for left or right handers… or the screen should be rotatable by 180 degrees to accommodate left-right handedness.

    The original Nuvomedia Rocket Ebook let you rotate the screen display to put the turn bottons where it would suit you.

  12. I have had Kindles with page turning buttons and didnt care much for them. I have turned off the page turning button feature off of my Voyage as I was always accidentally turning pages just by holding the device in my hand. It’s not a feature I use. I do understand than many people like the feature but not me.

    I solve the greasy food issue by using my small finger or barring that, a knuckle works too.

  13. The problem with screen touching, imho, is that you have to watch specifically where to avoid hitting a footnote that takes you off the current page, and then it’s sometimes doggone difficult to get return to that page. Anyone who’s experienced the Keyboard model mighr agree with my view that its side buttons were the easiest to completely forget when engrossed in a book. I now have the voyage with haptic press points. Even with these on the setting for lightest touch, the wrist muscles become a bit noticeable if reading for an extended period. Perhaps the new Oasis buttons are more like the Keyboard’s to operate, which would be a great incentive for me to switch to the Oasis when its exorbitantly high price eventually falls.

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