Using Kindle Paperwhite as journal reader

N.B. I wrote this post a while ago and didn't notice it sitting in draft rather than published. Since then I have discovered a further flaw, the Paperwhite seems to actually be worse at handling PDFs than previous models due to a buffer overflow issue of some sort related to a lack of addressable memory. When it works it's a useful tool, but this issue can be infuriating, leading to a cycle of the document being forced closed and reopening it multiple times in one reading session. 

Kindle Paperwhite
As a reading device Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite represents a great improvement compared to previous generations. In particular the e-ink screen has been improved to a point where I can use it without getting upset by the distracting flashes the screen makes when it refreshes, though I note that many people I've spoken to with those older models had not even noticed the momentary blackouts. In any case, they are now infrequent and brief enough to be mostly bearable.


Of course, the Paperwhite is a decent device for reading books: here the selection is improving but still not entirely comprehensive, and the Kindle book store is worse than useless for nonfiction ancient history books, being so polluted with historical fiction set in that time. This is not good and unless you search for specific titles, effectively negating the store as an academic resource as there's no point to browsing. With the frequency of strike-outs when title searching, you'll likely get bored of trying to find anything useful pretty quickly. This is especially so when using the Paperwhite to access the shop directly, as the interface is a bit slow, monochrome and washed out.

However, my main reason for getting hold of a Paperwhite was to use the feature to send or transfer documents to it for viewing. Usually I do this by sending an email to a special email address (this has to be done from a whitelisted email address). You can specify to convert the document to ebook format if it contains usable text. This will present the document in the native Kindle format, with the ability to change text size, highlight, look up words, make notes etc. If your source file is merely a scan, i.e. image only, then you're out of luck and will just have to zoom in on the image. Here a .exe called k2pdfopt can help you resize to something more appropriate to the form factor.

I'm still working out my work flow on this one and I'd love to figure out a workable automation process using Dropbox, but for now transferring ad hoc via email has mostly worked OK for me. It's lighter than carrying around hard copy, saves on printing and crucially is much easier on my eyes than reading on LCD. Oh, and it's back lit. All around a win so far that's becoming integrated into my academic routine.

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