Saturday, October 25, 2014

Newsprint v. Kindle -- my experience

Experimentally, I downloaded an issue of the Wall Street Journal to my Kindle Paperwhite and compared it with my newsprint version.

The tiny print of the newsprint version is unchangeable, whereas I can enlarge the type as much as I want on my Kindle. That was my primary motivation, but I also wanted to find out if I would miss the sensations that accompany newsprint reading.

In general, I love my Kindle. When I'm reading a narrative (novels, biographies), I find that it's easy to disappear into the story. I'm so immersed that I stop seeing the device.

But educational books, which I also read a lot of, are better in hard copy because I can easily skip, skim and revisit pages as my mind flits and flies between my own ideas and the book's contributions.

Sure, Kindle lets you "bookmark" and take notes, but it's slow and unappealing to change locations electronically. I feel like I'm learning less, too. Sometimes, I've purchased a second copy of the same book because I realized I needed it in hard-copy form, for easy jumping around.

That's where I was coming from in my experiment today.

To my surprise, I found that headlines differ. Same story, different headline. In some cases, photos differed. Check out the top-leftheadline below, compared to the one at right.

It's perhaps irrational, but something about this difference made me feel cheated.

Like a snob, I looked down on the electronic headlines. The substance was the same, but the newsprint versions were aesthetically pleasing, as if those writers tried harder because headlines are their specialty and craft. Am I right? I don't know.

It is nearly impossible to view the charts and graphs on the Kindle.


Major deal-breaker!

The Wall Street Journal is GREAT at meaningful and appealing charts that I actually enjoy taking the time to look at in detail, so that's a big loss.

I tried enlarging them the way I enlarge type, but it didn't work.

Below is the Kindle version of a graph. And below that, the newsprint version.

Below is a newsprint graph and photo combined. In the Kindle version, only the photo appeared.

Below are more images. The Kindle lets you see the lead story in each section via a single screenshot, which could be more efficient for someone who just wants info but doesn't care about experience. The newsprint version requires physical removal of each layer to see the same headlines.

I can also choose a non-graphical view of the same options, and then choose one section to see in a bit more detail. Below are four headlines at once, which are A2-A4 in newsprint.

I won't be quitting my newsprint subscription any time soon. I can see myself preferring Kindle on crowded planes and trains. But at home, in a coffee shop or in the passenger seat of our car (husband driving), I prefer rattling my pages and skimming with my head moving up, down and sideways.

Ideally, the print would be bigger. When I dive into an article, I pull the paper a bit closer to my face, but I can still read it without glasses. That said, I wish I didn't have to bring up the matter at all!

Experiment completed. I wish I could enlarge the type of the newsprint, but that's my only complaint. On Kindle, I have a variety of complaints and the benefit of the compact size doesn't outweigh them.