Monday, June 21, 2010

KindleText Key: Line spacing, Darker font / Nook $199/$149 / Kno tablet

The new Kindle software update, v2.5.x, has been described by many Kindle International (Oct. 2009) owners as providing darker fonts and more screen contrast.

  The older Kindle 2 U.S. (pre Oct 2009) model does not seem to have been affected, at least not according to most of the font-change reports in the Kindle forums.

Increasing (or decreasing) font size
  If wanting darker fonts while reading, you can try increasing the font size from the default '3' to '4' as shown in the illustration at the left.  That's done with the 'Aa' key, also known by longtime Kindle owners as the "fonts key" but called the "text key" in Amazon's v2.5.x help area.  That key is right next to the Spacebar, to its right, as you face it.  In writing this, I just rediscovered Amazon's illustration showing the text-key location and the font-size changer.
  Kindle-edition subscribers receiving the blog on their Kindles may also be able to click on the link to see the illustration as it's a rare faster-loading image.  Since they use a security link (https), maybe not.

Decreasing amount of spacing between lines
  This particular trick works only with Kindle-2, 6" models and not the largerKindle DX.

  One disadvantage of using font size '4' setting (for some) is that there are less words on a page, which means page turning is needed more often.

  One way to get a few more words on the page without decreasing font size is to decrease instead the spacing between lines, which some may find too large.

  I think this is undocumented, but if you feel the spacing between lines is too large you can decrease that too.

Hold down the shift & alt keys with your left hand and then type a number that is smaller than the default size '3' -- in this case you'd type '2' and you'll get more spacing between the lines.
  Typing '1' by the way gets the same results as typing '2'...

  I use these setting when under dimmer lighting such as lamps (I don't like overhead lighting), at night.

  These font-size and line-spacing settings made by you will stay put until you change them again.  There's always an instant-preview of the new look in each case.

You can of course go in the other direction too, decreasing font size and correspondingly increasing spacing between lines.

Refreshing your screen's e-ink distribution
Sometimes you'll see a bit of ghosting or possibly fonts that appear thinner
and thus less black.
  Hold down the alt-key and type 'g' at the same time, and that will refresh the e-ink distribution. I sometimes do it 2 to 3 times.  It uses the battery anytime you change the screen display, but the Kindle has plenty of juice most of the time -- unless you keep wireless On, which brings quite a drain.
  So turn off your wireless when not needing it for downloading books or for the Sync and Check for Items Menu option which lets Amazon servers know you would like them to back up your latest-read pages, your bookmarks and -- if you enable them under the Menu -- any annotations, while delivering any pending Kindle books and/or newspapers, magazines, blogs.
  This will also back up changes you've made in your Collections.

Words per Line
You'll see this option under the font-size choices.  It allows you to see the text in a smaller 'column' so that your eyes don't have to go across the screen horizontally as much.  It's probably used more when you're using small font sizes though. (On the 9.7" Kindle DX a smaller column is often appreciated.)
  The default is text to the edges, while the other choices give wider margins and will show less words per line.

Screen Rotation
Remember that you can use the Aa text key (fonts key) feature seen at the bottom -- rotating the screen to display in Landscape mode.  This is especially helpful for PDF files and can help when viewing web pages too.

The older Kindle 1
The older Kindle 1 actually has a default spacing equivalent of '5' in effect, which is unchangeable.  It also has a fatter font, which some find darker, as more black ink particles are seen on the screen and Amazon uses Bold fonts more (as I wish they would in the older Kindle 2 U.S. model.

Some feel that smaller fonts and line-spacing make for a nicer looking page if you're focusing on aesthetics, but in some cases that can make your eyes work harder.  Everyone's eyes are different of course.

B&N is wisely putting out a WiFi-only Nook and also lowering the price of the current WiFi-3G model (3G mobile-wireless useable only at the store rather than full-web access like the Kindle's, now included at no added charge globally to a large extent). See CNet's report.
  $199 for the regular Nook, $149 for the WiFi only, with no 3G.

But Amazon will have to cut pricing somewhat despite now enabling full-web access all over the globe.  It'd be nice to see lower Kindle pricing, of course.

 Shouldn't the Agency plan for e-books, even if fought by Amazon, benefit Amazon where they were losing money on bestsellers?  Maybe that could help subsidize a price decrease in the Kindle readers.

Border's Kobo will suffer because, at $149, it has NO basic features other than straight reading currently and public library access.  It has no Search of a book (useful for finding characters and events), no dictionary, no annotations.  It does have some bad bugs they're trying to fix.

But the $149 Nook with wifi only is a good buy if you can bear with the slow, menu-heavy implementation of the functions for Search book, Dictionary (fewer results), and annotations made that the Nook owner can't easily find later.  Maybe the new update coming will help.  Kindle owners may be able to thank B&N for doing this.  One can hope.
 And Amazon's policy has been to give refunds of price differences within 30 days of a purchase of a model that has had a price decrease.

Those interested in the DUAL 7" screen color LCD, one of the screens doubling as a (virtual) keyboard, at 1.9 pounds, can view the hands-on article by Laptop Magazine.

At that price, I don't think it's targeting the Kindle as some news reports say, but more the KNO dual-screen tablet already lusted after by college students.

Check often:  Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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  1. I did some screenshots which do side by side comparisons of pre-2.5 vs. 2.5 default text. They're on my blog at

    Note that only sizes 2, 3, and 4 had any changes.

    Also I've seen comments on some of the Kindle forums that 'full' justification has been dialed back to what it was prior to the 2.3 update. I have noticed particularly when using larger text sizes that there are more ragged right margins in otherwise fully justified text, on the lines with fewer (longer) words. It seems they are now (again?) limiting the amount of white space inserted between words in order to achieve fully justified text. I guess this might be a little better, though I don't have a strong opinion about it, as I do most of my reading at smaller text sizes, where it doesn't come into play as much. People are still upset that they took away the full/left justification toggle in K2, but I think you can't please everyone all of the time on this stuff.

  2. Wow, that was fast! K2 is now $189! Was I just a complete idiot to have paid $359 for mine?

  3. Tom, of the half-empty glass :-)

    Would you have been a complete idiot to buy an HD tv set during its first year for several times more than you'd pay more while being able to use it already for a few years?

    You could have waited 1-1/2 to 2 years and just read on paper. Were we idiots to pay for the first VCRs or DVD recorders when they were more expensive? Or did we enjoy them for a good while.

    Economies of scale - and consumer realities...

  4. I am not sure if this is the place to comment, but it seemed as good as any. The new software upgrade to 2.5 is a winner...with one small exception. Has anyone else noticed that it requires more clicks to get to the TOC in a book? It is rather cumbersome. Other than that, I love the Collections feature and the password protect capability.

  5. Andrys,

    I don't think your claim of "no font improvement on US only Kindles" is accurate. If anything, it seems to be the other way around, I seem to see more K2i owners saying they can't report a difference in fonts. My K2 US had a definite improvement along with many others in the Amazon forum.

  6. Tamas,
    My actual wording was:
    "The older Kindle 2 U.S. (pre Oct 2009) model does not seem to have been affected, at least not according to most of the font-change reports in the Kindle forums."

    I've followed it fairly closely but this was what it seemed to me in days of reading most forum threads.

    However, I'm glad to read that some U.S. models, in your own read, were improved in font darkness.

    And that it affected yours well.

    Thanks for the report.

  7. Courtney,
    They added more features to the 'Menu' page, so it would have taken more cursor down movements anyway, to get to the Table of Contents, probably. That you could see it right away, before, probably helped, but I find just navigating down that Menu popup box is sluggish.

    Now when you press MENU, you are usually put right on the GoTo so you can click it right then and then you're placed on the box; press down once and you're on Location, once to the left, and you're on "beginning" and one more to the left to get Table of contents.

    So, that Click and then 1 Down and 2 Left are a total of 4 movements. With what is on the Menu now, you probably would have had to go down (slowly) 4 or more steps anyway.

    Glad the password option works for you -- I'm too lazy to have to type the password each time I want it brought out of sleep mode, but I read that this is necessary and do not know if it really is. Makes sense though.

  8. Andrys,
    I wasn't really complaining about having paid $359..still paid for itself over cost of paper books. Plus we have no shelf space left for paper books...

  9. Tom,
    I was just wanting to razz you that day :-)

    Yes, I remember paying $359 for Kindle 1 !

    Even earlier birds paid $399 (!)

  10. It seems that the text on my screen has shifted up - so that the first line is not visable and there is white space at the bottom. How do I correct this?

  11. Independent Thinker,
    That's a new 'feature' -- After the first page, the top status info goes away so that you can read more on a given page. To get the title of the book, or the battery status, or the time, press Menu and that status will show up.


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