Choosing an EBR (E-Book Reader) based solely on the hardware is like choosing your phone company based on your phone.
That’s not always a bad reason. If you want a particular phone and it can only be used with one carrier, sure, that’s going to influence your pick.
However, you should be looking at other things, too. Do they have the coverage? What are their plans like? How is their Customer Service?
While it’s weird to me to think of a piece of hardware I own as temporary, I have to be honest…it is. Believing that I’ll be using the same Kindle in my hands ten years from now would be naive. I still have my first Kindle, but I don’t read on it regularly.
So, I recommend that people examine what I call the “Kindle Service”. That’s what Amazon gives you outside of the hardware.
One of those services? Whispersync.
This requires that your device interact with Amazon’s server, which then interacts with another device on your account.
I find some confusion about that in the Kindle community forums, and that makes sense. There isn’t really a good equivalent for paperbooks. I think it’s worth going through it.
Let’s think about it as though you were doing this with paper, just to make the concept clear.
Pretend you’ve bought a hardback copy of, oh, War and Peace. It’s a beautifully illustrated coffee table version…weighing several pounds.
You also buy a paperback copy, which you leave in a drawer at work to read at lunch.
The first night at home with the hardback, you read fifty pages. When you get to work the next day, you want to open the paperback to the same spot and continue reading.
How would you do it?
In the real world, you’d probably just remember what page you were on…maybe write it down. You might deliberately try to stop reading at the end of a chapter, or some logical stopping point. You’d have some sense of how for you were into the book by the visual appearance of how many pages were on each side of where you stopped.
Now, let’s say there was a service like Whispersync for paperbooks.
When you finished reading that hardback at home, you’d call into the service and report what page you were on.
The person with whom you spoke would be in a central location…let’s just say Seattle. That person would call someone else, who would go into your office, and stick a bookmark in the paperback at the same place you stopped in the hardback.
Described that way, it seems ridiculously indulgent.
Well, that’s pretty much what Whispersync does.
One notable difference?
The equivalent of your hardback (let’s say it’s your Kindle) calls the central person for you.
Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but I use it frequently…albeit, a bit differently than this scenario. Let’s start with the equivalent of this one, though.
You read until page 50 on your Kindle.
Your Kindle communicates with Amazon’s servers about where you stopped.
Amazon communicates with your SmartPhone (the equivalent of the paperback) to tell it where you are in the book.
You open the book on your SmartPhone, and you can pick up right where you left off…without even thinking about it.
Does this work perfectly every time?
What can mess it up?
There are those connections between your Kindle and the server and the server and your SmartPhone…that’s going to be one of the big causes.
For example, if you have the wireless turned off on your Kindle, it can’t make that call to the Amazon server. That means your SmartPhone can’t be told where you are.
That’s why syncing with Amazon can help.
On the Kindle Keyboard, Kindle (the $79/$109 model I call the “Mindle”), and the Kindle DX (I presume), you do
Home-Menu-Sync and Check for Items
Another issue is what location is sent to the server.
Obviously, the Kindle can’t update your location every time you read a word…that would be a huge battery drain on your Kindle. You also might accidentally move an extra “page” ahead…and you wouldn’t want that sent. What it sends is “furthest page read” (I think, personally, that should be “farthest”, but no biggie), not “last page read”.
That’s worth addressing in and of itself.
Let’s say a book has endnotes in it…you click a link on a page (if the publisher has formatted the book that way…that’s up to them) and read the note at the end of the book.
If the Kindle constantly set your “furthest page read” (FPR), it would mark it that you’ve read to the end of the book.
That does happen to people, by the way. I see that question quite a bit on the forums.
I think it sets your FPR when you: let the Kindle sleep; go to Home; or turn the Kindle off (but not, perhaps, when you restart it).
I’m not positive about those…I’m not entirely sure about the sleeping part. the Kindle would also have to sync with Amazon’s servers for it to be recorded and passed on to another device, of course.
My habit is to go to Home when I finish reading, so I can set that FPR. I’m confident about that one working.
So, if I read an endnote, I first hit the Back button to get back to where I’ve really read in the book. I never go to Home or let it sleep or turn it off with it at the end of the book, if I haven’t really read that far yet.
What happens if you do that?
You can contact Kindle Support
and have them reset it. I’d love to have us be able to reset it ourselves, maybe at
but not yet.
I also think that Topaz format books didn’t do this properly. I say “didn’t” in the past tense, just because I haven’t been noticing Topaz format books lately. I don’t know, but I wonder if those are going away in favor of the Kindle Format 8 books. I don’t know that, though…just wondering.
Now, I mentioned I don’t do this quite this way. I don’t let Whispersync automatically set my place on another device…but I still take advantage of Amazon’s servers knowing my position.
You can turn Whispersync on or off by going to that Manage Your Kindle page
Manage Your Devices
Under the list of your Kindles, you’ll see your setting choice.
You will typically want it on if one person reads the same book on two different devices. That’s the Kindle/SmartPhone scenario.
However, you should have it off if two people read the same book at the same time on different devices.
We do that in my house. The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library has an impact on that: I’ve recently finished Water for Elephants which I borrowed that way. My Significant Other has just started it, but we certainly could have been both reading it at the same time (my SO was finishing another book first).
Whispersync would have made that difficult…since it would keep setting our pages to whatever was the farthest page either of us had read.
I have, though, recently read The Hunger Games on multiple devices.
The only difference with Whispersync off is that, when I open the book, I hit Menu and then do
Menu – Sync to Furthest Page Read
That lets me control it…sync or don’t sync.
One more thing…Amazon says:
“With device synchronization on, your Kindle and Kindle Reading Apps will always sync your last page read. Synchronization will also keep track of any bookmarks, highlights, or notes that you add so you can view them on another device.”
I’m not quite sure about the last part. If you allow annotations back-up (which is typically done in Home-Menu-Settings), it’s going to back up your bookmarks,highlights, and/or notes…whether you have Whispersync on or not, I think.
I just tested this.
I made a note in Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) on my Touch.
I then did a sync on that device.
I opened the book on my Kindle Fire. I wasn’t as far on the Fire as I was on the Touch (I prefer reading on the Touch, although I’ve now read a big chunk of a book on the Fire: not as unpleasant as I thought it might be). I used the menu to tell the Fire to sync. It did that. It still doesn’t show my note.
My note did show at
so it was backed up for me.
Hmm…at some point, I’ll test this more. I’m curious what happens if you create notes on two different devices that are in the same location in the book…and you have Whispersync active. Do you get two notes? Probably.
Well, that’s about it.
To summarize what I think is the most successful (but not always required) syncing sequence:
- Read to your desired position on device A
- Return to Home
- Sync with Amazon on device A
- Sync with Amazon on device B
- Open the book on device B. If you have Whispersync active, it should open to the same page. If you don’t, you can use the menu to sync
Hope that helps…
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.