Even in a era in which viewing devices of all shapes and sizes are readily available, the Kindle Paperwhite has found its niche. The spiritual descendant of the original Kindle reading-centric models, the no-glare, easy-on-the-eyes Paperwhite has become Amazon's best-selling Kindle device. Amazon has announced today that they are releasing a "Manga Model" Kindle Paperwhite via Amazon Japan, with 32GB of storage (8x the standard for Paperwhite) to handle the needs of storing artwork, plus faster page-turning speed to prevent any lag in handling the heavier files.
It's an intriguing move, and one that reminds me of the virtually-forgotten pre-iOS, pre-Android days when the comics industry thought that the future of comics was digital paper — part of the point of that being that the glow and glare of a typical device screen was less suitable for reading a comic than it was for watching a movie.
Readers adjusted, but there's no disputing that digital is a perceptually different experience than paper, in ways that go beyond navigation and interface (and yes, as a print nerd who's spent a lot of time converting original comic art from paper to digital and back again, I've spent too much time thinking about this). The nature and quality of the linework is different, the finest lines can be lost in the glowy warmth even on today's HD screens, and it can be hard to preserve the dynamic line shape that the best inkers bring to their work — particularly on smaller screens.
The Paperwhite concept doesn't address all of that, but it might address some, and of course it's well suited for the Manga market which is dominated by black and white material.
The Kindle Paperwhite 32GB is available for pre-order now from Amazon Japan, ahead of an Oct 21 ship date. I'll be fascinated to see what Manga readers think of it when they get it.