This is a much bruited topic and one that creates a little bit of anxiety for us bibliophiles who have made the conversion to the Kindle. How can I tell what page I am on??? I mean, I have only spent my whole life using page numbers as the reference point for a) how far along in the book I am, and b) any references to the text that I want to make in a post, article, or other scholarly writing.
This lingering anxiety tells me something about the “purpose” of the Kindle. That purpose is reading in a “frictionless” way (adjective courtesy of Jeff Bezos). The Kindle is not very well set up to address these other little anxieties I feel.
So, I got out my calculator to see if I could find a rule for converting Kindle’s “position number” into the “page numbers” of the actual book.
OK, first problem: which actual book–the hardcover, the paperback? First editions, fifth edition? Right there you see the intractability of the problem.
But I forged on, nonetheless, with my hardcover copy of Carol Dweck’s Mindset. You get the wackiest correlation if you try to literally use every paper page fo the book. First, all those pages aren’t in the Kindle edition. Second, spacing considerations make it almost impossible to come up with a formula that is anywhere near accurate if you try to use all the pages.
I got closest to a useful formula when I took the first actual numbered page of the book (not including the introduction)–that is, a page with “1″ on it, and looked up the corresponding “position” on my Kindle. As it turns out, Page 1 appears at position “95″ on the Kindle. Then, I went to the last full page of the text, page 239 (not the notes, index, or other “last” page) and checked the position: 4035. So, I had 3940 positions spread over 236 pages (the first page of text was actually page 3). 3940 divided by 236 yields 16.69 positions per page.
Using this formula I could pretty much find the page in book if I knew the position. In all my test cases, I landed within one page of the text I was searching for if I divided the position number by 16.69.
Whew! If you have a friend with the print book and you want to point them to a passage, use of the chapter number might be your best bet. If they want to point you to a passage, you can search for a key term. Or you can both try this little formula and wait for the MLA to provide us some guidance!