August 22, 2016 – Update on Page Flip. Amazon recently updated its reader software to solve one of the longest standing problems with e-reading. Formerly, it was difficult if not impossible to jump around in a book and land back at the point you began, rendering non-fiction books with lots of graphs, images, and references virtually useless for the serious student. In fact, Amazon’s early experiment with the academic placement of Kindle readers in colleges and universities foundered on exactly this point. Now, you can view your exact position in a book (with real page numbers attached in many cases!), browse to other pages, and jump back to your original starting point in you wish. This is a major structural improvement to the reading experience on the Kindle. Learn more at Amazon HERE.
January 1, 2015 – Update for newest versions of the Kindle. Page numbers have always been a consternation for e-book readers, and no more so for any group than for Kindle owners. In the last few updates to the Kindle, Amazon has partially remedied this problem. If you want to know the number of the page you are on in your Kindle book, read on!
If your Kindle book includes page numbers, you can also track your location according to the page number in print books. Not all Kindle books include page numbers. Because you can change the font size and other features, you may be able to view more than one page on your screen at one time. Your progress shows the page number for the text displayed at the top of the screen. (from Amazon website, emphasis mine)
So, the ability to view page numbers, if they exist, depends on using the Menu button on your Kindle. Just as you need to click on the Menu to check the time of day at the top, so you need the Menu to give you access to the page number. Today, the newer Kindles can tell you much more than the page number, including the estimated time it will take you to finish the chapter you are currently in. See the related article for information on this feature. Not all books have page numbers because it costs money to add them in. A Kindle book can resize fonts and reflow the text because it is not divided up into arbitrary units called “pages.” So, if the publisher of the book you purchased went to the expense of correlating the e-book file to the page in the print book, you will be able to see them in this fashion, but only on Kindle 3 or later.
You can see if a Kindle book you are thinking of purchasing contains page numbers by lloking below the title area for a notice. No notice, no page numbers. Click on the image to the left for a live demonstration of where to find this information.
Also note the other highlighted passage, that you may “flip the page” on your Kindle and see that the “page number” hasn’t changed. If you have enlarged the font for the book on the Kindle, this is the cause. With a larger font, it may take several Kindle screens worth of text to complete a single page in the print book.
Related article: Does My Kindle Book Have Real Page Numbers?
Related article: The New Kindle Lineup and What It Means to Educators
When the Kindle first came out, the absence of page numbers created more than a little bit of anxiety. 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!