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Following a comment on this blog by Nick Lewis on my quick thought about the Kindle I’ve been looking in more detail about how the pagination matches up on Kindle ebooks across three different devices, a PC, an ipad and an android phone. Both the PC and ipad versions show both pages and locations, the android app just shows the locations.
I’ve only so far looked at three fairly new novels as most of the older material I’ve looked at didn’t seem to show page numbers at all. In all three cases the location will take you to the same place within the text, or at least to the page that contains that location.
When it comes to pages the PC and ipad versions have the same numbers of pages but the content on each page isn’t exactly identical. In the samples I tried it varied from a few lines difference, to several paragraphs or more. Given the variations in screen size then it probably isn’t surprising (and I’ll check it against the Kindle itself to see if there is more variation). But the variation means that to give an accurate reference you are not only going to have to specify that it is the Kindle version of the ebook, but also the device you are using to access it.
There are some other thoughts about citing kindle ebooks on the web on Booksprung for example http://booksprung.com/how-to-cite-a-kindle-ebook that has an interesting discussion. Our institutional Harvard referencing guidance (OU Harvard Guide to Referencing December 2010) has this to say
4.4 ebooks on ebook readers
The correct format for referencing an ebook used on an ebook reader (such as a Kindle reader) is: Author, A. (year of ebook publication) Title of Book [ebook], place of publication, publisher.
Matthews, D. J. (2010) What Cats Can Teach Us [ebook],London, Penguin.
In-text citation: (Matthews, 2010) or Matthews (2010) notes that…
As page numbers are not available on ebook readers, use the chapters instead for indicating the location of a quoted section:
In-text quotation: Matthews notes that ‘kittens are often delightful’ (2010, Chapter 6)
This suggests referring to a chapter rather than trying to find specific page numbers. Although the Kindle at least now does now include page numbers the fact that they aren’t absolute and vary depending on your reader may mean that this is the best solution.
Owen Stephens (@ostephens) has just pointed out that you could use the percentage to provide a citation for exactly where you are referring to in the ebook. That is present in all the different types of Kindle apps I’ve tested.