The Kobo Forma as a manga reader?


I’ve read so much manga on my Kindle Paperwhite, most recently the Astra Lost in Space series again by the legendary Kenta Shinohara, and more Fairy Tail than I care to admit. But the screen was always slightly too small to read a manga comfortably, and the contrast was sometimes crisp, sometimes not.

Manga fundamentally can’t be reflowed on electronic paper displays, like regular text can. E-ink displays can’t redraw fast enough to implement pinch-to-zoom or scrolling without jarring screen flashes. The Kindle lets you tap individual comic panels to zoom in, but like my jokes it gets old fast. It’s a shame, because unlike Western comics, manga is tantalisingly close to being the same size as a regular paperback novel.

The only solution then is to scale the page down to fit the screen. And it wasn’t until Clara and explored Kinokuniya again that I realised just how much detail I was missing with all that electronic smooshing. Which is a shame, because at least half the reason one reads manga is to enjoy the art.

Which is why I’m so intrigued by the Kobo Forma I just learned about. It gets much closer to a standard manga page than my Kindle:

  • Some pretty shojo manga I stole from Clara ≈ 225 mm
  • Kindle Paperwhite ≈ 153 mm, 68% the size
  • Kobo Forma ≈ 203 mm, 90% the size

It also has a couple of other important advantages, like having a pronounced chin to hold with forward and back buttons that are always positioned under your thumb; just my first Kindle in 2011. It also natively reads epubs that other online stores publish. Converting to Kindle’s mobi was always a pain, and it never quite preserved the formatting. I’ve also decided to transition to buying through the Kobo store for $reasons, and their iOS app has come a long way since I tried it years ago.

Ebooks come with their own shortcomings, but they’ve been wonderful for me for so many reasons that I’ve talked about here over the years. I’d also cough up the huge price tag even over something like a multi-functional iPad, precisely because the outside world couldn’t interrupt me with notifications and the Internets.

I might do some more research, but price aside this looks like it could be the one. Reading does wonders for my anxiety, and I could see getting so many hours of downtime and joy out of one.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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