Friday, October 30, 2009

Nook v. Kindle

I will come back soon to write regular posts again, but a couple of people have asked me if I would have bought the Nook instead of the Kindle if I were buying now. That seems an easy thing to write about between catching up on all this other work. My answer is no. I'm thrilled the Nook exists because I have been worried about Amazon having too much control over the book market, but I'm happy with the Kindle. If I were picking one right now I would ultimately pick on the same basis that I picked the Kindle over the Sony reader: availability and price of the books I want.

1. Nook improvements.
So Nook did do some things that are cool. You can replace the battery yourself instead of having to send the machine in (though the Kindle battery should last a very long time), and you can use a memory card, just in case you want to carry more than 1,500 books around at one time. This makes the device just a little thicker and about an ounce heavier.

The buzz is all about the color touch screen. It doesn't appeal to me. I don't like virtual keyboards much, but that is a personal thing. Mostly I just see it as a battery drainer. However, if you like the idea of seeing color pictures of your books and you like virtual keyboards, you may love it.

I was excited when I heard that you could lend Nook books. Then I found out that you could lend a book for 14 days one time...ever. Not so impressive. I guess I will still hope that Amazon decides to let me lend books.

2. Non-Improvements
Nook didn't fix the things that most frustrate me about the Kindle: lack of organizational tools and no page numbers. I'm beginning to figure out that the lack of page numbers is not something a device can fix. It is a problem with all ebooks, in nearly all formats, on all devices. The Kindle has location numbers and will tell me how far through a book I am (e.g. 47%) which is fine if I am just reading for myself. Part of what I do with books though is talk to other people about them. Right now I am teaching a seminar and we are allowing the students to get paper or electronic copies of the book. It is a small class and everyone has a sense of humor about it, but it is a nightmare. If the people with paper give us a phrase, we ebook folks can search for it. If we want them to find the place we are reading we have to say something like, "um...three paragraphs before the subheading..."

The lack of organizational tools though is just horrible. I know have over 100 Kindle books. I can search them by author, or title. My Kindle is set so that the books I have most recently read are on the top. I can't ask it to show me all my non-fiction books, all my mysteries, whatever. On the up side, Kindle won't let me buy a book I've already bought and the Amazon "My Collection" page automatically lists everything I have ever bought from Amazon and does allow me to keep an organized record of what I have bought.

3. Books!
Okay, so this is why we consider these things, right? We like to read books. B&N is claiming a larger books store than Amazon based primarily on a deal with Google Books to make available out of print books. Apparently, there is a way to get those books on your Kindle. If that really interests you, read this.

What I strongly recommend that you do is pull up B&N's & Amazon search pages. Now search for books you have bought or considered buying recently. Here are some of my results:

Kindle: $12.95
Nook: $14.99

Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series:
Kindle: all 9 available, $5.59-$9.99
Nook: numbers 5-9 available, $6.99-$20.00

Peter Singer, The Life You Can Save:
Kindle: $9.99
Nook: $17.60

Your results may differ of course, but for me the choice is still clear.


  1. As a Kindle owner that writes a website about Kindle, I was also wondering if I would have chosen the Nook over Kindle had I had the choice. However, I agree with you on all counts. I'm not impressed by the color touchscreen of the Nook, and the LendMe feature is not nearly as impressive once you learn the stipulations. Ultimately, I'm glad Amazon has some competition because it means the e-book market should start to expand more rapidly. But I'm definitely satisfied with my purchase of the Kindle.

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  3. This isn't the type of info I usually tune in here for, but as an avid (book) reader, it was very useful! So thanks! :-)


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