US MeFite moving to London asks the eternal question: Kindle or Nook?
April 29, 2010 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I am in the process of preparing to move to London for the next four years to attend college. As I have sold off a large portion of my beloved library, I don't want to find myself doing the same exercise in 4.5 years time when I return to the US. Coming late to the ebook reader dance, I ask you which of these two will be the better choice in light of current capabilities (and in addition to the fact that I want a reader to buy and read books, extras do not figure into the equation) - the Kindle or the Nook?
posted by caveat empress to Technology (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I love my Kindle, which I've had for a year and have read many books on (and used it for the New York Times for several months (I stopped because I was reading it too much)). Reading on it is a pleasure. If I were anticipating using textbooks on it, I'd get the big one ("DX"?). And, I think the Kindle is far more likely than the Nook to still be around 5 years from now.
posted by neuron at 10:38 AM on April 29, 2010

There are free Kindle apps for the PC and the Mac. (and the iPhone) Downloading one and getting a couple free books from Amazon will let you try it out and see how you like it.

Indeed, depending on how you want to actually use the device, a netbook w the Kindle app may actually be a better choice than the actual Kindle. Granted, they don't have the actual e-paper display, but they fake it well enough
posted by Naberius at 10:43 AM on April 29, 2010

I've had my Kindle for a few years now and really love it -- I wasn't as impressed with the Nook when I played with it in person, it didn't seem as comfortable to hold, for one. Plus, more content is available for the Kindle as of now, or so I understand.
posted by at 10:48 AM on April 29, 2010

I got a nook mostly based on the feel of it-it’s easier to use with either hand, for instance-and I prefer the touch screen to a physical keyboard. Technically you can lend your books to someone else with the nook (it disappears off your reader and reappears on theirs for two weeks). . . but you’d have to find a second person who has one.

There’s not too much of a difference, honestly.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:52 AM on April 29, 2010

Get the big Kindle, if you get either of them. What I've found, though, is that the Kindle (I have the smaller one...) is very nice for recreational reading, but borderline bad for academic stuff. Here are the problems I've encountered:
  • No page numbers. No page numbers means finding text in class or citing text in papers is unnecessarily difficult.
  • The highlight function is nice, but not enough. The notes function would be very nice, if the keyboard weren't a PITA.
  • Oh, this is the thing that really bothers me. Amazon has kindle apps for PC/Mac. "Great!" I thought, "I can do notes and highlights there, and it'll be super handy to have all my books open on my computer while I work on papers!" I thought this until I discovered:
    • You can't take notes or make highlights on the Kindle app.
    • You can only have one book open at a time.
  • Browsing through books aimlessly / semi-randomly is pretty difficult, and maybe this says something about my process, but, I miss being able to do that while working on papers.
Okay, now that I've written that out, my revised advice is: If you're just looking for something to do recreational reading on, get a Kindle 2 or DX if you can afford it. If you're looking for something that you can use in your studies... wait for someone to come out with an eReader that actually supports the way academics use texts.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:52 AM on April 29, 2010

Not an expert, but last Christmas I did a enough research to become confused. I can't predict the future, but the Kindle has been very propitiatory in the way they sell Kindle books. Only Kindles can read what amazon sells and Kindles, with only a few exceptions, can only read amazon books.

B&N claim that that won't be the case with the Nook. Though they will sell Nook ebooks, it already can read Gutenberg Project things (which are free - and I guess are just pdfs). The person I bought it for, loves it, and didn't actually pay for a book for the first three months.

The Kindle has a longer history, and many people do love them. But I would be very wary of any company that is trying to protect its money stream the way Amazon seems to be. Barnes&Noble at least say they aren't.

+ the Nook has a touch screen rather than buttons.
posted by Some1 at 11:00 AM on April 29, 2010

If possible, I would definitely recommend using both of them in person if you can. What some people like for interface/handholding may irritate the bejesus out of you.
posted by antifuse at 11:00 AM on April 29, 2010

You can try out a nook at most B&N stores, if you have one nearby. I believe that B&N's website should tell you if a specific store has a kiosk store or not.

Some Targets have started selling the Kindle as well, but I'm not sure how wide that rollout was.

I believe Amazon also has a program where you can get in touch with local Kindle owners, and they can go over it with you.

In any case, as antifuse recommended, you should try out each one, and see what fits you better. Good luck!
posted by goateebird at 11:04 AM on April 29, 2010

Another vote for the Kindle.

As much as I love touchscreens I think the split screen on the Nook would screw with my head. I know that just having and using the iPad and going to read on the Kindle has at times gotten me to touch the screen on the Kindle in hopes of zooming or turning the page. And then I laugh at myself.

And I'm already well hooked into Amazon so I like that I can just have my billing done somewhere that I already spend a fair amount of money.

The larger library also helps.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:08 AM on April 29, 2010

I LOVE my Kindle. You can easily download free books from Project Gutenberg for it (just choose the Kindle-compatible file) and it also reads pdfs now. Classics are all free or very cheap. The only problem is that, since Apple opened its ebook store, publishers are charging more for ebooks on Amazon than they used to (this makes my mother insane with rage).

Anyway, the screen is great, it's nice and lightweight, and I find that I actually prefer it to paper books these days.
posted by leesh at 11:22 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love my Kindle too... However, owning a iPhone before I bought my Kindle, I do find myself touching the page as if it was a touchscreen. And the navigation is horrible; it reminded me of my pre-ipod mp3 players from 2000 or so. I've been spoiled. What is with that useless little joystick?

That being said, it's a joy to read on. Which is what it's supposed to be. Thw screen is truly amazing. However, I gave up trying to read anything technical, or even with footnotes. With the non-friendly navigation, it's just more trouble than it's worth. If you're going through the content of a book in sequential order, the kindle can't be beat. If you're not, then I would consider alternatives.

Another thing to note though -- Amazon charges an extra $2 for international delivery for each purchase made outside the US. (As a Canadian living 15 min from the border, this infuriates me.) But I'll give props to Amazon for the actual Kindle purchase... It was literally at my front door 24 hours after I placed my order. I was dumbstruck.
posted by cgg at 11:35 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I bought the smaller Kindle last month and, so far, I'm very pleased. Reading is very comfortable, much like reading a traditional pocket paperback. I have more confidence that the Kindle will be around for the long term, with books available, than the Nook. That's not because I expect B&N to drop the Nook next week. It's because the chances of B&N surviving are smaller than Amazon's chances.

Haven't used the larger Kindle, but small size and convenience are a priority for me. The bigger Kindle does have a bigger screen, but it is also, well, bigger.

It is in a publisher's interest to sell on as many platorms as possible, so I expect most books eventually to be available for Kindle, Nook,iPad, etc.
posted by justcorbly at 11:45 AM on April 29, 2010

I love my Kindle. I use it for pdf notes for classes, free ebooks online (it's pretty easy to get pretty much any kind of ebook on it, even if you have to use a middleman piece of software), and a ton of downloads from Amazon.

I was checking them both out over Christmas, and the thing that made the biggest difference, honestly, was that the Kindle page turns were a lot faster. Don't know if the Nook's fixed that or not.
posted by wending my way at 12:18 PM on April 29, 2010

Reportedly, the recent Nook firmware 1.3 release speeds up the page turns -- anecdotal reports say they're comparable to the Kindle's. (Whether those anecdotal reports could be astroturf, I dunno.)
posted by Zed at 1:14 PM on April 29, 2010

When considering the Nook for use outside of the USA you should bear in mind this point from the FAQ:

Can I use my NOOK while traveling abroad?
Yes, when you travel abroad, you can read any files that are already on your NOOK. You can connect to Wi-Fi® hotspots that do not use proxy security settings, such as those commonly used in hotels, and download eBooks and subscriptions already in your online digital library. You cannot, however, purchase additional eBooks and subscriptions.

posted by jonesor at 3:58 PM on April 29, 2010

If you're considering the larger Kindle DX, the Apple iPad (WiFi only) is currently only $10 more expensive than the DX. I would personally get an iPad, as I'd be able to do more stuff on it than just read. You may have other reasons to dislike the iPad (battery life, eyestrain), but in the (admittedly unlikely) event you haven't considered the iPad, you may want to.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 4:00 PM on April 29, 2010

I just dropped in to say exactly what jonesor said. Please go back up and read it.
posted by Houstonian at 5:33 PM on April 29, 2010

Hi empress! I was speaking with a tech journalist the other day, and he says that the iPad has basically retired the Kindle for him.
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:37 PM on April 29, 2010

I have both an original Kindle as well as an iPad. If all you want to do is read, the Kindle is the better reading experience -- it's lighter (and thus easier to hold) and I think it is faster in turning pages. You can read Kindle books on the iPad but not iPad books on the Kindle.

If you want to do more, such as surf the web, watch videos, and play games, the iPad is obviously the better choice.

I also vastly prefer the Amazon e-book buying experience to Apple's iBook store. You can browse/buy/preview Kindle books on just about any computing device whereas you can only browse/buy/preview iBooks on an iPad. I also think that Apple's UI for the iTunes store (which they use for the iBook store) is more clumsy to navigate. Finally, (at least for now) Kindle books are the same price or cheaper than iBooks.

However, if you want to view diagrams or photos, the iPad would be the better experience with the color screen.
posted by elmay at 9:24 AM on April 30, 2010

Anecdotal re: iPad/Kindle.

I got my iPad the day it went on sale. The next day I left for a ten day trip and for the first time left the Kindle at home. I regretted it before I even left the airport here in Denver.

Reading in low light on the iPad is the only time I was happy to have it. Outside during the day? Forget it. In a brightly lit room? Forget it. And my eyes did suffer fatigue after reading on the iPad for a couple hours.

The iPad is significantly heavier than the Kindle, even with the Kindle in a cover. It's harder to hold upright for any length of time without causing fatigue.

Now... it is worth noting that I haven't read a damn thing since that trip but that's because I"m too busy playing We Rule. *&($%&@!
posted by FlamingBore at 10:26 AM on April 30, 2010

Well, this has certainly ruled out the Nook for me, had a feeling it would go that way to start,.

The whole reason I did not pit said duo vs. the iPad is because, while the iPad has many (great!) features, right now I just do not need the icing. That, married to the fact that I drop everything like it's hot at one point or another. I do not think the iPad could take my abuse.

I am very concerned with the ability to actually buy books, the New York Times, and various textual pursuits. I am not a techie (wish I was, but I have a hard enough time following PChem) so, I like the idea of having access to investigating books on more than one platform, from the same source (point, Kindle)

I can put off the purchase until September, if that means the iPad might have more in store that makes it outweigh the Kindle that surface during the interim. I am simply so undecided. It is hard to move on from books, I suppose that is a personal issue.

So, thanks for all of the input - and please feel free to continue to share. Looks like a have a date with a kindle in the future, but you never know.

I'd buy you all a beer for your time, but Pallas is the only MeFite I (will) actually live in the same city as... I suppose I could buy several beers and Pallas and I could drink them in a toast to all of you. Yeah, that works.
posted by caveat empress at 1:06 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

We have a Kindle, a Nook AND an iPad. (As for me, I really like to read. I'm not too picky on how I get to do it! Phone, ebook reader, used, new, sometimes even screen-reading. Mmm.)

The responses above pretty much cover everything, so here are some of my brief opinions:

- I prefer the Kindle's keyboard because going from the Nook's touchscreen to the e-ink screen is too dissonant (you always want to touch the next page instead of click the button)
- I really hate that 1) the Kindle doesn't have page numbers, it has percentages [the Nook does a great page number system that keeps the page the same despite what font size you select -- also a nod to the appeal of a well-laid out and designed paper page]
- and 2) the Kindle doesn't let you sort your own files into sub-folders. Frustrating because I want to categorize, put stuff in "to-read soon" vs "someday" folders, and also listen to my audiobooks through the device, but putting in mp3s just throws them into the list with everything else, making it cluttered
- Book file management can be tricky. I was using Stanza but I've found Calibre to be a lot better for keeping track of everything and converting books into the right formats.

That said, these things are still in the early stages of development, and I expect them to improve in the future. Even if they don't go open-source (please please please), things will surely at least be a lot more friendly for users.

As far as reading on the Kindle vs. the iPad, I'm kind of torn. E-ink is a really great reading experience and there's definitely eyestrain potential with the backlit iPad screen. Plus I'd be afraid of breaking the iPad screen by carring it around everywhere, the way that I'd carry a book (and my Kindle in its nice thick case) around. So this will probably come down to your own preference.

The good thing is that Amazon has a whole system where they hook up potential Kindle users with people who own and love them, so that you can play with the device in person. I can't find the link offhand, so poke around the site and see.
posted by lhall at 3:23 PM on April 30, 2010

Presuming you're not leaving for a little while, Borders is also launching the Kobo e-book reader soon (I believe) as well... And it looks like a nifty little device, if all you care about is reading e-books.
posted by antifuse at 12:42 PM on May 12, 2010

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